The Bleeding Hearts Dry Up 4 - Crime and No Punishment

More policies that obviously don't work, but woketivists keep spreading them.

Towards the beginning of this series, we cast a baleful eye over the controversy between animal rights activists, tree huggers, and sawmill operators and loggers in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1980s.  The animal rights community had observed that the spotted owl population was dropping, and allied themselves with the tree-huggers to stop logging in the owl's habitat.

We discussed that specific example of environmental activism because it happened far enough in the past that the results have become clear:  Destroying thousands of logging jobs made little difference.  The owl's population continued to decline at around 7% per year because its habitat is being invaded by a larger owl which competes more effectively for the same resources.

The fact that the leaders of the pro-animal crusades made out pretty well individually from the fund-raising and political power they gained by lobbying makes it easier to understand why none of the activists cared much when their crusade had no effect on the problem they claimed to care about.  The complete failure of their program cost them nothing.

The previous article discussed how increasing the minimum wage leads to minimum wage workers taking home fewer dollars without any of the crusaders on their "behalf" missing a beat, and how "justice" reform leads to more crime by reducing the penalties for crimes while keeping the rewards of crime constant.  We didn't mention the many crimes that are committed by felons whom our border patrol had asked local authorities to detain so they could arrest them, but they didn't.

Any discussion of crime can't help but reference popular culture's ongoing demonization of police, including the fact that most of the Democrat candidates for President claim that Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson in spite of even the WaPo giving that story 4 Pinnocchios.  We marvel at SJW crusaders' ability to ignore the negative consequences of the programs they so avidly promote.

Animal protection activists still seem to think that they did right in eliminating logging jobs to "save the owl" - even though no owls were in fact saved, at great expense.  In the same way, "woke" politicians who compete to signal the most virtue are passing laws that increase crime.  As the New York Post puts it,

Releasing convicts early, or nearly all criminal suspects with no bail, is one element of such "reform." It's anything but reform - it sounds the death knell for police-community relations. It will further erode public trust in the police. Why? There is no plan. Most of these convicts/suspects released will re-offend. Then the police will be forced to deal with them. It's already happening.

It's only a matter of time before a situation goes sideways, and a police officer's actions will be at the forefront of the discussion. The question won't be, "Why was this criminal out on the street to begin with?" Or "who is responsible for this terrible decision"? Rather, the "reformers" and their media allies will denounce the police for failing to "de-escalate, or shoot him in the finger, or (just fill in the blank)."

And in all these cases, somehow, the complete and manifest failure occurs in a vacuum.  No politician, much less activist, pays any price for supporting them; they aren't rolled back, much less with any apology for those harmed.

They don't even serve as a cautionary tale to others.  As we saw in the last article, California's lifting of the prosecution limits for shoplifting led to knowledgeable shoplifters carefully stealing only $999 worth of goods, secure in the understanding that nothing will be done to them.  This ought to be all that any sane person needs to run far, far away from this bad idea, but no: Chicago rushed to follow California's example, with the exact same result.

Changing the Definition of Crime

Indeed, it's not entirely fair to blame these disasters purely on activists and gated-community elitists.  In California, it was actual voters who approved the initiative that decriminalized thefts of goods valued less than $1,000. 

At the same time, activists spreading lies such as "Hands up, don't shoot" have vilified police to the point that residents of many minority neighborhoods refuse to talk to police.  This makes it impossible to identify murderers, which had led to "regions of impunity" where thugs literally get away with murder as well as shoplifting.  If ordinary citizens held the activists in appropriate contempt and ignored their insanity, they'd have no effect; but apparently, enough voters are gullible and ignorant to provide activists a power they don't deserve and only use to cause harm all 'round.

At the same time that activists are trying to decriminalize real crimes, they're attempting to turn disagreements which are at best civil matters into crimes involving prison time.

"Pollution Is a Violent Crime - Prosecute It as Such" argues, well, that emitting pollution is a violent crime!

The corporation [Citgo] doesn’t have to pay compensation for pollution it caused in Texas. But pollution is a violent crime—and should be prosecuted as such.  [emphasis added]

This kind of transparent nonsense is what we've come to expect from fragile college snowflakes who intone "Hate speech is violence" whenever anyone brings up an idea they dislike.  One man's pollution is another man's productivity, and it is rare indeed that a specific incident of pollution can be directly tied to actual harm or specific deaths of individual people.  On those rare occasions when it can, armies of lawyers stand ready to bring those cases to court for megabucks settlements.  If prison is ever appropriate for pollution cases, it could only be just for the most absurdly extreme situations.

Saving the Planet?

Justice reform isn't the only area where activism has run far beyond the facts of the case.  Banning plastic shopping bags has led to illness as bacteria breed when people don't use enough hot water to clean their multi-use "Bring Your Own Bag" substitutes.  They also impose higher environmental costs:

Conventional plastic bags made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE, the plastic sacks found at grocery stores) had the smallest per-use environmental impact of all those tested. Cotton tote bags, by contrast, exhibited the highest and most severe global-warming potential by far since they require more resources to produce and distribute. ...

