Understanding Police Officers’ Impossible Position

Charged with holding together an unraveling society.

Photo by Jacky Lam on Unsplash

I am not a police officer. (I was in the Military Police Corp when I was in the Army, but mostly as a clerk.) I understand the position the police are in because I taught (briefly) in public schools.

Teachers, nurses, and the police are the people who have been assigned the impossible task of holding together American society at the local level — a society that was never all that cohesive and in the last few decades has started coming completely apart. Everything that is wrong with our society manifests itself in our schools, our health care system, and the daily lives of people who have been born into or driven into the bottom rungs of this society.

All of the stresses, frustrations, and anger that all people feel from time to time in the complex, demanding world of today are both made more constant and intensified by poverty as well as racism, genderism, etc. As the last, thin line ‘keeping it together’ for society, it is left to the police to apply force as a last resort in the effort to make a deeply flawed society ‘work’.

I appreciate the frustration and despair police officers can feel. They go to work every day knowing it will be just like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, all the way back to the first day they were on the job — and that none of their tomorrows will be one bit different. Every day they face the same impossible task: to hold accountable to society people who know good and damn well they count for nothing in this society. Cohesion cannot exist without inclusion.

Police spend almost all their time dealing with people who have been born into or driven into the socioeconomic bottom of a society that has only one goal: to shower with money and privileges people who are ‘successful’. As a society, this nation wants only to forget that it has a bottom. Most people, unless confronted by a particularly heinous episode, have no desire to spend one minute thinking about what life is like at the bottom, much less how life could be improved for people living there, much less what action they could take to change society.

Oh, political liberals will wring their hands, bemoan the plight of their social inferiors, and even write checks. Conservatives will, when they have to, pay lip service to doing better as a society. All can comfortably call for ever more analysis as a show of having their hearts in the right place.

To this point, nowhere near enough people have cared enough to effect the kind of fundamental change that is necessary. Yet, to transform the socioeconomic outcomes for people who are at the bottom of this society doesn’t even require sacrificing one penny of income or wealth — to effect such change or as a result of it.

The positive transformation of our society requires only one thing: speaking up on behalf of a “democratically distributed income.” It is a concrete proposal to eliminate unemployment and poverty (at no cost to anyone, without having to redistribute anything) — as well as all taxes and public debt (at every level of government).

For Crying Out Loud, ACCEPT That A SOLUTION Actually EXISTS” (a “3 min read” — including options for further reading — here in Medium)

Anyone whose first thought was to raise some objection or to come up with some reason for hesitation has already gotten on the wrong path. For anyone who thinks that blind acceptance is a bad idea, given those claims, how can anyone who rejects blind acceptance justify not putting forth whatever effort is necessary to understand this proposal? One thing is certain: ignoring it can accomplish absolutely nothing. Take my word for it or validate it for yourself.

Those might be hard truths, but they are real truths. This is a real, actionable solution. It could be accomplished with a single Act of Congress. Those outcomes are absolutely, positively guaranteed — by changing only the way money (as currency) gets supplied to the existing economy. Nothing else has to be changed.

This old saying could could not be more valid or more pertinent: if you want peace, work for justice. Here, “work” means speaking and writing; making the economy more just means the establishment of a democratically distributed income. It is the only available solution for unemployment and poverty.



Stephen Yearwood

unaffiliated, non-ideological, unpaid: M.A. in political economy (where philosophy and economics intersect) with a focus in money/distributive justice