Editorials: The police; and Taxes

Trash pics
Does it help to have had one’s house broken into and things stolen, and the National Police won’t even take the complaint, to finally write an editorial like this? Actually, it gets in the way of calm deliberation. But certain things need to be said, and done. Montage of Policia Nacional trophy pics.

Enough of the corny public relations.
Let’s have professional and viable policing.

All of those trophy pictures, with the bundles of drugs carefully lined up, or the guns and money on a table, or the suspects with their faces concealed in custody. Far from garnering any public support, they just alienate the public.

See, when some person or institution keeps repeating delusional stuff, others stop paying attention. The “War on Drugs” has been lost for years, the profiteers on the “winning side” include people whose jobs are to enforce the law, and everybody knows that. The government may buy unnecessary ads from this or that medium in order to get the trophy pictures broadcast or in print, and the main result is a degradation of Panamanian journalism.

Cut it out!

Do we say “defund the police?” NO! We say stop spending money on stupid things. Spend it instead on the garden variety crimes that most often oppress people. Work with other institutions to divert desperate people to wiser solutions than crime.

So do we just ignore addiction, and the vicious gangs that thrive off of it? NO! We strike a death blow against those racketeers by legalizing and taxing things like marijuana and coca leaves. We treat smuggling through our territory to other countries as a national defense issue and a matter for courts elsewhere that are more difficult to bribe. We frankly and honestly ask kids, whether it’s about tobacco or crack or heroin, “Why do you want to waste your life like this?” — and then stand ready to address the real reasons.

This is not to suggest that it’s easy. Police work is not easy. Nor is it a tool that’s well suited to address every social problem. It will, however, be easier if and when all the pretenses and propaganda come to an end.



Trickle down economics. Wikimedia graphic by Jason Carswell.

Now UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has joined the hue and cry for new taxes

During the more than a year of pandemic, the world’s richest people have increased their holdings by more than $5 trillion. It follows upon decades of neoliberal economic dogma that has been embraced by governments and international organizations. The premise is that by reducing taxes on the rich, suppressing wages for working people and cutting costs by automation and outsourcing, national and world economies will be a “rising tide” that “lifts all boats.” It has been tried and it has failed, even before the present crisis.

That stuff is now an unaffordable lie, and downright vicious things like letting the poor countries go unvaccinated or into a lost generation of impossible debt are what’s left of the late 20th century’s “wisdom.”

So the pillars of an old order start to wobble. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank precede Guterres in his call to impose a “solidarity or wealth tax” to finance a more humane and sustainable way out of the economic crisis that’s underway and that will outlive the health crisis.

In the United States and in Panama, the rich have taken almost everything and are demanding more, even as this epidemic continues to unfold. The never specifically stated beginning and end to every “dialogue” in Panama is that the rich don’t pay taxes. Unless the filibuster is ended – and maybe still, even if it does end – the Republican Party and powerful interests have dug in their heels against repealing Donald Trump’s massive 2017 tax cut for the ultra-rich.

There will be adaptations to present reality and future prospects, or there will be terrible conflicts.




Judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.

Simón Bolívar

Bear in mind….

Everyone knows the beautiful story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. How this noble father led his child to the slaughter; how Isaac meekly submitted; how the farce went on till the lad was bound and laid on the altar, and how God then stopped the murder, and blessed the intending murderer for his willingness to commit the crime.

Annie Besant

Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.

Hannah Arendt

In order that punishment should not be an act of violence perpetrated by one or many upon a private citizen, it is essential that it should be public, speedy, necessary, the minimum possible in the given circumstances, proportionate to the crime, and determined by the law.

Cesare Beccaria



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