During lockdown, it was reported that some states had their police pull over cars with out-of-state plates, asking where they were going. If the driver answered with “just passing through,” they were let go with no further hassle. The newspaper told them this. Otherwise, they were told to stay in place for fourteen days. Was this program a good idea? To answer these types of questions, I like to do a cost-benefit analysis.
On the one hand, many people are nervous around cops. Pulling them over might trigger them into doing something crazy. Even if it doesn’t, it increases their general stress level and this is something to be avoided if there is no good reason for it. Pulling people over also inconveniences them, it costs taxpayer money to pay the police to stand out there all day, and it puts the police at risk being on the side of the road where they might be hit.
On the other hand, it all might be worth it if the virus is halted and thousands of lives are saved. Unfortunately, the fact that people were still able to pass through with no enforcement mechanism or way of checking up on them later means that nothing was accomplished. Those who were going to be responsible anyways were responsible anyways and those who were going to be irresponsible anyways were irresponsible anyways. The police wasted their time and yours for no good reason.
There were costs with no benefits. Math proves the program had no net benefit. How could anybody think this was a good idea?