Numbers, budgets, charts and graphs about government finances. That’s what we do here. We try to understand where public money should be spent and what it accomplishes.
Through that lens, it’s difficult to know where to begin on what has befallen the Chicago area and most of the country.
For now, this simple observation seems paramount: The most fundamental element of the social contract between government and the people is cracking. That’s the obligation of government to keep its citizens safe. For that, we surrender a portion of of our freedom and wealth to government for the collective good.
That arrangement has been recognized as a foundational philosophy of civil society since Thomas Hobbes articulated it over 300 years ago.
Citizens expect government to protect them from rioting and looting just as they expect it to protect their lives and adhere to to a civil process when being arrested. Both expectations are now broken.
“The sight of looters and arsonists pillaging stores at will has shaken the confidence of many that law enforcement is capable of maintaining the peace. It has also tainted the very real grief felt over the tragic loss of life.” That’s not from a source that’s unsympathetic to George Floyd or protesters. It’s from an editorial in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
What will be the consequences breaking the social contract? Speculate if you want, but know that it may extend far beyond George Floyd’s murder and the resulting violence.