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Limited Government and Privatization

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Here we go again...

It has been said that government must monopolize force and therefore cannot operate the same way the free market does, since that would lead to violence.

But is it really true that privatized enforcement of the law inevitably leads to violence between the private enforcers?

Even if that is so is there no way to prevent such a scenario without a absolute governmental monopoly?

Is there no way to limit the government even further so that they may not abuse their current position in which they and they alone may appoint the head of the police and courts.

I propose a constitutional republic in which government cannot come into contact directly with its citizens.

It would look like this:

Public sector

  • Democratically elected government, that has the power to write laws
  • State Guards, who protect state employees and buildings
  • Military, to be deployed against foreign enemies and to protect government buildings, if the state guards aren't enough
    They should have more fire-power than all the private security combined.
  • Supreme court
  • Secret Service

Private sector

  • Private Police to enforce the law. Anyone could run a police business, but they would have to abide by govt. regulations and laws.
    If the private police refuses to follow the law the supreme curt may issue a purge that would allow the state to make a contract with another police to capture or eliminate the lawbreakers.
    If that doesn't work, the military should step in as a final solution.
  • Private Curts, to handle dispute. They would be contracted to the police.

A person may contract and pay for the police, if he needs their service. Others such as charities or insurance companies may also pay the cost if applicable.

The government would put on a tax on the private courts and private police as payment for the laws and that would be the only source of funding for the government in peacetime.

The government may also hire the public police and courts if the government was damaged in some way.

The private police would have to deal with government and market laws which should increase the quality of the service.

This article is probably incomplete in many ways, but I think it has enough detail to it to start a conversation.

Is there any reason why the proposed system could not work?

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Must probably private law enforcement agencies would take care on the law breakers even without government intervention simply in order to prevent the coercive monopolization of the market by mafia style thugs.

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The system we have in place for this isn't really that far away from what you are saying. Local police forces operate more or less independently and while they rely on some locally compelled taxes, they are locally elected typically and locally funded.

As a side note, I've been meaning to insert this into the conversation: although most people's direct exposure to government comes local things like roads, police and fire departments, Objectivism doesn't really have that much to say about these arrangements. In a prototypical "perfect Objectivist world", these local issues really wouldn't change much in structure.

The good news is that these issues, in the grand scheme of things, don't effect your life very much. If you take a quick look at your overall taxes you'll find that only a pretty small fraction goes to these "local" services like roads and police and fire. (Schools are a different story of course, but I'm not talking about that here).

Further, the court system is an example of something that is not a huge driver of higher taxes. If you combine the virtually non-existent impact that has on our lives with the relatively risky move of "privatizing" the "service", such a move seems impractical. Ditto for your "two tier" system above. Why do it? These services have a local monopoly by definitions (lest we have two fire departments racing to the same fire), so why add a layer of management?

And just as a caveat: you cannot blame the output of the courts or the particular laws the police enforce as examples of the current system breaking down--the problem you are solving is the cost inefficiency of our court system and police.

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As a side note, I've been meaning to insert this into the conversation: although most people's direct exposure to government comes local things like roads, police and fire departments, Objectivism doesn't really have that much to say about these arrangements. In a prototypical "perfect Objectivist world", these local issues really wouldn't change much in structure.

False.

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Local governments are structured exactly the same way the federal government is: they're based on majority rule and forced taxation.

Objectivism has exactly the same amount to say about them that it has to say about the federal government. Stop posting nonsense.

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I’m not sure what the difference is in your example outside of voluntary funding. How you describe public or private law enforcement sounds similar. The only real benefit from privatization of the police and courts, at least from the arguments of its supporters, is that it allows multiple competing courts and law enforcement in an attempt to dilute authority as an extra step of checks and balances. But unless I’m reading you wrong you are not suggesting that, you are simply changing the name of who is assigned the power to settle disputes, tries criminal and civil cases, and who enforces the law. Perhaps some clarification?

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Local governments are structured exactly the same way the federal government is: they're based on majority rule and forced taxation.

Objectivism has exactly the same amount to say about them that it has to say about the federal government. Stop posting nonsense.

Objectivism has no specific opinion on the contents of contracts, and the fundamental rights of man are necessarily not decided at the local level. The town you live in might have a Charter and a set of ordinances but is nothing compared to the US Constitution.

