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A Police Workspace
What's the problem?
Many science fiction stories set in the future depict mega-corporations with private security forces. These companies enforce their own laws and go to any length necessary to protect their secrets and their property.
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Private security and armies play a big role in William Gibson's Sprawl and Bridge Trilogies. They're also a prominent feature in many of Neal Stephenson's stories, while the Expanse series opens with a detective who works for the private security firm that staff nearly all the space stations in the asteroid belt.
It's easy to imagine these predictions coming true. The United States' decision to stop enforcing antitrust law has let corporations not just grow, but spread their scope and influence. The same political movement has also sustained continuous efforts to privatize nearly every aspect of government.
So, I needed a moment to digest this story about Walmart setting aside "workspaces" for police inside their stores.
Nearly every Walmart location has a few common departments — grocery, pharmacy, housewares — but an Atlanta store is slated to have one that few others have: police.
Plans call for the Walmart in Atlanta's Vine City neighborhood to include a designated workspace for law enforcement officers when it reopens in May next year.
Rather than ramp up their own security, Walmart is making it easier for police to work inside their stores.
The news spun this story a few ways, including the inevitable "Retail theft has gotten so bad Walmart is building a police station inside an Atlanta store." But what's really happening here? What trend might this development point to? Is it the opposite of privatization? Or another flavor of it?
Atlanta's mayor may have already given us an answer: "You’re thinking about going into this Walmart to do some shoplifting or a robbery or whatever–you see the APD logo and you say, ‘ah, not today.'"
It's privatization's closest genetic relative: corporate welfare. Atlanta is going to give Walmart its private security force, rather than make them pay for it.
We don't even need to go to science fiction to read stories about that. Just find a story where government bends over backwards for big business.
I wonder what kind of tax breaks Atlanta gives that Walmart store?