“We’re not going to protect you”

by Walter Olson on July 25, 2012

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on TV the other day answering a question about why the public doesn’t demand the enactment of gun control after the Colorado theater shooting: “Well, I would take it one step further. I don’t understand why the police officers across this country don’t stand up collectively and say, we’re going to go on strike. We’re not going to protect you [unless new restraints are enacted].” James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal‘s “Best of the Web” calls out the Gotham mayor:

A police strike, as Bloomberg figured out a day late, is illegal in itself. Bloomberg’s strike would be for the purpose of curtailing the citizenry’s constitutional rights. The mayor urged an unlawful rebellion by government employees against their employers, the people.

Taranto also notes:

And whether Bloomberg meant to suggest a real strike threat or an empty one, it seems obvious that such a move would be counterproductive. The prospect of police shirking their duty to protect the citizenry strengthens, not weakens, the case for private ownership of firearms and other tools of self-defense.

It’s enough to make you wonder whether Bloomberg is secretly a passionate admirer of the Second Amendment and keeps saying things this outrageous from a covert intent to sabotage the case for gun control. [cross-posted from Cato at Liberty. As usual, Ken White is funnier; & Daily Caller, Mike Riggs, Scott Greenfield, New York Sun ("It is a scandal that this most basic article of the Bill of Rights is not in force now in the leading city in America because the mayor, among others, refuses to bow to the Constitution that he is bound by oath to support.")]

{ 12 comments }

1 Nicholas 07.25.12 at 4:27 pm

You did a good job drawing attention to how ridiculous this statement is: “Bloomberg’s strike would be for the purpose of curtailing the citizenry’s constitutional rights. The mayor urged an unlawful rebellion by government employees against their employers, the people.”

LOL! That is crazypants! It’s not an attack on the citizenry for individuals to decline to do a job! It is the right of self determination whether each person does a job on any particular day. If the police don’t like the parameters of their jobs, then they should rightly decline to do that job, just like anyone would. For instance, I myself decline to do the job of a police officer, because I myself don’t like the parameters of the job.

I love the delicious satire in this blog post, where you pretend to be against the right of people to choose what they do on a given day. That’s hilarious! Obviously, as conservatives and libertarians, we all believe that no person is a slave; nobody can be forced to go to work on any given day; everyone has the right to strike, despite plainly unconstitutional laws to the contrary for arbitrary professions such as the police. Likewise, if the people find the performance of any officer insufficient, then the people (via their representatives administering the government) can fire that officer.

But when you are going to make a satirical post, you should reveal yourself in the last sentence, so that we don’t mistake you for a hypocrite, which you would be if you were to seriously suggest that any person should be forced to be a police officer when they don’t want to. That would be the most preposterously un-conservative thing I could read this side of the Huffington Post.

2 Walter Olson 07.25.12 at 4:53 pm

Thanks, anonymous Nicholas, for pretending not to know the difference between a strike and the quitting of a job. You definitely know about comedy stylings.

3 Anonymous Nicholas 07.25.12 at 5:18 pm

Walter, what punishment do you suggest for a police officer who decides that his job isn’t worth working until something changes? Who would you send to seize that person and force him to be a police officer that day? How many days in a row would you force that person to work, before it would become slavery?

A strike is the same as quitting and then offering to come back when the situation is fixed. Would you rather live in a world where all the police in the country just decide to quit and NOT offer to come back when you fix the problem?

For the record, I don’t support increased gun control, and I don’t really follow the logic of Bloomberg’s statement. I think he’s just advocating for his position at an opportune time, which is fair politics, and I think the conservative response has been hypocritical bluster and nonsense — unfair politics. The appropriate conservative response is “we disagree with Bloomberg that America wants or needs more gun control, and we are proud to count as citizen gun owners many of America’s fine police officers, who can decide for themselves when and why to strike.”

(I may be anonymous to your readers, but you have my real email address, so I’m not anonymous to you. You can easily write to me or look me up.)

4 Walter Olson 07.25.12 at 5:28 pm

AN>”A strike is the same as quitting…”

I am sorry that the last 75+ years (at least) of labor law in the U.S., as well as the last 100+ years of actual labor relations, have been lost on you.

5 Richard Nieporent 07.25.12 at 8:53 pm

Nicholas, the police have a right to negotiate their working conditions such as pay, the number of hours they work, vacation time, pension, etc.; they do not have a the right to decide public policy. Nobody is forced to be a policeman. If the police do not like the fact that they have to deal with armed criminals they can always quit their jobs and go into another profession.

