Let’s count it down, shall we?
Failed attempts at gun control? Check.
Increasing crime rates? Check.
Violent, ruthless street gangs? Check.
Politicization and corruption of law enforcement? Check.
I have seen your future, California, and it looks a lot like Caracas.
Interview With A Professional Kidnapper
Gonzalez began by explaining “the market.” He targeted Venezuela’s middle classes, rather than the rich. Going after the rich invited additional police scrutiny or, worse heavily armed private guards driving armoured vehicles. For the same reasons and because they seldom had Venezuelan bank accounts that could be quickly emptied, it did not make economic sense to kidnap foreigners.
Before deciding whether to kidnap someone, gang members followed their movements closely for about a month to understand how and where they lived, worked and played. This was not only to figure out the best time and place to grab them, but also to find out whether their kin were likely to be able to cough up a ransom of 100,000 to 200,000 bolivars (about US$300 to US$600 on the black market, US$16,000 to $32,000 at the official exchange rate).
And before you think, “Well, that’s just Venezuela. What are the chances this could happen close to the U.S.?”…
In Mexico, with its history of drug-war violence and corrupt police, kidnapping is an old story. In the past, the crime tended to target the rich. Now it has become more egalitarian. Victims these days are often shopkeepers, taxi drivers, service employees, parking attendants and taco vendors who often work in cash or in Mexico’s “informal” economy. Targets also tend to be young — students, with parents willing to pay ransoms, are commonly targeted.
The only two things that are holding back this nightmare scenario from happening that I can see are the (mostly) honest police forces in the U.S. and the presence of a well-armed middle class.
When those two things go away, what hope is there for the citizenry?
Being your own first responder by arming yourself is a very good thing indeed, but it’s even better if it is also backed up by the fair and firm rule of law. When the rule of law becomes politicized, the criminals will realize that politics is the way to power.
Update: A little cheerful reading for you on a Tuesday morning – When the Music Stops. I’d like to believe that such a scenario is unlikely (even improbable), but given the reality of today’s political situation, I can’t.