Incentivize peaceful protest
My current city of residence is Toronto. That’s in Canada. Toronto, this weekend, will be hosting the G20. As has become custom since the Battle of Seattle, protestors like to turn out to these things and like to get violent. Starbucks, ATMs, Nordstroms Rack, they’re all fair targets for the mallets, bricks, and firebombs of these radicals who seem to think property damage is the most efficient method of remaking the world into whatever paradise they think they can make the world.
Arguably they have some good points when they’re not smashing stuff I find highly useful, like a pleasant Starbucks downtown or an ATM. As a Canadian I tend to view the middle path as the sensible path. The middle path is achieved by letting the extremes duke it out.
But it comes back to I don’t want my favorite Starbucks closed three days because they have to vacuum up glass slivers. And I find it a little weird that they’re going to torch the ATM I use to withdraw money to spend on stuff that gets taxed to provide the subway and bus service they’ll use to get to their little drum circles/mailbox torchings.
In anticipation of all this ultra violence, the Canadian government is spending nearly $1 billion on security and the like. Sadly, they’ve set aside nothing to compensate companies that have to replace store front windows.
A billion could go a long way in ameliorating hardships Canada’s poor have to endure. So again, it’s a little curious that the protestor actions will result in basically money that could go to programs for the poor having to go to security to keep protestors from destroying things everyday people use. One might argue the government would never go “okay we only have to spend $100 million on security so we’ll spend the $900 million savings on Canada’s poor or HIV drugs for Africa.” But then Canada is running a budget deficit and trying to balance it with cuts. Guess what will be cut first? Social programs.
But people who sit in a drum circle and plan how to smash things that ultimately pay for the social services they want more of aren’t really going to make that kind of leap in logic.
My solution then is to give protestors a very direct cash incentive. Get the leaders of the various factions together. Explain $200 million is set aside for school breakfast programs for Canada’s poor kids, new daycare slots, etc. This is $200 million over and above what Canada has already budgeted for such programs. Each day there is no violent protest, they stick to areas of traditional protest (e.g., the grounds of the Ontario legislature), $50 million goes to these programs. A day of violence means the kiddies, the sweet innocent hungry children, get less.
Hopefully, the protest leaders now have a real cash incentive to self police.
Alternatively, set up a damage compensation fund. Damages are paid out to businesses and what’s left is donated. Again, a protestor has to know that torching a hotdog cart means $3,000 less for a hungry child.
Heck, the charities themselves can be even voted on by the protest groups.
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