More on Police Layoffs in Oakland

by Jack Dunphy

Yesterday here on the Corner, I commented on the impending layoff of 80 police officers in Oakland, Calif., and on the cuts to police service that would result if those layoffs came to pass. On Tuesday, negotiations between the city and the police union failed to reach a compromise, so those 80 officers, about 10 percent of the department, will in fact be let go, effective immediately.

Over at The New Republic’s website, Jonathan Chait took notice of my post and drew an odd inference:

The liberal position is that the federal government, which can borrow money, should give money to state and local governments in order to minimize such dislocations. The conservative position is that such grants are wasteful big government. I’m not sure Dunphy is aware that he’s making the case for the liberal position.

If one is disposed, as Chait apparently is, to look to the federal government for intercession in local problems, one might indeed see my post as an argument for the “liberal position.” But I am not so disposed, and in commenting on one consequence of the financial bind the city of Oakland now finds itself in, I was most emphatically not making the argument Chait infers.

To be clear, I believe in the now-quaint notion of enumerated powers as defined in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. If the city of Oakland is unable to pay for those 80 police officers, it is an unfortunate byproduct of its misplaced budgetary priorities. But it should not fall to the taxpayers of Oakland, Missouri, or Oakland, Tennessee, much less their children and grandchildren, to dig all the more deeply into their pockets to subsidize the city of Oakland, California. That’s the conservative position.

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