Why police brutality cannot be cured

We cannot cure a disease by curing the symptoms.

The August 15, 2020 issue of Science News Magazine contained an article titled, “There’s little evidence showing which police reforms work, Rapid research is needed to find out what efforts are most effective.

The article discusses “de-escalation training,” body-worn cameras, early intervention systems, and civilian oversight of the police. The author, Robin Engel, “was unable to identify a single police reform with convincing evidence of behavior change among officers.

Should We Reassess Police Body Cameras Based on Latest Study? | American Civil Liberties Union
Cameras have not cured police brutality.

The reason is, police brutality is not the disease. It is the symptom.

Defunding the police will not work. “Reallocating police services to other agencies functions such as mental health calls or monitoring safety in schools” has not worked, will not work, and cannot work. Nor will increased funding for police.

Where police are brutal, it is because they suffer from the three “f’s,” fear, frustration, and fury.

Nothing can cure fear, frustration, and fury because they themselves are not the disease.

They are the symptoms.

Police are human. In big cities, what police experience in a day, emotionally exceeds what most of us experience in a lifetime. That makes them emotional. To ease the emotion we must cure the environment, not cure the police.

The police are caught between dangerous criminals on one side, and an ignorant and uncaring public on the other side. Fear, frustration, and fury.

Street crime is a symptom, not a disease. You could spend billions to flood neighborhoods with police officers, and you will not stop street crime. You could impose harsh sentences for street crimes — “lock ’em up and throw away the key” — and you will not stop street crime.

Bad schools are a symptom. You could spend billions to double teachers’ salaries, and to build new school buildings, and to provide computers to every student, and still you would not cure bad schools. They are only a symptom, not the disease.

Bad housing is not a disease; it is a symptom. You could spend trillions to provide everyone with a nice new house, and that would accomplish nothing. In a few years, the houses would be as bad as ever.

Housing segregation is not a disease; it is a symptom. You could pass strict laws that demand low-income housing in high-income neighborhoods, and you would not cure housing segregation. The rich would move away, the poor could not afford the upkeep, so the neighborhoods would decay.

“Food deserts” (the lack of neighborhood food sources) are not a disease. They are a symptom. It would do no good to build food stores where owners fear robberies and potential customers fear to go outside.

Juvenile delinquency is not a disease; it is a symptom. You could spend billions putting police in every school, and on every street corner; you could track down school absentees, and lecture parents, but you could not cure juvenile delinquency. It is not the disease. It is only a symptom.

I live in a suburb that borders only four miles from Chicago. While Chicago suffers greatly from police brutality, street crime, bad schools, bad housing, housing segregation, and juvenile delinquency, my suburb does not.

Bring in the psychologists; bring in the police; bring in the marchers, the preachers, the well-meaning reformers and politicians. It will do no good. You can’t cure a disease by treating the symptoms.

And what is the disease?

The disease is poverty, or more specifically, the wide Gap between the richer and the poorer.

Poverty is the disease that causes street crime, which in turn causes the fear, frustration, and fury, leading to police brutality.

Poverty is the disease the causes bad housing. Poor people cannot afford to buy or to maintain good housing. And bad housing begets bad housing next door, and down the block, and on to the adjoining blocks, until the entire neighborhood is a hopeless slum.

Juvenile delinquency is caused by bad parenting and by hopelessness about tomorrow and about years from tomorrow. Impoverished parents cannot provide time for guidance, nor money for worldly goods, nor can they provide the hope children need. Left untethered the children learn from older children, and become delinquent, stealing what they cannot buy.

12 years ago today, Fed chair Greenspan saw “froth” not housing bubbles – Orange County Register
Chairman Alan Greenspan: “There is nothing to stop the government from creating as much money as it wants, and paying it to somebody.”

America has spent millions, billions, and trillions trying to cure symptoms while pretending the fundamental disease is the fault of the victims.

The rich, who run America, and who have the power to cure poverty, are not motivated to do  so.

They prefer to shake their heads and “Tsk, tsk” at the impoverished.

They prefer to claim poverty is caused by immorality, laziness, and stupidity. They are wrong.

Poverty is — and also is caused by — lack of money. And money is the one thing the U.S. federal government does not lack.

Being Monetarily Sovereign, the U.S government has the unlimited ability to create dollars. It could fund every poverty-fighting program imaginable without levying a single penny in taxes.