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In Objectivism the proper function of government is " the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws." The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 107

It has nothings to do with schools, roads, hospitals etc...Its mean function is to define objective laws, that is-legislation. In Objectivist society the backbone primary source of the government financing should be privately run and voluntary funded law enforcement agencies. They will pay to courts to administrate justice and to government to provide the proper legislation-since without these two things they won't be able to function. The military run by government , also should be privately funded. If citizens won't pay for military, it would mean they don't need it. The private security forces is an insurance policy and a guarantee both against government and corporative mafia style coercive monopoly on the use of force.

Edited by Leonid
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In Objectivism the proper function of government is " the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws." The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 107

It has nothings to do with schools, roads, hospitals etc...Its mean function is to define objective laws, that is-legislation. In Objectivist society the backbone primary source of the government financing should be privately run and voluntary funded law enforcement agencies. They will pay to courts to administrate justice and to government to provide the proper legislation-since without these two things they won't be able to function. The military run by government , also should be privately funded. If citizens won't pay for military, it would mean they don't need it. The private security forces is an insurance policy and a guarantee both against government and corporative mafia style coercive monopoly on the use of force.

This is all far, far to specific to be called Objectivism. The other fallacy I see in the above is the notion of a sort of a "poly-lawism" or "competing governments". Such a notion implies a subject view of the truth.

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I think this idea is a good one, but I think that

1) There should be a fee in order to be able to vote on the federal level. This is a good barrier to entry and also this helps fund the government.

2) There needs to be a middle level .I was thinking democratically elected sheriffs I mean direct democracy, no voting restrictions. They would also enforce the law and handle private agencies if something is wrong.

The job of the sheriffs office is essentially to make sure that due process is followed. This means keeping the private courts objective and in line. They would also help coordinate angencies in emergency situations.

3) Private police agencies are fine, private courts should only exist for civil matters. All criminal matters need to go to government courts to make sure due process is followed.

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In Objectivist society all institutions, including all types of courts, law enforcing agencies, military, legislature and government itself should be privately and voluntary funded. Introduction of fees for vote would eliminate completely the idea of representative government and therefore is not acceptable. People always would voluntary pay good money for protection of their life and property and for administration of justice to the law enforcement agencies, private or governmental. But these agencies needs courts and objective legislature in order to be able to operate. Therefore they will pay for these services. The system of financing should be therefore build bottom-up from the grass-root payments for essential service to jurisdiction to government to legislature and not top-down. That why voluntary payment for essential services for protection is a source and backbone of financing. Cannot see why it's not Objectivism? Moreover, in Objectivist society government cannot stop the private agencies or courts to operate as long as they don't initiate force-that would be a violation of NIF principle. Therefore the competing law enforcement agencies and all kind of courts are not only possible but inevitable in Objectivist society. They won't be able to avoid the implementation of the objective law-because that would mean infringement of rights and nobody pays in order to be abused. However they will compete on cost and quality of service.

Edited by Leonid
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But it's introducing capitalism into the single place there should be none, which

is the "robotic" servant of the citizenry. I think the only entity that's not free

within a system of individual rights, is government.

Bear in mind, "a government official may do nothing except that which is legally

PERMITTED." This allows no room or consent for 'creativity' (as I call it) by

government.

Which private agencies would evidently tend towards.

Of course private security agencies will survive, but they have the same restrictions

against initiating force - and would be delegated the moral rights to self-defence of, and for their clients.

They remain subordinate to police and law courts.

Objective law is that which is predictable and uniform across a certain geographical

area. Only a single 'monopoly of force' by this much-reduced government should be responsible for applying it.

Ayn Rand: "Remember that forcible restraint of men is the only service a government has

to offer. Ask yourself what a competition in forcible restraint would have to mean."

Edited by whYNOT
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Ayn Rand: "Remember that forcible restraint of men is the only service a government has

to offer. Ask yourself what a competition in forcible restraint would have to mean."

Yes but where do you draw the line between private and public, between markets and government?

Government can forcibly restrain any private police force. What more could you possibly need to keep them from biting each others tongue?

Government doesn't produce guns and all the stuff they need to operate, so why must they be the only service possible for the enforcement of the law?

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But it's introducing capitalism into the single place there should be none, which

is the "robotic" servant of the citizenry. I think the only entity that's not free

within a system of individual rights, is government.

Bear in mind, "a government official may do nothing except that which is legally

PERMITTED." This allows no room or consent for 'creativity' (as I call it) by

government.

