Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dayenu: Is It Really Ever Enough?

I was visiting Chicago this past Shabbat, and I was in shul listening to R. Leonard Matanky give a d'var Torah during Shabbat Chol HaMoed Passover services. After his prefatory comments, he began his remarks on the Passover song דינו ("It would have been enough for us"; Dayenu). Dayenu, which is a popular song in the Passover haggadah, is a fifteen-stanza tune that expresses the thanks for the gifts that G-d gave the Jewish people during the Exodus, ranging from freeing the Jewish people from slavery to giving the gifts of Torah and Shabbat.

Taking his insight from Dr. Israel Eldad's haggadah, R. Matanky brought up an interesting question: was it really enough? One of the stanzas said that it was enough for G-d to take the Jews out of slavery. But what good would that be without the Torah or a raison d'être? What is the point of being thankful for G-d bringing the Jews to Mount Sinai if G-d had not presented the Torah? Traditionally, we keep saying Dayenu either because we have done nothing to deserve G-d's mercy or because we should be thankful for every little thing that G-d does. The point that both Dr. Eldad and R. Matanky were trying to make was that Dayenu was not meant to be literally. It was meant to be a springboard to help us think about what is enough.

This springboard is where I would like to make my comments on the matter. In Pirke Avot (4:1), Ben Zoma asks what makes for a rich person. His response?

השמח בחלקו, or "the person who is satisfied with his own lot." Ben Zoma's response brings us to a paradox in Jewish thought. If we are happy with what we have, doesn't that translate into passivity? If we're supposed to be happy with what we have, why bother striving for more?

A lot of the commentary surrounding this Pirke Avot verse has to do with material wealth (Commentary, Pirke Avot 4:1, Rashi, Magen Avot, Tiferet Yisrael). As R. Matanky brought up, people have way too high of standards when it comes to material wealth. We are always looking to own the latest technology and acquire mass amounts of wealth because they think it will fill in the void. Spiritual fulfillment is conflated with acquiring material wealth, and the crossing of wires leaves many highly unsatisfied.

When it comes to spirituality, however, many people set the bar too low. For many, it is regrettably set so low that they are lulled into a sense of complacency of doing enough. Judaism is not a religion of passivity. Judaism is not a religion in which we say Dayenu because we did something and we were meant to stop. We are meant to continue developing ourselves as better humans, help our fellow man, and foster a stronger relationship with G-d. As R. Zelig Pliskin points out in his book Happiness (p. 68), "In spiritual matters, look up and raise your sights. But when it comes to material and physical matters, look down."

In addition to raising the bar in spiritual matters, we can resolve another paradox of human nature. As humans, we are partly physical creatures and partly spiritual creatures. G-d didn't create us to be angels, but He didn't create us as animals without impulse control. We have free will. In Jewish thought, we are created in His Image. In this respect, we are "good enough." On the other hand, we were meant for more; we were meant to strive and constantly improve in our spiritual lives. As the Sages once said, although we were not meant to complete the task, it does not excuse us from desisting (Pirke Avot 2:21). Let Dayenu be a reminder that while we are to recognize where we have progressed spiritually, we are more importantly supposed to remind ourselves that we can always strive for further spiritual development.

Friday, April 18, 2014

More Legal Immigration In the United States Would Mean More Tax Revenues

We just had Tax Day, which gets me thinking about a myriad of tax-related topics. After reading an article from the Center of American Progress, I was thinking about taxes in the context of immigrants, whether they are legal, temporary, or unauthorized. One of the arguments that is commonly used against illegal immigration is that unauthorized immigrants do not pay taxes. "If they only mooch and don't pay their fair share, we shouldn't let them in," or so goes the argument. I looked at the issue of the economic impact of legalizing more immigrants about a year ago, and these immigrants are far from being moochers. As a matter of fact, they create a net positive economic benefit. The discussion I present here will be two-fold: 1) unauthorized immigrants already pay taxes, and 2) immigration reform that would grant these immigrants citizenship would mean even greater tax revenue.

Unauthorized Immigrants Pay Taxes
The argument used to bolster the anti-[illegal] immigration crowd is that unauthorized immigrants do not pay taxes to help fund the system. Supposedly, the jobs of unauthorized immigrants stay in the underground market, which means it doesn't circulate back to the licit, formal economy. Much to the dismay of the naysayers (e.g., the Heritage Foundation), unauthorized immigrants already pay taxes.

