Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Police - A Private Market Solution

When folks talk about why we need government - one of the first arguments is - to provide services.

We have seen over and over again, education comes to mind, how private enterprise solutions are less expensive and produce better results. Of course in the case of education, bureaucrats are not willing to give up their control and their profiteering just to benefit students.

It is the same with other services. Arbitration works better and cheaper in many cases than the court system - yet remains under used.

In many cases private solutions would work better, but are so subject to regulation that they end up even more inefficient than government. Electrical service is one example. In California the government had screwed up power supply so bad they pretended to privatize it. They left power under so many rules and regulations they could claim privatization failed and then take it back after some fixes were applied. Private enterprise never had a chance.

Here is one to think about.

competition for policemen and police forces.

The pressure to provide good service, and not use excessive force, would impel competing teams to provide balanced protection. The best teams would get the best contracts, and seek to be even better.

Poor police teams, violent teams, and arrogant teams would not keep their jobs. The best officers would be sought for competing teams - and without tenure would strive to stay the best.

The biggest problem would be in who gets to choose and oversee the teams. Politics is a corrupting influence. There are remedies for political corruption, such as term limits, that go beyond this discussion.

Of course politics is corrupt without police team competition already. Over time many police departments develop their own subculture of corruption. It would be nice to be able to toss them both out and start over.

There are answers out there - most begin with less regulation and smaller government. Private solutions can be created to keep control out of the hands of the four bigs.

To stand this argument on end I will quote Harry Browne - a hero of the efficient government battle. Harry died March first and will be greatly missed for many reasons, his insight into personal freedoms is one.

Read Harry Browne's books if you can find them, How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World, is one - a classic well worth the high used book prices. Maybe your library has a copy.

Harry asked a question that went something like this:

"Would you give up your favorite government program to pay no taxes?"

I doubt if police departments are many people's favorite government program.


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