A growing push to dismantle police forces across the United States should be a heavenly melody from a Mozart symphony to the ears of anti-government libertarians. Abolishing the government monopoly on security? Did the Coronavirus turn everyone into a Misesian? That’s wishful thinking because this “defund the police” campaign is more about militant nannyism, as social justice warriors (SJWs) want to institute a progressive utopia by enforcing logic-defying leftist measures already on the books and enacting other laws to mandate that the public adhere to the 3×5 card of allowable opinion.
For years, the libertarian movement – not the milquetoast variety – has lamented the state monopoly on security. If there is competition in every function of society, then why not in policing? It can often appear that the government crime squad exists only to enforce the comprehensive list of rules, regulations, and restrictions that serve no other purpose than to fill up state coffers and make totalitarian do-gooders look like they are doing something. Whether it is hassling senior citizen barbers for refusing to close their shops or preventing people from consuming raw milk, a lot of modern-day policing has devolved into punishing the 123,232 victimless crimes.
Should every level of government defund or disband the police? Sure, if these politicians also eradicate the tens of thousands of laws that avoid the non-aggression principle (NAP). But that is not what the folks in major urban centers are advocating.
In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd, rioters and looters are not demanding the end to minimum wage laws or COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. They just want to take their aggression out on the cops by replacing them with community patrols that will still inevitably lead to violent altercations between SJWs and offenders. What happens if a business refuses to abide by egregious bylaws or if a homeowner decides to own an AR-15? How would an officer comfortable with being a keyboard warrior on Twitter respond to a gun owner from Arkansas?
It is safe to say that the people who have taken to the streets, violating public health orthodoxy, are the same individuals telling others they hate senior citizens and want to kill their grandmother for going to the park. More than likely leftists patrolling the streets would arbitrarily apply the laws, contradicting the mob’s central message of justice and equality.
That is the conundrum that should have libertarians second-guessing their endorsement of this “defund the police” mantra. What’s the adage? Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. But if this is not the solution to law enforcement overreach and brutality, what would be the genuine libertarian path to a live-and-let-live philosophy that still ensures NAP is not violated?
Free Market Answers
Surprisingly, the socialist left inadvertently triggered an exciting discussion on free markets – the very system they loathe – by getting involved in policing. Could this be a sensible reform in the quest for justice? It is an idea hard to contemplate because all we have known is the grip of the Leviathan’s tentacles.
Leftists may not want to believe it, but free-market economics can resolve a lot of the systemic problems facing police forces nationwide. The pricing system is imperative in a capitalist society since it sends critical signals to businesses about what demands need to be satisfied. Since there is no pricing mechanism in government security – and no profit and loss – departments are ignorant of what resources need to be allocated, which are determined by consumers. Because the central planners control police, bureaucrats and politicians get to choose haphazardly.
Since demonstrators are ostensibly requesting the abolition of government security, this should mean they would welcome market competition in this realm. Households can employ private security teams, communities can hire agencies, and local governments can accept bids for policing contracts. These welcome libertarian alternatives would lead to better results and fewer cases of brutality due to the company satisfying market demand and facing competition from industry rivals.
Perhaps this would be wishful thinking among the libertarian anarcho-capitalist crowd. Are there any pragmatic approaches? Liberty Nation’s Legal Affairs Editor Scott Cosenza made a list of police reform panaceas that would likely be more beneficial than whatever the socialist left is promoting:
“Changing the union contracts under which the police operate is key to a better force. Ending the drug war, eliminating qualified immunity, and instituting rigorous training will do much to resolve the crisis between the police and the policed. But these tactics will ultimately be unsuccessful unless profound changes are made in police labor contracts, which are often lopsidedly pro-police.”
Could Tom Woods, Dave Smith, or Ron Paul get behind these concepts?
Then and Now
What a difference a few days make. Yesterday, leftists snitched on their neighbors for having a few people over for wine and steaks, nurses blocked the street to protest the anti-lockdown protesters, and health experts wagged the finger at people going to the beach. Today, leftists want to dismantle the police force, nurses applaud thousands for violating social-distancing guidelines, and health experts perform mental gymnastics to endorse the Black Lives Matter protests while simultaneously condemning anyone who desires a haircut. Perhaps we should dismantle the thought police, rescind 99% of the laws on the books, and leave everyone alone with the Second Amendment. This is real reform.
Read more from Andrew Moran.