Stop Helping People, Damnit

The NYPD is planting abandoned bags in public places and arresting people who pick them up. The article makes a few guesses about how many of those people might be trying to return the bags to their rightful owners, but I don’t really care what the proportion is. The net effect of the policy is going to be to reduce people’s trust and convince them that trying to help out other people creates a real chance of getting in legal trouble. So the police department is, in effect, doing its damndest to undermine solidarity and civic trust, which a lot of evidence is pointing to as the most important factor in creating safe and functional cities.

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