A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ tag

The Plebs are Becoming Unruly

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All isn’t well in the People’s Republic of Minneapolis. The patricians are having a tough time conducting their very important government business due to the fact that the plebeians are becoming unruly:

Maintaining order in meetings has become a struggle for the new City Council. It has created a dilemma for a council majority brought to power on a progressive wave, putting former activists in the difficult position of having to hush their constituents just to get through the agenda.

It appears that a bunch of plebs have realized that members of their ranks being elevated to the patrician class hasn’t resulted in a better life for the plebeians. I doubt this lesson will stick though. These activists will probably still scream about the importance of voting, which will perpetuate this cycle of former and current activists eating each other. At least it gives those of us watching from a distance an entertaining show.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 11th, 2018 at 10:00 am

If You Shoot Somebody, Perform CPR and You Can’t Be Charged

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I’m sure you’ve heard a number of legal urban legends. A prevalent one from my youth was that a law enforcer had to stop following your vehicle after you took a third right turn. Another similar urban legend is that the ruling of a court is illegal if the flag in the courtroom has a gold border because that makes it a maritime flag and the court a maritime court. I now have another one to add to the list: you cannot be charged with murder if you perform CPR on the person you shot:

Attorneys for the former Minneapolis police officer say his attempts to revive victim with CPR vindicate him.

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of desperation. It’s the sound of a lawyer who has a client that is so irredeemable that he doesn’t believe that he can make a valid argument in a court of law. Would it surprise you to know that the lawyer who made this argument is the Officer Noor’s lawyer? I didn’t think so.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 17th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Minneapolis’ Very Own Tent Town

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Minneapolis has achieved another milestone in its march towards progress, it now has its very own Hooverville:

Yanez lives at the heart of a sprawling homeless settlement that has formed and grown quickly this summer in the shadows of the Little Earth housing project near the intersection of Hiawatha and Cedar avenues in south Minneapolis.

Their numbers have multiplied in recent weeks, reaching about 60 men, women and children this week, turning this narrow stretch of grass into one of the largest and most visible homeless camps ever seen in Minnesota.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. Every large city has a homeless population living within it. People who share hardships often come together and form a community. However, by forming a community these individuals have also made their existence undeniable, which will likely cause them more hardship in the near future.

City officials do not like homeless individuals. When city officials learn about the existence of a group of homeless individuals, they tend to sic their dogs on them. The angle of this story is that this Hooverville is a public health crisis. That will likely be the justification city officials use when they send their law enforcers to confiscate these individuals’ tents and tell them that they have to go be homeless somewhere else (that is, after all, how city officials always “help” the homeless).

Written by Christopher Burg

August 14th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Government Giveth and Government Taketh Away

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One of the most aggravating aspects of living in a major metropolitan area is that a vast majority of the people living here mindlessly parrot whatever the local government tells them to parrot. If, for example, the local government says that there is a housing shortage and that the only way to bring housing prices down is to build a lot of high-density residential buildings, a vast majority of people living here will start demanding more high-density residential buildings be built. Moreover, if the local government says that people should be using mass transit, a vast majority of people living here will start telling everybody to use mass transit. But what happens if you decide to use mass transit and then the local government takes it away from you:

Metro Transit says it is suspending dozens of bus trips because of a driver shortage, effective Tuesday.

The suspensions started just after 6 a.m.

Metro Transit said in an online posting it was stopping 67 bus trips on 40 of its routes until further notice. The transit agency says it is short about 90 drivers, despite a recent push to recruit new operators across the Twin Cities.

There are quite a few people living in the Twin Cities, especially in Minneapolis, who have fallen for the local government’s mass transit propaganda so fully that they no longer own their own automobile. It works for them because the government is subsidizing their transportation by providing mass transit at taxpayer expense. However, government is an arbitrary beast and can giveth one moment and taketh away another.

What happens if you’re one of those poor schmucks who relied on one of those 67 bus trips to get to and from work? If you own an automobile, you at least have the option to drive. If you don’t own an automobile, you’re not stuck paying for Uber or Lyft rides twice a day, which will get pretty damned expensive.

Relying on an arbitrary beast like government is one of the most foolish things an individual can do. At any moment a bureaucrat may decide that the service you rely on is no longer necessary or is impossible for the government to reliably fulfill and it will go away. When that happens, you have zero recourse.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 2nd, 2018 at 10:00 am

Grandstanding Is Easier When You’re Shielded from Consequences

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Advocates for gun control are in a virtuousness competition. This competition has lead to some rather hilarious moments. For example, the Eden Prairie City Council here in Minnesota attempted to demonstration its virtuousness by proposing a resolution that would ask firearm sellers in the city to not sell ascetically offensive firearms. The entire debate was meaningless because of state preemption, which prevents municipalities from passing their own gun control laws, but it allowed the city council to broadcast to the world how virtuous they are.

