Well, yes, OK, it’s the State which is the problem then

In the United States, a system of modern peonage – essentially, a government-run loan shark operation – has been going on for years. Beginning in the 1990s, the country adopted a set of criminal justice strategies that punish poor people for their poverty. Right now in America, 10 million people, representing two-thirds of all current and former offenders in the country, owe governments a total of $50bn in accumulated fines, fees and other impositions.

There are varied people who have given this warning. Perhaps it’s time to dust down the Mancur Olson again?

7 thoughts on “Well, yes, OK, it’s the State which is the problem then”

  1. It is not just the poor who are hit. The USA is very good at accusing foreign companies operating in the USA (for mundane reasons of free trade and the desire to make some money) of breaking the law and then settling out of court for multi-million or multi-billion dollar fines. These settlements are, for the most part, protected by NDAs which means there is no independent oversight, so no one knows if the company in question was actually guilty or if it was a case of the US government just trying it on.

    The USA is a country which has decided that life is sweeter if you make the criminal justice system so nasty and complicated that every man, woman and child is guilty of a prison-able offence before they take their first dump of the day.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    Racism is America’s original sin, and it is present in all of these areas of criminalization, whether through out-and-out discrimination, structural and institutional racism, or implicit bias.

    Ummm, evidence? There is no evidence known to me of any racial discrimination in the American criminal justice system. As has been pointed out before:

    https://www.city-journal.org/html/criminal-justice-system-racist-13078.html

    Blacks are disproportionately likely to be jailed because they are disproportionately likely to commit crime. As they are in Africa. And Jamaica. And Sweden. And Switzerland.

    Joined together, poverty and racism have created a toxic mixture that mocks our democratic rhetoric of equal opportunity and equal protection under the law.

    Something is mocking the idea of equal opportunity. What is the evidence that it is poverty or racism? As opposed to, say, genetics?

  3. These settlements are, for the most part, protected by NDAs which means there is no independent oversight, so no one knows if the company in question was actually guilty or if it was a case of the US government just trying it on.

    Worse, Obama channeled the proceeds directly to his supporters. Banana republic stuff.

  4. The USA is thoroughly corrupt. Her “criminal justice system” is indeed part of the problem. It’s all very sad but hardly surprising. It was obvious in my youth that Britain was run in the belief that most people would be at least middling honest, the US on the belief that everyone was a crook.

  5. Eh. Mostly we are talking about traffic tickets, fines for missing court dates, stuff like that. How are we supposed to handle these things, short of making compliance with the law optional?

  6. ‘In the United States, a system of modern peonage – essentially, a government-run loan shark operation – has been going on for years’

    An assertion for which he provides no evidence. His article is just noise. Poorly written noise. WHERE ARE THE EDITORS?

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