Which private agencies would evidently tend towards.

Of course private security agencies will survive, but they have the same restrictions

against initiating force - and would be delegated the moral rights to self-defence of, and for their clients.

They remain subordinate to police and law courts.

Objective law is that which is predictable and uniform across a certain geographical

area. Only a single 'monopoly of force' by this much-reduced government should be responsible for applying it.

Ayn Rand: "Remember that forcible restraint of men is the only service a government has

to offer. Ask yourself what a competition in forcible restraint would have to mean."

The emphasis is on protection, not restrain. Obviously to protect some people you have to restrain others, the criminals. But criminals are not clients of the law enforcement agencies, they don't subscribe with them and don't pay for their services. The law obedient citizens do and restrain is a service provided to them, not to the criminals. A competition would be then on the cost and quality of this service. However there will be no competition on the process of restrain itself-it will be done in accordance to the objective law. People wouldn't sign up with any agency which operates by arbitrary law or on whim-it simply not safe. Instead of protection such an agency could only provide abuse-and who is going to pay for it? As for creativity-there is a plenty of room for it-how about to improve the response time from 2 hours to 3 minutes? How about to conduct DNA test on suspect in half an hour instead 2 weeks? How about to speed up the legal process? How about to increase the conviction rate from 10 to 85%. How about the crime prevention visible policing, significant reduction of the cost as result of competition and so on and so far...If this is an introduction of capitalism-capitalism should be blessed. As a matter of fact government monopoly on force is a myth-millions of people possess guns and use them in self protection. Even without guns they can use the force even with club or their bare hands. Hundreds of private security companies operate without to shoot each other. The real government monopoly is not on the use of force but on objective legislature which places such a use under strict supervision of objective law which is based on the recognition of man's individual rights and NIF principle.

"If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules.

This

is the task of a government—of a
proper
government—its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government.

A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control

i.e.
, under objectively defined laws." The Nature of government by Ayn Rand.

Observe, that Ayn Rand who is usually very precise in her definition doesn't say that government has to run law enforcement agencies or even courts. Its primary task to provide the objective code of rules-that is objective legislation. In other words government has a legal monopoly which pertains to the use of force. Then Ayn Rand makes another very important point. She says : " it ( government) should be an impersonal robot, with the laws as its only motive power. If a society is to be free, its government has to be controlled." Controlled how? In Ayn Rand's view, by law-government can do only what is legally permitted. But there is the catch. If government has a coercive monopoly on the use of force it can enforce any laws, objective or otherwise. Government which both legislates and enforces laws cannot control itself. The control is only possible if legislature and enforcement of laws is separated. And here the privately funded law enforcement agencies can provide valuable service by refusing to enforce any explicitly abusive law which contradicts the existing objective legislation. They will do so because they are payed in order to protect, not to abuse their clients.
Edited by Leonid
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"An impersonal robot" was Rand's term, of course, not mine. It signals her intent, which I

completely agree with. To be "creative" in methodology - in efficiency, technical

know-how, etc. - doesn't clash with being "uncreative" in implementation.

It's consistency and impartiality we need there, from this delimited government.

Frankly, it isn't easy - living as most of us are under fat,nanny States - to fully

envision such a free society. It does presuppose a large majority of (if not rational

Objectivists!) reasonable, self-responsible citizens. Government would be so skeletal, as to

be unrecognizable, and be hardly noticed. With essentially one task only, the protection of individual rights, it would become expert and focused at it - and attract talented and honest people

to work for it.

As we know, with voluntarism and individualism, would follow a greater good-will

among people; with capitalism, growing wealth and self-respect.

All in all, I'd fully expect citizens to be highly responsible, crime to be low, and

government to be mainly above reproach. A monopoly sure, but a small one, which would

have no ambitions to grow.

Don't you think?

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I wouldn't trust any government , no matter how small with the coercive monopoly on the use of force against the legally disarmed citizens. Originally American government was small and mainly operated under the objective laws. But with time it became an abusive monster and the best Constitution in the world couldn't prevent it. With monopoly on power government cannot control itself.

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From other hand In my country, South Africa I never heard about any litigation against private security agency for the abuse of power. However such a claim against police department is almost daily event.

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Leon,

It all comes down to a 180-degree shift in the citizens' mindset: when

government is perceived as one's servant, acting within narrow parameters.