Now the St. Louis Park City Council, also here in Minnesota, is considering stepping up the game by outright violating state preemption:

Some St. Louis Park City Council members have set their sights on a state law that limits cities from creating gun restrictions.

After discussing gun laws with students from St. Louis Park High School at a May 21 study session, Mayor Jake Spano said, “We’re openly discussing flouting state law and getting sued. I’m not interested in picking fights for no reason, but at the same time this has got to stop.”

They realize that doing so would get them sued so why would they even consider such action? Because if they go through with their plan and they are inevitably sued, they don’t have to suffer the consequences. The St. Louis Park City Council members won’t have to payout if they lose such a lawsuit, the tax payers in St. Louis Park will.

Grandstanding is easier when you’re shielded from consequences. When city council members do something that gets the city sued, they get to sit back and relax while the city pays for lawyers and, if the city loses the court case, pays out the fine. The icing on the cake is that while the city is paying out for the members’ grandstanding, it is also still paying their salaries.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 17th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Heads Up Fellow Minnesotans

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If you live in Minnesota, you’ll want to keep an even more careful eye out for road pirates because they’re having an annual fundraiser:

A statewide extra enforcement campaign cracking down on speeding and aggressive driving begins today and runs through July 22, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

More than 300 agencies are involved in the campaign, and while cost of tickets may vary across counties, drivers should expect fees around $110 for traveling 10 mph over the speed limit.

What can you do protect yourself? My favorite tool for defending myself against road pirates is Waze. There are many helpful Waze users (including me) who report any law enforcers that they see on the road. If you live in a major metropolitan area, Waze is usually pretty good about alerting you to lurking road pirates. However, since it relies on crowdsourced information, it tends to be less effective in rural areas. With that said, if you live in a rural area, you could always start an awareness campaign to get more people using it.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 12th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Just Drug ‘Em

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The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) can’t keep itself away from controversy. Fortunately, the latest controversy doesn’t involve another unarmed person being gunned down. Instead it involves people being drugged against their will, oftentimes without any crimes being committed:

Minneapolis police officers have repeatedly requested over the past three years that Hennepin County medical responders sedate people using the powerful tranquilizer ketamine, at times over the protests of those being drugged, and in some cases when no apparent crime was committed, a city report shows.

[…]

The number of documented ketamine injections during Minneapolis police calls increased from three in 2012 to 62 last year, the report found, including four uses on the same person. On May 18, around the time the draft report was completed, Minneapolis police Cmdr. Todd Sauvageau issued a departmental order saying that officers “shall never suggest or demand EMS Personnel ‘sedated’ a subject. This is a decision that needs to be clearly made by EMS Personnel, not MPD Officers.”

This story involves two groups of bad actors. The first group is the usual suspects, MPD officers. The second group are the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel who administer the drugs simply because an MPD officer asked them.

Not surprisingly, both MPD and the EMS people involved have issued statements that absolve themselves of responsibility. MPD at least tried to smooth things over by announced that it has put a new policy in place. While new department policies seldom change actual behavior, it’s a step better than the shut up slaves statement given by Hennepin EMS Medical Director Jeffrey Ho:

The draft report prompted sharply different reactions among local officials. A statement included in the report from Hennepin EMS Medical Director Jeffrey Ho and Minnesota Poison Control System Medical Director Jon Cole dismissed the findings of the report as a “reckless use of anecdotes and partial snapshots of interactions with police, and incomplete information and statistics to draw uninformed and incorrect conclusions.”

“This draft report will prevent the saving of lives by promoting the concept of allowing people to exhaust themselves to death,” Cole and Ho wrote.

Pro tip: if you’re going to claim that a report is based on anecdotal and partial information and are in a position to provide the information that supports your claim, you should release that information. Failing to do so makes it look like your statement is nothing more than an attempt to cover your ass.

The fact that MPD requested the sedation of a subject isn’t the real red flag of this story. There are circumstances where sedating somebody is the best option for everybody involved, including the suspect. However, the rapid increase in the number of sedations is a red flag. Going from three in 2012 to 62 in 2017 is a drastic increase in just five years. Statements from officials and policy changes aren’t going to answer the important question of why was there such a dramatic increase?

Written by Christopher Burg

June 15th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Finding New Justifications for Harassment

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The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has announced that it will stop arresting people for possession of small amounts of cannabis. At least that’s what you’d think if you were going by a lot of people’s comments. What MPD actually announced is far more limited in scope:

In a series of rushed announcements Thursday, authorities said that police would no longer conduct sting operations targeting low-level marijuana sales, and charges against 47 people arrested in the first five months of 2018 would be dismissed.

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But in recent years, Minneapolis police have stepped up their presence on Hennepin Avenue in response to concerns about safety downtown. Using undercover officers posing as buyers, they arrested 47 people for selling marijuana on Hennepin between 5th and 6th streets.

