The union that represents LAPD officers informed Mayor Eric Garcetti that the police will not help him enforce his orders to shut off the water and power to houses where parties are held.

Garcetti said last week he is cracking down on people who have these prohibited gatherings. Of course, the mayor is one person. His ability to enforce anything depends on his ability to order someone to enforce it.

He can order the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to turn off the utilities, because the LADWP is a city-owned utility run by political appointees and staffed mostly by members of public-employee unions whose salary demands are negotiated with the city government.

Theoretically, he can also order the LAPD to enforce his orders. But union leaders are standing up for the officers.

“Mayor Garcetti wants to reimagine policing. He should send his civilian staff to turn off people’s electricity & cut off their water,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League said on Twitter last weekend, “Let officers deal with the rise in shootings and killings in L.A. We need a leader and not a political contortionist.”

It has escaped no one’s notice that mass gatherings for protests, even riots, that meet with the approval of government officials have been granted an exclusion from the restrictions forced on everyone else.

The union’s imagery of a political contortionist nicely captures the pretzel-like twists of many politicians who have cited COVID-19 as a reason to sue churches and release criminals.

In March and April, the terrifying images and exaggerated projections of illness and death were enough to scare most of the public into staying home. But as time went on, more and more people joined the ranks of those who were not willing to sit home and tremble. The large parties in the Hollywood Hills could be seen from a helicopter, but some government officials have expressed their concern that families and friends are getting together inside their own homes and governments can’t do much about it.

The police union is right, it’s a bad idea to have officers knocking on doors and threatening to shut off the utilities. Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to have officers knocking on doors.

If you think it isn’t a bad idea, you’re dangerously close to the mindset that accepts stormtroopers breaking down doors for the good of society.

If you want to live in a free country, get out of that mindset.

The use of fear in politics is bad enough without stormtroopers. Consider the campaign of fear that some Democrats in Washington are waging over the decision by President Trump to issue an executive order deferring the payment of payroll taxes for Americans who earn less than $104,000.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement declaring themselves “disappointed” that the president has decided to “endanger seniors’ Social Security and Medicare.”

It takes some panic-mongering skill to simultaneously frighten people that they’re about to die from a virus and that they may outlive their money.

The truth is that Trump’s executive order delays the payment of payroll taxes for a few months. This means a paycheck that normally sees a deduction of 6.2 percent for Social Security and Medicare won’t have that amount withheld. It’s a slight boost to take-home pay. Temporarily.

It’s no threat at all to Social Security and Medicare. Anything anybody says to the contrary is a political scare tactic.

This has been done before, by President Barack Obama. The money was later made up with payments from the Treasury’s general fund. It was no threat to Social Security’s future then, and it’s no threat now.

Trump could do this as an executive order because it’s only a deferral. The money has to be paid back when the deferral period is over.

Congress can pass legislation to let everybody off the hook for repaying it. The president will be making that argument, which will probably be a political winner for him, which explains why the Democratic leaders are so cranky about it.

Facts fight fear. That’s why it’s so important to have a free press and an open internet. Censorship, like stormtroopers, has no place in a free country.

Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. [email protected]. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley


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