This low-grade, unfocused mania for averting impending ecological disaster seems to be more harmful than helpful, which is a problem throughout popular environmentalism[emphasis added]

Even completely disregarding the cost to people's convenience, health, and lives, banning plastic bags is bad for the environment because cotton bags take so many more resources to produce.  If the activists truly cared about the issue they claim to be fighting for, they'd be agitating to ban cotton bags - the exact opposite of what they are doing.  Yet the facts, and the damage done, don't seem to matter.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that banning paper cups also has unforeseen side effects:

As more Bay Area coffee shops look at ways to cut down on waste, members of the disabled community are concerned they'll be left out.

Concerned about climate change, some cafes are testing out rental programs for reusable glass jars, while others tell customers they can only sip their drinks for here. Yet both options present issues for disabled folks with limited mobility or decreased sensation in their hands. For them, paper cups are still the best option because glass and ceramic mugs are often too heavy or slippery.  [emphasis added]

Banning plastic straws in California, a marginally less deadly example, is monumentally inconvenient, but, like other feel-good initiatives, won't make a particle of difference.  How do we know this?  Well, if one wishes to listen to science, one would learn that that 90% of the plastic in the ocean comes from 10 rivers, 9 of which are in Asia and not subject to any lunacies of the California legislature.

Some climate change initiatives, such as putting batteries in businesses so they can smooth out their power demand, save money by reducing their peak loads. This is good for the business, obviously, and also good for the utility because it makes it easier for them to meet demand because demand doesn't change as fast and peak demands are lower.

But you might be surprised to learn that such commonsense measures generally increase CO2 emission instead of reducing it.  Vox explains:

In the popular imagination, energy-storage technologies like batteries are a key part of the effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fight climate change.

But storage has something of a dirty secret: Its net effect is often an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The full causes and dynamics behind this are complex, having to do with what energy is being stored, what energy is being displaced when it is released, and what energy makes up for the energy lost (roughly 20 percent) in the round-trip journey to battery and back. If you want the full details, I wrote a deep-dive post on this last year.

The deep dive post tells us:

All things being equal, residential storage increases net energy consumption and net carbon emissions.  [emphasis added]

Why do people do it?  Businesses are charged for the electricity they use through a meter, but their bill is boosted according to the peak amount of energy they use throughout the month.  Since the size of the peak affects the charge for all power used throughout the month, it's worth a lot of money to cut the peak.  Battery systems generally qualify for subsidies, so they're usually a more economical way to cut the peak than an on-site generator.

Read Vox's "deep dive post" and make an estimate of the percentage of climate change warriors who have both the initiative and technical smarts to understand precisely why battery storage, which is universally regarded as good, true, and beautifully green, generally increases CO2 generation instead of cutting it.  Don't accidentally leave off any of the zeros to the right of the decimal point.

For your next exercise, estimate the percentage of climate change warriors who, having understood this fact of physics and economics, will have the courage to tell their fellow activists that this form of green virtue just ain't so and the eloquence to persuade them of the error of their ways.  If you come up with a number including anything but zeros, you're far more optimistic than you ought to be.

Even though batteries have the opposite results than expected and straws are the minutest irrelevant fraction of pollution while affecting the comfort and convenience of people's lives every day, activists feel that by promoting batteries and banning straws they've "done something."  Meanwhile, the leaders of these movements amass money and political power.

Bad Outcomes Offer The Most Money

It almost seems like the worse a policy makes the lives of ordinary people, the more political power can be amassed by promoting it.  We've shown how the regulatory swamp makes it impossible to build enough housing for the people living in California.  This leads to homelessness, poop on the streets, and the return of diseases long banished from American shores.  Such deplorable situations offer activists access to a great deal of taxpayer money.

The San Francisco Chronicle calls the homeless situation in what's becoming known as Scat Francisco "A civic disgrace":

That a city can spend $241 million a year on programs and still confront such human misery suggests those dollars are not being spent with anything close to optimal effectiveness. Eight city departments and 76 private and nonprofit organizations draw from those funds in 400 contracts, yet the degree of accountability is highly suspect. There is no system in place to rigorously determine which of those endeavors might be duplicative or less effective. ...

San Francisco has an entrenched Homeless Industrial Complex that is as difficult to track and control as it is to count people living on the streets[emphasis added]

Have you ever heard of a publicly-funded entity actually solving a problem?  No money in that...

As expected, the Homeless Industrial Complex does a magnificent job of spending money without solving the problem.

Some 1,500 chronically homeless people cost the city about $80,000 a year each; the figure rises to $150,000 for the 338 considered the most needy in the city’s public-health database.

