Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Worst Oz libertarian blog idea ever?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-06-17


This from the Australian Libertarian Society blog made my jaw drop.

Worried about bad cops, John Humphreys suggests that councils purchase police services from a range of police providers.

The best solution to this that I can see (besides strong checks and balances) is to introduce greater competition in the "security market".  This would provide an incentive to provide a better service, for a lower cost, and allow greater diversity.  The easiest way to introduce competition in the Australian system is to allow each local council to choose thier police provider.

This is like saying "the best solution to getting oxygen into the body (apart from breathing) is to pump oxygen in through a urethral catheter".

Ye gods!  Having each instance of the most incompetent and corrupt tier of government hiring from service providers (and the corrupt cops are well-versed in standover tactics) is… words fail me!

Even ALS blog denizens started choking and emitting phrases like "anarcho-capitalist" in response to the post.

What next, councils and states able to choose their own military services suppliers?

Perhaps the only thing Humphreys might stop at is letting each council have it’s own rules for contract law.

If anyone knows a worse idea from the ALS blog (which, as I said, can have the odd sensible point), then let us know.

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7 Responses to “Worst Oz libertarian blog idea ever?”

  1. Oh dear, I disagree with John’s ideas fundamentally there. There are some things I think the State must have control over, and law enforcement is one of them. The whole point of criminal law is that the State administers it, not private individuals. I think that has to extend to police forces too.

    I can just see some kind of a scenario arising involving “arrest quotas” as an indicator of “efficiency”, and different “police providers” would go round trying to complete arrest quotas by arresting people on petty charges.

    • Greego said

      “There are some things I think the State must have control over, and law enforcement is one of them. The whole point of criminal law is that the State administers it, not private individuals.”

      And what is your reasoning for this? Why can’t there be competition between not only law enforcement agencies but also legislative bodies? Why is a monopoly necessary for these services but not others?

      “I can just see some kind of a scenario arising involving “arrest quotas” as an indicator of “efficiency”, and different “police providers” would go round trying to complete arrest quotas by arresting people on petty charges.”

      This sounds like the kind of things that governments want, not private individuals. If this is an argument against John’s proposal then I agree that quotas, etc are likely to be targeted by councils so that they can ‘measure’ performance and it’s one reason why I’m not particularly excited about the idea. If it’s an argument against private police services chosen by free citizens it’s irrelevant.

  2. TerjeP (say tay-a) said

    Legal Eagle,

    I am disinclined towards championing Johns idea. However the following statement seems to be begging for an argument.

    The whole point of criminal law is that the State administers it, not private individuals.

    Surely the whole point of criminal law is to reduce crime and provide avenues for justice. How it is administered is surely secondary.

  3. Grendel said

    Since Local Councils only have authority through either state or federal legislation and have no constitutional role the point is moot.

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  5. Grendel — the State is allowed to divest responsibilities to local councils and the constitution can be changed.

    Dave — the idea of having local councils running a police force isn’t radical. They do it in America without great cost, and have elections for positions of sheriff. Hunter S. Thompson ran for sheriff once, and only narrowly lost.

    Legal — the idea that arresting innocent people would make you more popular (and therefore likely to keep your job) seems quite strange to me.

  6. There are some things I think the State must have control over, and law enforcement is one of them. The whole point of criminal law is that the State administers it, not private individuals. I think that has to extend to police forces too.

    None of this actually gives any reasons why. Why is the ‘whole point of criminal law is that the State administers it’? What does ‘administer’ mean – does that mean control every function? There are many aspects of criminal law, for example, jails: should they be owned and run by the state, using only state employed personnel? What about private legal representation – should everyone be obliged to use state provided legal services? And obviously the next question: why does that extend to police forces? Should private security companies be banned entirely?

    I’d say we use the state to administer law because it needs to be universally accepted by all the citizens of the state. I don’t think the government gives it any extra legitimacy – the quality of the legal system is entirely objective – it’s just that the legislative and judicial functions are best effected by the state because for these functions the state is a more efficient means of doing business for the most part. Beyond these functions, including large slabs of the executive, the state is just another service provider, and not necessarily the most efficient, moral, effective or accountable one. Most people don’t seem to feel dealing with government departments is a positive experience, most people want to use private health or education services if they can afford them because they obviously feel they are better. If you limit the policing function to government you should expect to have the standard inefficiencies and ineffectiveness that tends to pervade all government departments. As rule of law is quite an important facet of civil society I think accepting this sub-standard approach for the false feeling that government policing is somehow more legitimate or infallible is silly, and a society that does so deserves sub-standard outcomes.

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