MPD will stop having officers posing as buyers in order to find suckers to arrest. However, that doesn’t mean that the department will stop arresting people for possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Then there is the issue of demographics. When 46 of the 47 people you’ve arrested are black, red flags are raised. This is especially true when the arrests were the result of a sting operation that involved law enforcers initiating contact. Such demographics make it look as though the law enforcers in question were almost exclusively approaching black individuals and mostly ignoring people with lighter colored skin. But now that MPD has been caught apparently red handed, the racial profiling will cease, right? Don’t get your hopes up.

Anybody who studies the history of laws and how they’re enforced in the United States quickly learns that when law enforcers are caught targeting specific individuals, law that are claimed to prohibit such targeting are quickly passed but nothing changes. This is because law enforcers simply find another way to target those individuals using a different justification. A very good case can be made for the drug war actually being a continuation of Jim Crow laws. While the laws prohibiting drugs never specifically mention race, they tend to be enforced more rigorously against black individuals. But since the laws never mention race, when questions about the demographics of those arrested are asked, law enforcers have plausible deniability. They can claim that they were enforcing the law consistently but that blacks simply break those laws more frequently.

If MPD wants to racially profile, it can find a justification to do so that gives its officers deniability.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 8th, 2018 at 10:00 am

It Doesn’t Matter What the Majority Says

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Every political argument seems to eventually boils down to polls. It makes sense since polls indicate what the majority wants and the majority should be listened to, right? If, for example, the majority of Minnesotans support stricter gun laws, then the politicians should respect their desires, right?

A majority of Minnesotans support stricter gun laws in the United States, including wide backing for a ban on military-style rifles and for raising the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found.

This is usually the point where I would point out the way polls are manipulated to get desired results. For example, if you poll urban individuals about gun control, you’re likely to get a different result than if you poll rural individuals. Likewise, if I’m a publication with a predominantly Democratic readership, the results of my poll about gun control laws are going to differ from the poll results achieved by a publication with a predominantly Republican readership.

Instead of focusing on why polls are irrelevant due to ease of manipulation, I’m going to focus on an even lower level assumption made by people who cite polls: that a majority is right. Take it away, Mises!

Stating that the majority supports a law is irrelevant because there is no inherent wisdom in the majority. For example, if a majority favored a law that required the first born son of every family to be sacrificed to Beelzebub, would you agree that a law requiring that be passed? I’m guessing most people wouldn’t because it’s an awful idea. I’m also guessing that some proponent of democracy will dismiss my example and by extent my argument as being ridiculous, which it is because I chosen it specifically to illustrate my point in the most hyperbolic manner possible. To appease those individuals though, I will present a more realistic example.

Let’s say a few individuals own businesses in a poor neighborhood. The majority of people living in the town decide that they want to revitalize that neighborhood. To accomplish this they demand that the city government pass a new property tax to raise funds for revitalization efforts. Interestingly enough, the demanded property tax is high enough that it would force the poor businesses in that neighborhood to close shop. Should the will of the majority be followed even though it’s obvious that their idea of revitalizing the neighborhood is to use the city’s tax code to run poor individuals out of town?

The premise of democracy, that the will of a majority should become the policy of the State, is flawed at its very foundation because it necessarily assumes that what a majority wants is correct. This is why I dismiss arguments based on the will of a majority outright. Saying that a majority supports something is no different than saying that you personally support something. Saying that you or a majority support something isn’t an argument in support of that thing, it’s merely an expression of personal preference. And, unfortunately for you, I don’t give a shit about your personal preference.

Two Seasons

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Here in Minnesota there are two seasons: the season where the roads are unusable due to snow and the season where the roads are unusable due to MnDOT:

This week’s ramp closures and detours are just a foretaste of what’s coming in mid-June. That’s when the Minnesota Department of Transportation will shut down the main ramp leading from northbound Interstate 35W into downtown Minneapolis — for four months.

MnDOT, city officials and many downtown employers are bracing for epic traffic jams and urging commuters to take transit or work at home — and even dangling huge parking discounts for carpools.

The I-94/I-35W interchange is being rebuilt as part of a $239 million makeover of I-35W between downtown and 43rd Street. But that is just one of four work zones that I-35W drivers will encounter this summer. Overlapping projects with lane closures of their own will be underway simultaneously in Burnsville and Roseville and just past the I-35W/35E split in Forest Lake.

The last sentence probably illustrates the biggest issue with Minnesota road construction. It’s not just that parts of a major artery are shutdown but that multiple parts of multiple major arteries are shutdown simultaneously. MnDOT representatives are always quick to tell commuters to use alternate routes but oftentimes no alternate routes exist because MnDOT has shut them down as well.

As a libertarian I’m required by law to answer the question, without government who would build the roads? I will answer that question with another question. Without government who will shutdown the roads? Here in Minnesota it seems like we’re forced to pay a lot of taxes to build roads that we’re never able to use.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 1st, 2018 at 10:00 am