Being a woketivist bleeding heart means never taking responsibility for how programs work out in the real world.  Politicians love this - they can run for office promising to fix problems created by their own programs which were based on promises made during the previous election cycle.

We see ill-conceived environmental "planet saving" measures coming together into a "perfect storm" of eco-disaster in the California drought which has been followed by massive statewide fires.  Not only do these fires kill people, destroy buildings, and cost billions of dollars to fight, the CO2 they put into the air more than cancels out all of the state's costly green initiatives.

In other words: the reason given for banning forestry management, logging, and brush cleanup was specifically to keep the trees green and the air clear.  The trees are now ash and you can hardly see your hand in front of your face for the smoke.

On its own stated basis, California's green initiatives have been a historically spectacular own-goal to which the words "catastrophic failure," even though both are literally true, somehow don't quite manage to capture the full magnitude of FAIL.

Yet not only is nobody paying any political price, the powers-that-be are doubling down on the policies that incinerated their state, to (apparently) hardly a peep of protest.

One single activist crusade alone couldn't have brought about a disaster of this awe-inspiring stupendousness.  It required close cooperation by many groups: anti-logging tree huggers, "Save the Planet" opponents of fossil fuels, land use regulations, and crony capitalists seeking to get rich off subsidized "renewable energy" collectively conspired to turn most of California into a tinderbox.  The next article in this series discusses even more aspects to the California Climate Catastrophe - which, unlike the bogus one advertised by Al Gore, is both very real and entirely caused by human activity.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Law.
Reader Comments

I've always believed that with enough hard work, research, and perserverance, most problems could be either solved or mitigated. the problem of dealing with such a large percentage of the electorate who seem not only willing to accept their own demise, but anxious to participate in it, seems all but immune to any type of solution. I admit that, sadly, I see little or no reason for optimism, and depression is setting in. This attitude, of course, simply makes me part of the problem. I'm genuinely interested, as a pessimistic senior citzen, to hear what thoughts you have about how enough people, especially young ones, can be somehow encouraged to make decisions that are actually in their best interest, before we reach a point of no return.
My sincere thanks for your efforts; this is an excellent series. Perhaps it could be made required reading prior to opening any new accounts with Facebook, Amazon or Google.....
Keep up the good work; 'tis a great service to us all.

December 20, 2019 4:05 PM

I've lived in California nearly all my life, nigh about 60 years now. Ronald Reagan was governor here, if you can believe it. The ones voting him in were the earlier generation, the people who appreciated the manufacturing, steel, aerospace, agriculture, and military jobs that fueled California's growth. On the other hand, the post-war generation was different being raised in the 1960s-70s, trained by California's increasingly progressive public school system to have a different mindset than their parents, a form of education that continues to this day.

I grew up in Southern California, then and now, a vast metropolis. One of the defining memories I have is of the smog--the air pollution that caused your lungs to ache, and your eyes to burn during the sunny, warm afternoons. State agencies started clamping down on sources of ozone in the late 1960s, starting most notably to require smog-controlling equipment on new cars sold in California. Meanwhile, in high school we heard about DDT and Silent Spring, and the coming Ice Age, thus preparing us for a life of environmental fear, and enabling an environmental industry that would save us from those enemies.

Meanwhile life went on, the cities getting denser and more expensive as new immigrants flooded in, internationals--both legal and illegal, and immigrants from other US states. Social and economic class systems were amplified by the inrush of people, including the class of those who cared--those who had been around and had homes and jobs, and the class who didn't care--the people who had to just survive and consequently allow the powers that be to take care everything else. As the older generation died off and those who didn't like what was happening moved out of state (most of my siblings), it left essentially three or four classes:
1. wealthy, powerful liberals who now run things,
2. a huge number of public school-indoctrinated lower-middle-class people (by California standards) who are now mostly second-generation Latino,
3. a large community of Asians, culturally isolated in the cities that they have taken over since the 1970s, and a few smaller communities of others such as Armenians, Russians, Middle-Eastern, and all of these groups sometimes participating in civic life, but mostly not, wanting to attend solely to their own businesses,
4. an un-numbered amount of Latino "undocumented" diffused mostly through the coastal cities who don't participate at all in civic life, who will work hard for cash, pay no taxes, receive public resources when needed, whose numerous children are now citizens--these supporting the hope of Democrat's eternal political dominance.

I must say that not all of California is this way. I myself live in a rural, mountainous area--people here are mostly conservative, and most of the state's geography is rural and conservative. But we are few compared to the millions living in the coastal cities. And we are ambivalent about cutting back forests and allowing large developments like Tejon Ranch's Centennial to come to us. We want the city to stay away, the forest to be left alone, and be able to maintain our quiet rural life. We have no love for liberal California politicians and policy. But California's population is expanding and eventually they will come and take over.

December 20, 2019 4:26 PM
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