The Republic I Fear

Hi, I’m David Brooks, and that’s incredibly comforting to both you and me because, on the one hand, I’m David Brooks, and wow!, but on the other hand, aren’t we lucky to live in such a safe, law-abiding country? When you think about it, one of the many perks of living in the first world is that you get that peace of mind in knowing that you never have to fear random stops by thugs, being killed by gangs, or having your house broken into and losing family members or your property. That’s for third-world countries.

Of course, many students from my Yale course go to these countries to build huts and grow cabbage, but the real issue, as this one book I read pointed out, is that they lack a solid, massive police state. If they had one, like in the District of Columbia, then folks in countries like Bangladesh could finally climb out of a Hobbesian state of nature and into a Lockeian prison state. And if they built prison labor camps like we do, then they could continue to make our cheap clothes without fear of collapsing buildings, because our prisons are both rugged, awe-inspiring and wealth-producing. Surely, that’s an improvement for everyone.

Now, the best way to set up this prison state is to get rid of such a horrid, ongoing state of all against all, and replace it with something like what we’ve got here in the land of the free: a War on Drugs. If Malawi, for example, had the number of prosecutors we do, then they too could force well over 90 percent of their citizens to plead guilty and take a plea bargain because, clearly, having an over-worked but free legal representation is better than having none at all, especially for black and brown people. At least you get a record in America, and in the process you can be denied all sorts of benefits, like housing, work, and welfare, and it’s all legal and official. In Malawi, nobody knows that’s even an option, and it makes me sad.

It’s clear, people: there are two worlds. America, where we are all rich, safe, and protected, and dark continents, like Africa, where chaos reigns and the police are underfunded. These places don’t need our money; they need our cops and our justice. So rather than joining the peace corps, setting up a system of militarized training, such as our exemplary SWAT teams would be a first step out of poverty and into the good life.

Now, I’m going to check my security system, pour myself a scotch, and go into my safe room to watch COPS. I recommend you do the same, and if you’re feeling the sort of undivided peacefulness that I am right now, you can read the whole story here.

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