This week the NYPD fired the officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold that resulted in death. This decision by Police Commissioner James O’Neill would indicate that Garner’s death was caused by Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Black Lives Matter asserts that Garner died as a result of racially charged police brutality. But it could be argued that the story of Garner’s demise goes much deeper.
While a case could be made that there is some truth to both these claims, they do not add up to the whole truth. The real reason – the essential cause of Garner’s death – lies at the feet of leftist New York legislators who passed the Draconian laws that New York’s finest are charged to enforce.
And Draconian is not too harsh a word for what’s taking place in America. History reminds us that Draco was an Athenian legislator who wrote a code of laws that called for the death penalty in the case of even minor offenses.
If this seems a bit abstruse, let’s consider for a moment the stated reason for the police confronting Garner in the first place. Despite an assertion by journalist Matt Taibbi that the New York resident was approached by officers because they were under orders to “clean” up the corner, police maintain it was because Garner was selling “loosies.”
Loosie is slang for a single smoke that can be purchased for a few cents – usually somewhere between 10 cents and a quarter. And why, pray tell, would people want to buy only one cigarette? Could it be because New York’s nanny legislators have driven the price of a pack of cigarettes into the stratosphere? Today the Big Apple is home to the most expensive smokes in the nation, at $13 a pack. Back when Garner was alive, it was probably around $10.50. Rest assured, all that money isn’t going into the pockets of Philip Morris.
Ultimately, these astronomical prices aren’t going to affect the nicotine addiction of Buffy from the Upper East Side, but for those on a limited income, you can bet your derriere it does. Loosies are part of those innocuous, do-gooder sin taxes. As Liberty Nation Economic Correspondent Andrew Moran pointed out, “The sin tax eventually morphed into pecuniary penalties on a wide range of goods: tobacco, gambling, candies, drugs, gasoline, and so much more. We didn’t rebel, though. We just accepted it.”
Drink More Green Tea or Else
Sin taxes are designed to regulate behavior, and they are being enacted from one end of America to the other at warp speed by liberal legislators who feel the need to control the conduct of their constituency. Promote health, scarf up a bundle of money – what possibly could be the downside here? That’s the mentality of lefty legislators who can’t stop themselves from telling you what to do and taking your money in the process. It may have started with smokes and booze, but it has morphed into taxes on sugar, fat, and meat. This political crusade rakes in a lot of tax money – something the left likes more than almost anything else on the planet. Moran estimates that as of 2014, “states have collected about $33 billion in sin tax revenues.”
Yes, that’s billion with a “b.”
You don’t see a ton of poor people in the organic aisle at Whole Foods. And they are not the ones standing in line for a Maui Wowi with an energy boost at Jamba Juice. If you are making ends meet with a welfare check, chances are you do not want to pay $12 for a bunch of grapes. This is not a stereotype; it is reality. So, the political party that advertises itself as a champion of the underprivileged work overtime to tax its communities and then direct law enforcement to implement its Draconian laws.
It’s doubtful that many New York officers went through rigorous training at the academy because they had a burning desire to arrest and incarcerate poor people for selling individual cigarettes on a street corner. This in no way excuses the heavy-handed actions of Pantaleo against Garner. His untimely death was unnecessary. Garner was not a danger to society that fateful day when several cops shoved his face into the pavement. But as a people who can think beyond one step, we must look more closely at what caused the NYPD to go after Garner in the first place.
Perhaps this sounds old-fashioned or out of touch, but why do elected officials believe it’s their duty to force everyone to conform to what they think is best? Some folks want to drink a Super Big Gulp. Others want a Big Mac and supersize fries. People like Garner just should be left in peace.
It seems the control freaks on the left would do a better job for the poor if they just stopped trying to legislate behavior and adopt a live-and-let-live attitude. Had that been the case, Garner might be alive today – or perhaps not, as he was overweight and in poor health – but at least it would have been his decision and not that of so-called progressive legislators who not only think they are better than you and me but also act like they know better.
Leesa K. Donner is Editorial Director of Liberty Nation. Her writing has been published in American Thinker and CNS News, among others. She previously worked in the broadcast news industry as a television news anchor, reporter and producer at NBC, CBS and FOX affiliates in Charlotte, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. Leesa is the author of “Free At Last: A Life-Changing Journey through the Gospel of Luke.”
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by Liberty Nation.