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Police state USA vs Amsterdam experience

Sometimes what we are used to becomes how we think it simply must be. I read this at the website of a financial advisor, thought others might be interested:

Two weeks later, after the mini-symposium on “Forecast 2012” in Amsterdam on Saturday, January 21, I had another experience that would surprise many USA citizens, and again demonstrates the disconnect that has subtly evolved between the government and the people it serves. After the very successful mini-Congress, the organizer - Irma Schogt of Schogt Market Timing – invited two other symposia participants and myself to dinner at a well-known French restaurant. We split a fine bottle of wine. We had dessert, and then left to take me back to my apartment. As we drove along the main thoroughfare, the traffic was diverted to the right of the road. We were in a queue. Irma, the driver, said this diversion was for drivers to be given a breath-alyzer test for alcohol. This is what they do at this hour on Saturday night in Amsterdam. It is an “agreement” between the people and the police. No one wants people driving who are drunk and may be a threat to the safety of others. After a few minutes, it was time for Irma to take the breath-alyzer. I was nervous, because I know what happens in the USA if you are pulled over and found to have a blood alcohol limit that is ”too high.” But Irma passed the test just fine.

“What would have happened if you had failed, Irma?” I asked.

“They would have pulled me over and asked me to step out of the car and go eat or walk, or do something, and then come back and take it again until I was under the limit for safety.”

I am thinking. “This isn’t real.” But it was and it is. In Amsterdam, the focus is on prevention of problems via cooperation between the people and its government to provide safety for its people. It is a quite different relationship here in the USA.

Why and how have we become so disconnected from our government, or vice-versa? Why is it that the rest of the world is living our dream, the dream of our founding fathers for a cooperation between the government and the people who elect it to serve? Are we losing touch with this aspect of our national character? Is it true that we are not in a state of decline from these founding principles, as President Obama stated? Can we ever get it back? Answer me that!


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Part of the problem is too

Part of the problem is too many cops but part of the problem is so many laws that we have basically criminalized almost everything: http://www.amazon.com/Go-Directly-Jail-Criminalization-Every...

I made a joke last 4th of July, Independence Day...

That when I was a kid, you could ride down the road shooting fireworks out of the back of a pickup truck while drinking beer...and if the cops saw you they would stop you, pour your beer out and send you home with the most sober person behind the wheel.

Today, if you send your 10 year old out the back door with a lit sparkler in his hand the cops would come and arrest you both.

Somewhere in there is a happy medium that we passed a long time ago.

And to answer the question,

And to answer the question, No, in my opinion we can never get it back. Nothing short of a revolution and Soviet style break up and start over. The American people get angry at the mere suggestion that other people have freedom, much less that other people are freer than we are or that we could do things less brutally or that our cops are anything other than selfless heroes. You can thank the Santorum/Huckabee worldview for a lot of that.

This reminded me of a Bill Bryson book

a travel writer on Copenhagen, here is the excerpt

As I walked back across the square towards Strøget I encountered a small crowd by the town hall and stopped to have a look.

Two police officers, a man and a woman, both young and blond and as gorgeous as everyone else in the city, were talking softly and with sympathy to a boy of about seventeen who had clearly ingested the sort of drugs that turn one’s brain into an express elevator to Pluto. Disorientated by this sudden zip through the cosmos, he had apparently stumbled and cracked his head; a trickle of blood ran from above his hairline to his downy cheek. The police officers were wearing the smartest commando-style uniforms I have ever seen – navy blue jump suits with lots of zips and velcro pockets and loops holding torches and notebooks and portable telephones and, for all I know, grappling hooks and rocket launchers. They looked as if between them they could handle any contingency, from outbreaks of Lassa fever to disarming a nuclear submarine.

And the thing is, this was probably the biggest thing they would have to deal with all evening. The Danes are almost absurdly law-abiding. The most virulent crime in the country is bike theft. The city is so safe that Queen Margarethe used to walk from Amalienborg Palace to the shops every morning to buy flowers and vegetables just like a normal citizen. I once asked a Dane who guarded her in such circumstances, and he looked at me with surprise and replied, ‘Why, we all do,’ which I thought was rather sweet.