It even could fund the Ten Steps to Prosperity (below) while eliminating federal taxes.

Imagine you have a broken leg, and your doctor, rather than resetting your leg, keeps prescribing pain killers, as your leg festers and worsens. That is how we treat the symptoms of poverty.

The rich do not wish to cure poverty, because that would narrow the Gap between them and the poor.

Fed wrestling with the size of aid program: Bernanke - The Economic Times
Chairman Ben Bernanke: “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”

“Rich” is a comparative term so in actual effect, narrowing the Gap makes the rich less rich. So the rich resist it.

Narrowing the Gap is a violation of “Gap Psychology,” the desire to distance oneself from those “below,” and to come closer to those “above” in any social measure.

Though money is said to be the root of all evil, it is the lack of money that is the root of so many evil symptoms.

We should stop scurrying in all directions trying to cure symptoms with treatments that are doomed to fail because they don’t treat the disease.

We should stop blaming the impoverished for “laziness” or “immorality.”

We should stop claiming that all poverty aids are “socialism,” or “paternalism” when they need to be neither.

We should stop false envy of the poor if they get something for not working; the rich do it all the time.

The key to ending police brutality and so many other evils of the world is to narrow the Gap between the rich and the rest. Our federal government has the power to do this at no cost to ourselves. The Ten Steps to Prosperity (below) is a good starting point.

So why not?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.


11 thoughts on “Why police brutality cannot be cured

  1. Very well-said, Rodger. Not every problem in the world can be cured with money, but poverty sure can be–by its very definition in fact. For a Monetarily Sovereign government like our federal government, it is literally THE easiest problem to solve, hands down. Inequality (the Gap) in itself is also at least as bad of a social problem as poverty, and its cure also is more or less the same as well. So what are we waiting for?


  2. Couldn’t it also be said that the cause of poverty is the rich. After all, they control the system. It’s their system and always has been. But how do you unself the selfish?


      1. A strong leader maybe, but an even stronger pending disaster such as what we’re going through now. Emerge by emergency.


  3. Rodger, your analysis is spot on, but unfortunately poverty is not a flaw in neoliberal capitalism, it is a feature. The lack of sufficient social safety net, including basic income, universal health care, affordable housing, public education, and food security, along with anti abortion rights, anti unionism, war on drugs, and militarization of the police, etc. are all policy choices with the intended purpose of perpetuating poverty and economic marginalization.

    While gap psychology is a key underlying motivator, the real objective is the permanent establishment of a neo-feudalistic society that relies on an economically desperate populace whose labor can be exploited on behalf of the rich. This is being played out in real time with the reluctance by Republicans to extend unemployment benefits due to the pandemic over fear the benefits will create a disincentive for “vital workers” to go back to work and risk their lives for exploitative wages.

    Deficit myth/austerity driven policies are also designed to promote increased private credit creation, rather than government spending, so that even well off families will have to assume greater amounts of indebtedness to the 1% in order to maintain current lifestyles.

    Perhaps we need 11 Steps to prosperity with the first step being getting dark money out of politics and electing representatives who work for all the people and not just the 1%. Until that happens, 10 Steps to to Prosperity will remain little more than a topic of academic interest among progressives.


    1. BINGO. Neoliberal capitalism, especially in its late and terminal stage, requires millions of desperate people who due to their desperation have little to no bargaining power. That is economic coercion, basically.

      Republicans do not want to extend unemployment benefits, let alone have a UBI, because if workers had enough free money that they were free to vote with their feet and not have to take just any job to survive, then businesses would have to (gasp!) raise wages in order to attract and retain workers, and the oligarchs can’t have that!

      That would be even scarier (from the oligarchs’ perspective) than raising the statutory minimum wage. But truly any business model that relies on widespread poverty and desperation does not deserve to exist.

      And if everyone gets a UBI, that means that small business owners would still come out ahead even if they have to raise their wages, while customers would still come out ahead even if businesses pass on the wage hikes in the form of higher prices, and everyone will have more money to spend, further boosting the economy and creating more jobs.

      And society wins with less of the adverse consequences of poverty and inequality. Thus, a net win-win-win for everyone but the greedy oligarchs. So what are we waiting for?


  4. The 11th step may actually become a combination first step, i.e., a diasterous economy brought on by a triple whammy of Covid19, bad weather, and monetary bleeding from unemployment. Without their feet to the fire, leaders won’t yield, nor their puppet masters.


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