Anytime that an unauthorized immigrants buys gasoline, food, clothing or any other good, they have to pay consumption taxes. Unauthorized immigrants also pay taxes on property (also see here), even if they have to rent. Additionally, they also pay income taxes. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 6 million unauthorized immigrants, or about half, file income taxes return each year (CBO, 2007, p. 6).

More Legal Immigrants = More Tax Revenues
Not only do unauthorized immigrants already pay into the system, but if they were granted citizenship, they would contribute even more money (partially because of the higher wages they would earn). The idea here is that unauthorized immigrants work in the underground economy. By removing these workers from the informal economy, these workers can be taxed in line with documented workers with similar incomes. A recent study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) confirms this economic theory, as well as the fact that unauthorized immigrants already pay taxes. The ITEP study estimates that legalizing immigration would increase state and local tax revenues by $2B per annum. According to the Social Security Administration (p. 3), only 3.1 million unauthorized workers paid Social Security taxes, which means legalization would increase tax revenues. Furthermore, if only half of unauthorized immigrants pay on income taxes, then the government would be able to collect on a majority of that other half.

For more impact on the state and local level, let's use the state of California as an example because California has a high population of unauthorized immigrants. What are the effects of not granting these workers legal status? The federal government misses out on $1.4B in tax revenues from California, and the state of California loses out on $310M in income taxes per annum (Paster et al, 2010, p. 1).

Last year, the CBO was analyzing the effects of S. 744, which was a piece of immigration reform legislation that would, amongst other things, grant legal status to a number of unauthorized immigrants. While doing its analysis, the CBO found that between 2014 and 2013, the legalization engendered by S. 744 would cause an increase of $459B in federal tax revenues (CBO, 2013, p. 2).

In summation, unauthorized immigrants already paid taxes. If we liberalized the flow of labor into this country, our country would experience further economic growth and our government would be able to collect more tax revenues as a result.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting My Hooks Into the Idea of Property Rights for Fisheries

The effects of environmental issues such as anthropogenic climate change, genetically modified food, or whether oil production has hit its peak have been and continue to be debated. One issue where I find it to be nigh impossible to debate is that we are depleting the world's fisheries all too quickly. If we don't do something to maintain the population of various fish species, we will find ourselves with a longer and longer list of extinct fish. The question we need to ask ourselves is how we got to this point and what we can do to mitigate the situation. Upon reading a publication from the Cato Institute, I came across a viable possibility: property rights for fisheries. This can be done in the form of a catch share, which is a quasi-property right that allows for an individual or entity to harvest a certain percentage of a fishery's total catch limit. The idea here is to conserve resources while maintaining the fisheries' value. I can imagine skeptics curmudgeonly lambasting the idea because they think that "privatization leads to exploitation of our natural resources." Aside from me disagreeing on that one, we should ask ourselves how we got into this mess in the first place.

Tragedy of the Commons
In economic terms, a fishery is treated as a common good. A common good is both non-excludable and rivalrous, which means that not only one cannot prevent others from having access to the good, but a consumer's consumption of a unit of the good prevents other consumers from consuming it. Most tangible goods, including fisheries, qualify as rivalrous. The issue with common goods is best illustrated with what has been dubbed as the Tragedy of the Commons. Using the hypothetical example of a parcel of land used for grazing, Garrett Hardin showed that if all individuals independently act on their own self-interest, the land would be overgrazed. The individual is incentivized to use the resource until depletion, which hurts the whole group [or society] and its long-term interests in the end, hence why it's called the Tragedy of the Commons. The non-excludability of a rivalrous good is what causes the good to be depleted as such. If anything is the tragedy here, it is that we treat fisheries as a common good.

Theory of Property Rights and Fisheries
The current fishery management system, which has been entrusted to the government in a command-and-control fashion to ensure resource sustainability, does not incentivize conservation, but rather incentivizes depletion with total disregard for the longevity of fisheries (Also, subsidizing the fishing industry exacerbates the issue). The government putting entry limitations in place, per-trip catch limitations, or shortening the fishing season has done nothing to stop depletion. Property rights can stop the hemorrhaging by turning the common good into a private good, which would entail making the good excludable. Limiting the access would help restore fisheries. It's about stewardship and providing individuals with the incentive to maintain both the quantity and quality of fish. 

