Watching COPS

Tonight I watched COPS after a long hiatus – just a couple of the episodes they post on Hulu. Same old format (which I like): “Bad boys, what you gonna do … ” and then letting the cops themselves narrate. I’ve always enjoyed this show.

This time, though, it was not cool. Two arrests jumped out at me. The first, in Cook County, Illinois, was a young man who was arrested and had his car impounded for a dime bag of weed. Seriously, impounded car, for a dime bag? Makes me feel like John McWhorter might be right.

The second was a man near Tampa, pulled over on his way to work for an expired registration tag, who wound up being arrested for driving with a suspended license (he says that it was suspended for an unpaid seatbelt ticket – I don’t know if that was true). In tears, he said that he had a daughter, that he needed to work in order to get his license and registration straightened out. This guy wasn’t real together. The car was a mess, he had a roach in his ashtray, and he was twitchy as anything.

But what struck me was this: this man had is license to work revoked when his license to drive was suspended. That is not right. We have built such a car-centered society in the last 100 years that people without licenses now comprise an underclass. Tom Vanderbilt is right: it shouldn’t be so easy to get a license, or so hard to lose one.

The solution? Work toward a society in which it is much easier to live without a car. Incentivize businesses staying in (or relocating to) cities and near suburbs. Divert money from building more and bigger highways to beefing up and better subsidizing public transportation. Although I love rail of all types, I recognize that that will probably mainly mean buses. One way or another, this has got to change.

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