Opinion: Need to be tough on crime by wealthy, says Potsdam resident
To the Editor:
"America needs to be tough on crime," we hear this with tiresome regularity in Letters to the Editor in North Country publications. While most of those letters merely regurgitate the ideological claims and assumptions of the openly reactionary Right, there is a kernel of truth to their distorted laments.Most people here in the US are working class, living paycheck to paycheck, with precarious work contracts, no long-term job security, few benefits, and inadequate or no health care. Working Americans can only dream of the 5-6 weeks of guaranteed annual paid vacation time that is standard in much of the developed world.
In contrast, America's rich are arguably among the most obscenely wealthy, most predatory, exploitative, and amoral thieves of the wealth that was originally produced by working people, here and around the globe. And they can easily protect themselves from crime by hiding in their gated communities, surrounded by private security and armed guards. Working people, on the other hand, are much more vulnerable. It is thus no surprise that some might think that they have no choice but to rely on the police to protect themselves from harm.
Hence, they become advocates for the proverbial "Knights in Blue," perpetuating the fantasy that the police exist to protect us from crime and keep us safe. While some individual police employees may indeed have the best intentions, the police as an institution was created in the 19th century to protect and enable the most violent, the most criminal, and the most vicious elements of society -- the predatory rich, – which was composed of Southern slave owners and the Northern industrial robber barons.
While the particular appearance of the ruling class has changed, with the formal abolition of slavery and the further evolution of industrial capitalism, the fundamental dynamic of American society, being divided into an exploited working-class majority and an exploiting capitalist ruling-class minority is still the same.
Ask yourself why our prisons, -- which hold the largest prison population in the world, -- are filled with racialized minorities as well as poor and working-class people. How many multi-millionaires are convicted of crimes? How many billionaires are on death row or get shot at and beaten up by the police?
It should be clear to every thinking person that the police in America does not exist to protect us from criminals, it exists instead to protect America's most powerful criminals -- the economic and political elites -- from the vast majority of the population that they victimize.
Indeed, we need to be tough on their crimes, the real crimes that have impoverished Americans of all backgrounds for decades, aided and abetted by the police, as a tool of ruling-class power.