Putting the Rights-Based System in Practice
In practice, catch shares are a very promising solution (Costello et al., 2012; Grimm et al,. 2012; Deacon, 2009Costello et al., 2008; Kerr et al., 2002), particularly because they have been proven to lower collapse rates, which improve resource sustainability. The Food and Agricultural Organization is on board with the idea, as is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the latter of which believes that the catch-shares system removes "race for fish," increases profits, reduces by-catch, and improves safety. In spite of its successes, catch shares make up only 2 percent of world fisheries (probably due to much resistance of those who kvetch about "their right to fish"). 

Although a rights-based management system has its benefits, it is not a catch-all policy and has its limits. There are concerns that although it creates better resource sustainability, it does not necessarily improve ecological conditions (see Branch, 2008). There is also the issue of government involvement. Much like private-public partnerships for national parks, it is difficult to get around the government playing a role. Not only is there a political feasibility issue, but issues of maritime law and national security play roles in the regulation of coastlines. By utilizing the individual transferable quotas (ITQs), which is the most popular form of catch shares, there is an additional cost to entry in the occupation, as well as the potential corruption that would ensue during the allocation process. With rules such as limits on these permits, there is also an issue that the privileges are not secure, transferable, or secure enough, which would defeat the purpose of having [de jure] rights in the first place. Although I have general skepticism about government management, catch shares are overall a preferable policy alternative to the current management systems that do not implement any sense of property rights. 

In summation, what we have to realize is that catch shares are an allocation tool that succeeds when implemented properly. Catch shares coupled with catch limits would go a long way in making catch shares successful. By aligning desired ecological outcome with economic incentives, we can replenish our fisheries so that future generations can enjoy the value that fisheries provide.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Bittersweet Passover Lesson of Eating Maror and Charoset

With Passover coming up, I was reading about the various aspects of the seder. There are a plethora of steps in the seder, which means a whole lot of questions. I started wondering about מרור (maror), which are the bitter herbs that one is required to eat during the Passover seder. Where does this practice originate? What does מרור represent? And why are we to mix מרור with חרוסת (charoset), the sweet mix of nuts and fruits?

The practice of מרור comes directly from the Bible (Exodus 12:8). The Talmud expounds upon this practice. According to the Talmud (Pesachim 120a), not only are we supposed to swallow the מרור, but we are supposed to taste it. If the bitterness of the מרור is not tasted, the mitzvah has not been fulfilled. Why do we need to experience the taste of bitterness?

The traditional answer given is that we are supposed to taste a bitterness much like the bitterness that the Israelites experienced while they were slaves in Egypt. While it can represent the bitterness of slavery, Passover is primarily the holiday that represents redemption, which is why Passover is also referred to as זמן חרותינו (literally "the time of our freedom"). Passover is about realizing that exerting free will is the human aspect that liberates us. Part of being free is not being insulated from life's difficulties. In this case, consuming מרור is a reminder that we experience bitterness in life. The world is a cold and dark place. Life can be quite cruel. There is death, injustice, loss, regret, and there are some things we cannot sugar-coat. This is why when מרור first consumed during the seder, it is consumed by itself. The second time we eat מרור during the seder, we do so with חרוסת (Pesachim 114a, 116a). The חרוסת reminds us that we can temper the bitterness with a sweet taste, hence why eating מרור the second time around is bittersweet.

Another tidbit here is that חרוסת, unlike מרור,  it is optional, i.e., it is not one of the three requirements of the seder (Mishnah Pesachim 10:3; Talmud, Pesachim 114a). What can learn from this voluntary consumption of חרוסת? The reason that consuming חרוסת is not a commandment because it should be our own choice whether we add sweetness to our lives. Life is a combination of the bitter and the sweet. If life were sweet all the time, it would get really boring really quickly. If it were bitter all the time, we would question the point of life.  Redemption is realizing that life requires both, and that we produce our own hope. We do so by choosing how we approach life. When something terrible comes along, how do we make sure we are resilient enough to get through it? When things are going great, how do we make sure that we don't get thrown off if there is a bump in the road? We choose how we react to the bittersweetness of life, and by realizing that we need to make the best of it is a way we can apply the lessons of the Passover seder to our everyday lives.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