It should not be a surprise to the police that law-abiding citizens can own weapons. Gun control only succeeds in disarming law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately criminals don’t seem to have a problem obtaining weapons even in places that have strict gun control laws.

Bloomberg should stick to banning Big Gulps. Then he will only be seen as a fool. When he encourages the police to strike illegally he is advocating criminal behavior.

6 Anonymous Nicholas 07.26.12 at 4:23 pm

Richard, “crimes” are things you can be arrested for. Are you seriously suggesting that we should arrest people who don’t go to work? I have to assume you don’t mean that, and just stated your position inartfully. If you really do mean that, then again I’d ask who are you going to send to arrest these policemen who don’t show up to work?

If police struck because politicians refused to do anything about a gun problem, that wouldn’t be “deciding national policy”, that would be “engaging in the civic discussion about national policy”. Surely you wouldn’t deny the good men and women in blue of their free speech, so you also can’t possibly mean that they should be disallowed from voicing that opinion.

I thought this was a hangout for conservatives. You guys aren’t sounding very conservative about this issue. Conservatives don’t turn people into slaves by forcing them to work, nor do they tell people they don’t have the right to express political opinions. Leave that nonsense to the pinkos.

7 Richard Nieporent 07.27.12 at 1:34 am

Richard, “crimes” are things you can be arrested for. Are you seriously suggesting that we should arrest people who don’t go to work? I have to assume you don’t mean that, and just stated your position inartfully. If you really do mean that, then again I’d ask who are you going to send to arrest these policemen who don’t show up to work?

No, Anonymous Nicholas, I mean exactly what I stated. Many jurisdictions prohibit all strikes by public employees, under laws such as the “Taylor Law” in New York. “The Taylor Law is a New York State statute which authorizes a governor-appointed State Public Employment Relations Board to resolve contract disputes for public employees while curtailing their right to strike. The law provides for mediation and binding arbitration to give voice to unions, while work stoppages are made punishable with fines and jail time. ”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_Law

So yes it is a crime for police to strike in NYC and they can be fined or go to jail for doing it. If necessary, the Governor would call out the National Guard to preserve order.

8 Anonymous Nicholas 07.27.12 at 5:26 pm

I’m aware of the statute, but I didn’t realize that any conservative person would ever consider it part of “The Law”. Unconstitutional statutes, of course, as we all know, are not part of The Law. I doubt that any court would ever jail a person for failing to show up to work. If that happened to me, I’d challenge the law under the 13th Amendment, and I admonish your position as an apology for slavery. Conservatives protect individual liberty; conservatives oppose slavery; conservatives support free speech; therefore conservatives support the right to strike for all people.

9 Fox 2! 07.28.12 at 3:27 pm

The leaders of NYC public employee unions have ended up in Riker’s Island (or in the County House of Detention) on more than one occasion for striking in violation of the Taylor Act. And the unions and their members have been fined millions of dollars.

10 Fox 2! 07.28.12 at 3:30 pm

In addition, police officers face Departmental discipline, such as fines, suspensions without pay, and even dismissal, for participating in strikes. I’m sure that the FDNY and Sanitation have similar regulations.

11 Hugo S. Cunningham 07.28.12 at 9:00 pm

Some Libertarians have invoked the Thirteenth Amendment to oppose the Military draft, but NYC policemen have not been drafted.

Those who ratified the Thirteenth Amendment expressed no interest in annulling Congress’s authority to “raise and support armies,” recently invoked to win the War to preserve the Union. Draftees retain the social status of free men, even if constrained to pay a temporary tax in labor.

12 JJ 07.29.12 at 7:21 pm

I have a combined 32 years in law enforcment and the fire service. Started the police academy when I was 21. Eventualy found that I wanted to move to the fire service. I am all for preserving individual rights and could not be more opposed to gun control laws. Speaking from personal experience the police cannot be everywhere at all times and citizens deserve the right to protect themselves until help can arrive. However, comparing laws to prevent public safety working from striking to slavery is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard. We all know why these types of laws are enacted so deep explanation is not needed. If all public saftey personell decided to just not show up all at once it puts the public in an unacceptable situation. Yes any particular individual has the right to decide ” I no longer wish to do this job based on pay, danger, hours, or whatever else.” To have all employees walk away en masse and leave an entire community unprotected is a completely different situation. There comes a time when a distinction has to be made between what “individual rights” you can work the system for and doing what IS right.

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