When people no longer demand or need anything from government, but their

rights upheld. When policing becomes the friend of the populace. In short,

the end of the ideology of collectivism-altruism. That would have to precede

any system of governance, not follow. Politics after morality.

(Back to "grassroots", as you said.)

The weak link is always democracy, in that a majority could eventually

vote away its own rights: We get the government we ask for, and deserve.

But why should they? Success breeds success, and if not for the sake of

liberty, people will in the very least vote with their wallets.

As I said, it is hardly possible to fully imagine this new society - but

I believe attempting to transpose the concept upon what we know now, or the

Statism we have now, is the wrong way to go about it.

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Leon,

It all comes down to a 180-degree shift in the citizens' mindset: when

government is perceived as one's servant, acting within narrow parameters.

When people no longer demand or need anything from government, but their

rights upheld. When policing becomes the friend of the populace. In short,

the end of the ideology of collectivism-altruism. That would have to precede

any system of governance, not follow. Politics after morality.

(Back to "grassroots", as you said.)

The weak link is always democracy, in that a majority could eventually

vote away its own rights: We get the government we ask for, and deserve.

But why should they? Success breeds success, and if not for the sake of

liberty, people will in the very least vote with their wallets.

As I said, it is hardly possible to fully imagine this new society - but

I believe attempting to transpose the concept upon what we know now, or the

Statism we have now, is the wrong way to go about it.

The best democratic system is the one in which people vote with their wallets. That why privately funded law enforcement which should be in charge of enforcement of the government laws is an antidote to abuse by government. Citizens may explicitly hold collectivist-altruistic premises but implicitly they do want their rights to be protected and will not pay for the violation of them. So the mind-set to uphold individual rights already exists, at least implicitly on the grass-root level.

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The best democratic system is the one in which people vote with their wallets. That why privately funded law enforcement which should be in charge of enforcement of the government laws is an antidote to abuse by government. Citizens may explicitly hold collectivist-altruistic premises but implicitly they do want their rights to be protected and will not pay for the violation of them. So the mind-set to uphold individual rights already exists, at least implicitly on the grass-root level.

It does raise the interesting question of could one settle for a society of individual

rights - when a large, 'critical mass' of collectivist/altruists still exists in it?

If it were remotely possible to implement, would it be desirable, advisable - and rational

It is all very well voting with one's wallet (pragmatically) but real, lasting self-interest

by conviction, of the moral kind, is by far the primary. Otherwise, the cycle of statism

will just return again down the line.

(Resulting in private agencies becoming private fiefdoms, I imagine, so the end of the nation.)

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Statism is a realm of state and we discuss grass-root level. On this individual level even the most hardcore collectivist/altruist would seek protection of his right to live and to own property and will pay for it. This is his both pragmatic and implicitly deep moral conviction, his explicit altruist philosophy notwithstanding. Very few of them, if any, would volitionally submit themselves to the government abuse. Therefore I think that even in society in which altruist-statist explicit philosophy rules supreme, the vast majority of the people would vote with their wallets for the individual security, rights and freedom, no matter what their proclaimed philosophy is. Remove the government coercive monopoly on the implementation of abusive law and human nature will take its course-statist/collectivist society will collapse as a house of cards. Private agencies would never become private fiefdoms-unless they establish government or mafia style coercive monopoly on the use of force. But then we are not talking anymore about private voluntary supported agencies but criminal gangs. Any attempt by any agency to establish such a fiefdom would be immediately crushed by the joined forces of all other agencies for the simple selfish and pure capitalist reason-gang warfare is expensive, messy, and there is no profit in it. It much easier and cheaper to get the voluntary support of the population and to provide rights' protection in return, than to get involved into the endless war with the competing agencies for which nobody will voluntary pay. This also always the possibility that government will move in the military in order to stop the bloodshed. So for all practical and moral selfish reasons fiefdom is not an option. And the most important argument-these security companies already exist, they provide very good protection and they don't shoot each other. The weird Ayn Rand scenario in which she describes such a warfare pertains to the situation in which different competing governments operate on the same territory and use arbitrary non-objective laws. This is real anarchy and gang war could be the only outcome. These agencies don't act for profit but power for the power's sake. I describe a situation in which all agencies operate for profit and that is possible only if they operate under united objective code of rules provided by the process of legislation. That what we need government for.

Edited by Leonid
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