France's Debt Is Bad Enough Where the EU Is Chiding France

I don't exactly have the highest threshold of dealing with government's fiscal irresponsibility, but for whatever reason, France seems to grab my attention. Is it as bad as Greece? No. But still, France does a bang-up job. Although France has a history of having a solid credit rating, its credit rating downgrades (most recently from Standard and Poor's) signals that something is amiss. Economic trends must be pointing in an even more downward direction if I end up reading in the Financial Times earlier this week how France is in violation of European Union budget rules because France cannot keep its budget deficits below 3 percent (Ministères de Finances et de l'Économie, 2014, p. 17). The French government is now in a quandary of figuring out how it can reduce its budget deficits without greatly agitating its citizenry. It might be tempting to blame this on the recession. After all, it is why these budgetary rules were implemented in the first place. Looking at France's GDP growth in recent years shows that its tepid GDP growth was an issue even before the recession.

What France needs to do to deal with debt sustainability in the medium-to-long run versus what they will do to keep the European Union placated will be two different things. This is not simply a matter of politicians, regardless of the country, who like to delay major fiscal reform as much as possible. France was the country that had its laborers strike in an uproar a few years back because the government was going to raise the age for retirement benefits from 60 to 62 years. What's more is that GDP projections back in 2012 were a lot more rosy than the current situation (Ministères de Finances et de l'Économie, 2012, p. 3). I expect a minimalist compliance with the European Union so that the bureaucrats get off France's case. As to what they should do, that's a whole different story.

I found a report by Balázs Égert over at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) covering the topic of how France should reduce its debt. For those who know, the OECD is hardly a bastion of laissez-faire thought. Even so, I was surprised at how much they were concerned about France's unsustainable debt to the point where they were suggesting forms of fiscal consolidation. The major suggestions for public debt consolidation were in the arenas of the public pension system and the health care system, which is no surprise because they tend to be major drivers of federal budgets. The French government also has a reputation of being very liberal with worker benefits, which means that if France has an aging population issue (like the OECD report states), then the French government is going to need to reform labor laws so that benefits are not so generous, and so that French citizens are incentivized to work more hours and retire at a later time.

There is also the matter of dealing with France's tax rates, which are high. Although François Hollande recently claimed to be a supply-sider, I worry because France suffers under a delusion, a delusion in which one puts faith in what the people over at the American Enterprise Institute facetiously call the Krugman Curve, or the idea that an increase in the marginal tax rate translates into more tax revenue. If that were the case, the French government would have an enormous tax base because France's propensity to tax is staggering. France has one of the highest rates of tax revenue as a percentage of GDP in the European Union, as well as one of the highest rates of government spending as a percentage of GDP, both of which are problematic because it signals that France has to rely on its tax base and aggrandized government to drive the GDP (Hint: That's not how you get real economic productivity).

Without the conversation being too tangential (since we can delve into each sector and go into detail as to specifically what France can do to reduce its deficits), I suppose the point of the article is that if France is going to seriously reform its economy, it needs to tackle the more systemic issues. Its rates of taxation are too large, as is the state, neither of which can maintain solvency in the long-run. Anything short of market liberalization and cutting the excessively lavish social-welfare programs will only perpetuate France's debt sustainability issues.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Yes, the Fight for Same-Sex Marriage Is Very Similar to the Fight for Interracial Marriage

It looks like this is the second time this week I will be taking the Heritage Foundation to task for shabby analysis (here is the first). A week ago, Ryan T. Anderson at the Heritage Foundation wrote an article entitled Is Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage at All Like Opposition to Interracial Marriage? No., and it reminds me once again that when the Heritage Foundation tries to analyze social issues, it is way off. The author starts by saying that allowing for same-sex marriage is a violation of religious liberty. He then continues by saying "marriage has been and continues to be between one man and one woman." Finally, he ironically argues that although Jim Crow laws and bans on interracial marriage were based on prejudice, the argument for opposition to same-sex marriage is based on reason. I am going to respond to the author point-by-point and illustrate once again why secular opposition to same-sex marriage doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Definition of Marriage
Although this was not addressed first in the article, my comments on this question are prefatory to replying to this sorry excuse of an analysis. Opposition to same-sex marriage is based on the idea that marriage has historically been between one man and one woman, and has been unchanging. In spite of what the opposition has to say on the matter, the definition of marriage has changed multiple times throughout history to adapt to evolving social and cultural norms. In pre-modern times, marriage was arranged by the parents as a way to improve upon one's social status. Women were essentially treated like the husband's property. It is no wonder that one could not marry outside of one's socio-economic status, religion, or race. The idea of marrying someone out of love is a relatively recent concept. There was also a time when it was acceptable for a man to marry a twelve-year old girl, and none of this counts all of the polygamy that existed outside of Western civilization. Even the Bible itself doesn't hold to the one man/one woman definition of marriage (see below). The argument that "marriage has always been between one man and woman" is simply false. Even if it were true, it is still falls under the logical fallacy of argumentum ad antiquitatem because the fact that something has been done for many years has no bearing on whether it is correct. Like any other institution, marriage can adapt and evolve for the better. In its simplest terms, marriage is a contract between consenting individuals that want to develop a committed relationship. Being able to legally sign such a contract is not only a civil right, but is one of the most basic of economic rights that exists.

