Friday, October 16, 2015

Guns, Money, and Seattle

The law is often touted by those who don't know it but want to abuse it, or use it to abuse others. I recently encountered such a person on first and Yesler of Seattle, Pioneer Square.

A security guard, who was harassing people for smoking attempted to use the law, by lying to the cops. Of course the cops know he's lying, I'm the most regular customer in this area.

But the details are not important, the important part was that he was abusing a law which the police here cannot enforce just to discriminate against one type of person for no reason. This is typically done by religious people, who think they are immune to their own laws but everyone else must follow them.

The end result is that law enforcement become untrusted by people, security companies fail to deliver, and businesses crash as customers decide to just cross the street instead of dealing with an arrogant nit. This is the problem faced in Pioneer Square, businesses are trying to find a balance between policing trouble and inviting customers.

Security companies are often their last resort, but that always fails and thus the businesses always fail when they resort to them. There are uses for security guards, the biggest is as a deterrent.

Deterrents are large, imposing figures that discourage criminal activity. It's a psychological ploy that works very well, the imaginary deterrents will always work better than active ones.

"What you think is happening is always worse than what is really happening," this is a fact of the neural networks we call our brains. Our imaginations are our worst enemies, they will concoct millions of scenarios that will make us fear the unknown.

The problem lies in the active deterrents, such as guns or confrontational security guards, these create an attitude of aggression. They remove the imagination and give people a clear and present target, one for which they can place all aggression on.

Psychologically, when an aggressive target is presented the brain goes into active defense, creating and fueling intensity. This will, inevitably, escalate into violence.

We see the effects often in the USA, comparing to the UK where police are relatively unarmed, most criminal activity in the USA results in violence from someone. In the UK, the imaginary deterrents keep the situation calm enough that criminals will not often resist.

Pioneer Square is losing many of it's good businesses, and all we are getting in return are bars and clubs. These invite criminal activity, and force the law enforcement to tolerate drunken behavior.

In the meantime, the owners of the buildings are driving customers away from good businesses like Starbucks, Subway, tattoo shops, even our local convenience store. This vacuum is deteriorating our neighborhood, then they complain that no one wants to rent their spaces to convince the city to hand them tax breaks for those empty spaces.

The problem that we now face is that there is not enough in our budget to cover them, especially because of the failed transportation projects we have thrown millions at. The best solution is one which even I do not like, but it is required.

we must cap all rents in downtown Seattle, including housing and business rents, to encourage growth. We must also stop allowing building owners to discriminate.

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