To make Chattanooga a great city, residents should consider the extent to which they will accept the use of official violence in the city.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 92.7 FM
Force applied officially within. And force from without.
Memorial day marks the deaths of men and women serving U.S. military power overseas. The U.S. is adventurous in its wars, and is involved in 138 military conflicts, and Monday was devoted to honoring the dead and ennobling every war in which they fought.
Is casual and prolonged violence good for Chattanooga, a city of peace and prosperity, as it has been good for the federal government and its continued expansion?
It is debatable whether Chattanooga was ever great as an American city, as described by Jane Jacobs in her 1961 classic, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Certainly in the hearts of many people exists a geocentric and communitarian spirit, often informed by Christianity and the doctrines of grace. These tend toward generosity, support, enterprise and profit, a looking out for the other that is at the heart of free enterprise and the gospel.
The question of the use of official violence in Chattanooga has come to the fore with the departure in July of the chief of police, Fred Fletcher, and the search for a successor.
Mayor Andy Berke, an aristocratic marketing-oriented telegenic Democrat Jewish lawyer, has asked a group of residents to vet candidates for chief. He appears indifferent to police reforms that are taking root in other cities such as Camden, N.J., and New York, and expects them to suggest status quo prospects.
City of ideas, or of force?
But the brightness of Chattanooga’s future may be tied to its spirit of independence and its resourcefulness as described by Dave Crockett, the former city council member who in the 1980s and 1990s lead an extraordinary legislative career on city council, bringing to Chattanooga a better vision of itself.
Chattanoogans are still reaping the rewards of his controversial and collective-oriented social visioning processes that created “the environmental city.”
The former mayoral candidate’s conception is of an increasingly self-conscious city that becomes quasi-independent politically, with a high-speed rail line to north Atlanta.
Municipal use of law enforcement authority against the citizenry is being challenged, however, at its absolute base, its legal root of authority. Basil Marceaux, the perennial state office candidate, pleads in court against the use of police power within city limits and the use of inferior courts to facilitate the police state against the poor in Tennessee.
His demands aside, the question for Chattanoogans is how much coercion, arrest power and regulation do they wish to permit in the city limits? We have a lot, already, with promises of more.
➤ Zoning keeps prices high and has afflicted the poor with the necessity to relocate out of the city as prices rise.
➤ City council is reluctant to shed his rule-making pretenses as the sharing digital economy rises across the land. It wants to use the tyranny of maps and districts to regulate Airbnb and short-term vacation rentals, an unconstitutional expansion of municipal power that voids the Gig City imprimatur of Chattanooga.
➤ State-operated cartels, such as schools, deprive the city of much capital for a free market in education that would raise standards generally year by year if the tax rate could be reduced year by year, drawing new capital and entrepreneurs to the city. Undergirding the cartels: Force via the compulsory attendance statute, property taxation and support of the chamber of commerce establishment.
➤ Chattanooga may not be able to reduce the power of threat and bluff implied in federal jurisdiction in the city. But if local political representatives agree to reduce the use of compulsion, the city has an easier prospect of becoming great.
Chattanooga could become great if it has a geocentric and Noogacentric frame of mind that would lead it to become an independent city-state, or a similar organism that ignores state boundaries. Centralization has overstepped its limits, and is causing apoplexy at the center and paralysis at the extremities. It’s time to recognize we live in an era of devolution and decentralization.
For the people of Chattanooga to be liberated, they have to consider their spelling. They would be better to spell a short two lettered word, with one consonants and one vowel, correctly. Many Chattanoogans spell the word on. By on they mean getting on, going along, getting along, being compliant with, being on the bandwagon, being on the subsidy bandwagon, on tax break and bond issue gravy train, being a part of administration.
Constitutional government and Christendom rely on saying yes to self-government under God and God’s law and no to all that contradicts its liberty.
Spell the word one way you get a city trapped in bureaucracy and progressive statism. Spell it another way, you cast the ropes holding the ship to the dock.
You create an entirely opposite society.
This horizontally would imply a more equal standing among the citizens. There will not be superior people. There would not be people with special privileges and access to free capital. There would not be people with special favor in the law. There would not be state licensure, which by definition creates discrimination among classes of people. In a free society, grace would abound. Force would be minimized.
The question of the future, then, for Chattanoogans is: Do they want a lot of force, or do they want less force?
Search for police chief
The selection of the new chief of police will help us see what people believe they deserve.
“You’re known for your ideas,” Mr. Crockett says. “Chattanooga has become that place of ideas, a place of imagination and connections, where we connect strategies and connect ideas and connect people, and along the way we have unique technology connections, whether it’s the electric bus, whether it’s high speed internet, whether it becomes a high speed connection to Atlanta. It’s a place of ideas. It’s a place of imagination, and connection.”
“The least amount of force you have to use on a population is the better standard, not having to have more and more and more.”
“We have great police,” he says, and he favors high-tech such as shot sensors and license plate readers.
Policing is analogous to quality control in industry, Mr. Crockett says.
“Police are kinda like quality control at a company. And when you got a terrible problem, some people — we had it at IBM, a problem with a product — some said the solution was hire more quality control people. We had a change in leadership, and he came in and said, ‘No, we’re going to hire less. What is driving the problem?’ The idea is that, over time, we won’t have more policemen. Over time, the goal, if you’re doing things right, is that you could have less. I grew up in a town that didn’t have one; you could call the sheriff.”
Nomination on violence
If the people convince Mr. Berke to pick a reform-minded chief, that suggests the mayor and the people understand the dynamic of force vs. its opposites — grace, lenity, forbearance, patience, respect for human life, the proper use of space, cover, time and de-escalation.
If they pick a standard head-knocking top cop, with militarized operations, lines in the sand, kill zones, mass surveillance, shooting of innocent people, and his disinclination to treat with people who are mentally unstable, they will be picking the use of force for the future.
That will be a vote for force and smallness, not for peace and greatness.
Christianity and its free market subsidiary favor peace over war. They favor grace over compulsion. They favor cajolery over threat, negotiation over instant results, risk to the officer over risk to the innocent citizen, mental crisis deliverance over quick arrests.
If Chattanoogans favor a more peaceful and prosperous future they will ask that a chief of police come to his job seeking to preserve every innocent life and to protect every piece of property from lawless taking.
They will expect their chief to be familiar with the Chuck Wexler report of March 2016, “Guiding Principles on the use of Force,” by the Police Executive Research Forum, which tells how police can end the reign of brutality that has marked their service to the country for decades.
Christianity favors non-interventionism and free markets, local economy versus national economy and imperialism. These fruits of its convictions about God’s authority over the affairs of men are one beneficial to all.
— David Tulis hosts the morning show at Noogaradio 1240 AM 92.7 FM, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond. He is editor of Nooganomics.com.