Is Allowing Same-Sex Marriage a Violation of Religious Beliefs?
I have to answer this question with a resounding "NO!" I tackled the issue of the violation of religious beliefs a year ago, and the Heritage Foundation's argument does not apply here. The author mentions allowing businesses to run their business in accordance with the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. This argument is inaccurate because whether a baker is forced to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding is a separate issue from whether two consenting adults of the same sex are allowed to marry each other. One has the right to believe that same-sex marriage is against the Bible, but no one has the right to impose that right on society. Doing so would be a violation of the First Amendment. If you do not like same-sex marriage, don't get married to someone of the same sex!

Is Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage Based on Reason, and Not on Prejudice? 
This is another question I have to answer with a resounding "NO!" The last thing upon which the opposition to same-sex marriage is based is reason because there is no logical argument against same-sex marriage (see here, here, here, and here). The author argues that "the bans on interracial marriage and Jim Crow laws, by contrast, were aspects of a much larger insidious movement that denied the fundamental equality and dignity of all human beings and forcibly segregated citizens." This is the author's attempt to try to make interracial marriage and same-sex marriage as dissimilar as possible. One of the differences between the two is that one can hide their sexuality, but one really cannot hide the color of their skin. If homosexuals had some distinguishing mark on them, it would be reasonable to assume that they would have undergone a segregation similar to those subjugated under Jim Crow laws.

The author's implication that homosexual individuals do not experience discrimination or that are not deprived of their fundamental equality and dignity is as egregious as it is ignorant. For one, homosexual individuals still has to deal with workplace discrimination. In terms of hate crimes, LGBT individuals are still high on the list of being victimized (see FBI Hate Crime data). LGBT youth make up for forty percent of those living out on the streets. Homosexual individuals in most states cannot adopt children. Although there has been progress made in terms of LGBT rights, most notably in terms of the right for same sex-marriage, there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made before the [legalized] prejudice against homosexual individuals stops.

Why The Fight For Same-Sex Marriage Is Similar to That of Interracial Marriage
There are many similarities between the fights between these two civil rights, one of them being that the Religious Right used the Bible to justify their views on both. With interracial marriage, it was twisting the verses about interfaith marriage, amongst other verses, to justify their bigotry. Now they're erroneously using Leviticus 18:22 to advance their agenda. For either one, opponents use the argument that this sort of union was unprecedented, abominable, unnatural, will destroy society and "traditional marriage," and will end up being a slippery slope to polygamy and incest. Also, there is that fun argument of "Oh, gay people can just marry people of the opposite sex" is very similar to "Oh, people are allowed to still marry, as long as it's within their own race." Rather than being dissimilar scenarios, the arguments that were used against interracial marriage mirror those that are currently used against same-sex marriage (see Loving v. Virginia as a legalistic example).

The fight for interracial marriage was not only won based on the idea that the color of one's skin is only skin deep, but the idea that at the end of the day, we're all human and we are all looking for love, companionship, and a deep commitment with someone, all of which are essential components of a marriage. I hope there is a day where the vast majority of Americans realize that much like individuals of color, homosexual individuals are human beings like anyone else, and as such, should be afforded the same opportunity to experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stop-And Frisk Is Touch and Go At Best: Why Put a Stop to Stop-And-Frisk?