The police officers helped the boy to his feet and led him to the patrol car. The small crowd dispersed, but I found myself following them, almost involuntarily. I don’t know why I was so fascinated, except that I had never seen such gentle police. At the patrol car, I said in English to the female officer, ‘Excuse me, what will you do with the boy?’

‘We’ll take him home,’ she said simply, then raised her eyebrows a fraction and added: ‘I think he needs his bed.’

I was impressed. I couldn’t help thinking of the time I was stopped by police in America, made to stand with my arms and legs spread against a wall and frisked, then taken to a police station and booked because of an unpaid parking ticket. I was about seventeen myself at the time. God knows what they would have done to me if they had found me in a drugged stupor on a city bench. I suppose I’d be getting out of jail about now. ‘Will he be in trouble for this?’ I asked.

‘With his father, I think so, yes. But not with us. We are all young and crazy sometimes, you know? Good-night. Enjoy your stay in Copenhagen.’

‘Good-night,’ I said, and with the deepest admiration watched them go.

Such a contrast with severe

Such a contrast with severe punishment happy America. I was in Austria last summer and the only time I saw cops was when they pulled over on the side of the road to help a guy change a tire. Cops would never do that here.

Unbelievable isn't it? I

Unbelievable isn't it? In America the authorities look at the people as sheep who exist to be fleeced. I remember the first time I saw a drunk guy sitting on the street in Ireland right in front of two cops. I asked the person with me "Aren't the cops going to arrest him?" He said "No, they dont' arrest people for being drunk, why would they do that, unless they're acting crazy or messing with somebody why would they put a guy in jail just for being drunk?"

I've seen the same thing all over the world. Of all the places I've been only America seems to look for any excuse to lock people up. Maybe that's why we have the highest incarceration rate in the world. We have 5% of the world's population adn 25%, a full quarter of the world's prisoners. China, with over 4 times our population locks up less people than the United States: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/americas/23iht-23pri...

Such a great reminder

that there are alternate solutions to the challenges that are part of our human life. Thanks for sharing. Such a more graceful way of handling a problem with a dramatically reduced cost to the humanity of people.



No reason why this can not be done VOLUNTARILY at the local level.

Except that local governments

Except that local governments would never do that here. They count on revenue from tickets and fines and putting people on probation and draining them dry for years at a time. Our government, unlike the government of Holland, is at war with it's people and its troops are the now militarized local police.

We can and we will get our country and government back!

Because there is a Revolution going on! :)


"The greatest mystery of all is truth." - Me, 2009

psnow's picture

So true. And so sad.

Thanks for posting. It has me thinking. I can remember a time like this even here in the midwest of the USA. It was over forty years ago but basically the same. More than once being out late and after being pulled over, the officer would offer to follow me home and let me off the hook with a warning. "If I find you out again like this......"
Now; seems the war is on. Doesn't effect me directly, I don't drink anymore, but I've had to deal with friends and family who have been through the hellish system that has been put in place for even the slightest infraction. Car confiscated, jail, lost drivers license, attorney fees, court costs, dui school, insurance problems, probation, and a permeant arrest record. Its turned into quite an industry here now, and it seems all you have to do is "follow the money" as I think back to how it WAS. I doubt it will ever go back to the 'good o'l days'.
And hey! This is all minor compared to what will happen if you are found holding a joint or two. Oh yes, now we're talking a felony, and looking at some real hard time. Here where I live, in a three strike state, we could be looking at a LIFE TERM! You think not? I have a good friend that must think about this everyday. He is recovering from cancer treatment and is self medicating. He also has 'been in the system' a time or two.
So, thanks again for posting and allowing me to reminisce about how it felt to be FREE. And the police were there to 'protect and serve'.

"I just want to live in a free country" - Dr. Ron Paul