A few days ago, I was reading a short opinion piece by the Right-leaning Heritage Foundation entitled "Is Stop-and-Frisk Worth It?" In the article, the author justified the practice by saying that the practice of stop-and-frisk is useful and is not inherently bigoted. The article is concluded with ways to make the practice less oppressive. The history of stop-and-frisk goes back to 1968 when the Supreme Court ruled in Terry v. Ohio that stop-and-frisk practices are constitutional. In 1971, New York passed Criminal Procedure §140.50, which allowed for stop-and-frisk practices. Although the practice has been legal for a few decades, the NYPD started implementing it en masse in the early 2000s. Ever since, this issue has been contentious, and given the issues with civil liberties in the stop-and-frisk practice, I have to wonder whether we should continue giving police officers the ability to stop and frisk pedestrians for weapons or contraband if the officer has "reasonable cause."

Does stop-and-frisk work?
Although I will address issues of civil liberties later, the first question I have to wonder is whether the practice of stop-and-frisk decreases crime. The study that gets closest to showing that is the study of Rosenfeld and Fornango (2011). Even they found "very few significant effects (p. 2)," and that was without considering that a longer time lag between the rate of stops and the crime rate would nullify the effects. The New York State Office of the Attorney General (OAG) published an interesting report back in 2013. For one, the arrest rate with stop-and-frisk is really low (OAG, Appendix G).

The number of stops does not translate into fewer felonies. Stop-and-frisk is not proven to lower the crime rate, whereas such factors as increased number of police officers, an increased prison population, the receding crack epidemic, and the legalization of abortion better help explain the decrease in crime (Levitt, 2004). Even possibilities such a hot spot policing (Braga, 2005) or decrease in lead paint provide more plausible explanations than stop-and-frisk. Essentially, stop-and-frisk has no real effect on the crime rates (Greenberg, 2014).

The decrease in crime that took place in the 1990s took place before the vast increase in stops during the 2000s, which would mean no causal link. As a further indication of failure, only 0.1 percent of all stops lead to weapons confiscated (OAG, p. 1), and merely 0.1 percent of all stops led to a conviction (ibid).

Is stop-and-frisk racist?
Stop-and-frisk itself is not racist unto itself because the mechanism does not target members of certain racial or ethnic background. The issue, however, is the manipulation of using stop-and-frisk as a pretext for racism, much like we saw with Arizona's immigration law a couple years back. Some think that stop-and-frisk actually protects minorities, and thus alleges that it stops crime in predominantly Latino and African-American neighborhoods. However, that does not seem to be the case. During the case of Floyd v. City of New York, Dr. Jeffrey Fagan, an expert in criminology, provided testimony that shows that even when controlled for the crime rate, there is still a racial disparity. Even the NYPD Quarterly Reports show that blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately stopped and frisked. Almost half of New York consists of black and Hispanic citizens. Even so, nearly 90 percent of the stops were of black and Hispanic individuals, although black people were twice as less likely to have a weapon than a white person (Office of the Public Advocate, p. 3). I know that correlation is not causation, but still, to claim this as mere coincidence is tenuous as best.

Constitutionality and Violation of Civil Rights
Being ineffective and quite possibly racist are already troubling enough aspects of stop-and-frisk. There is also the issue of the violation of one's rights. First and foremost, there is the issue of the Fourth Amendment, which was brought up in Floyd v. City of New York. The Fourth Amendment doesn't prohibit any search or seizure, but rather it prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Going back to the data, there were 2.4 million stops conducted from 2009 to 2012 alone (OAG, p. 8). However, six percent of stops led to arrests, and only 0.1 percent led to conviction (OAG, p. 1). If reasonable suspicion was the primary reason for allowing the searches, wouldn't a low arrest rate and conviction rate undermine the justification for stop-and-frisk? Since the vast majority of stop-and-frisk encounters are that of innocent citizens, one cannot argue "reasonable search and seizure" with a straight face. And as the previous section on racism shows, there are also issues with violating the Fourteenth Amendment.

This "tough on crime" policy harkens back to the 1970s when New York City had astronomically high rates of crime. Maintaining such a mentality while holding onto an ineffective policy does not do any favors for the citizens of New York City. Stop-and-frisk also erodes trust in the police (see Vera Institute of Justice study here) and increases labor costs of law enforcement who waste time on such inefficiencies. If we're going to talk about reducing crime, let's do away with the War on Drugs so that police resources can be allocated to fighting real crime. We should also discuss policy alternatives to fighting crime, but let's discuss options that actually work and don't erode our constitutional rights in the process.