Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Sean asks: Libertarians support property rights but how would property rights be protected in a country without police?
My reply: Well, let’s start by pointing out that police as currently constituted violate property rights by their very existence in that we are forced to pay taxes to finance their operations and (secondarily) because these police – armed government workers, really – regularly violate people’s property rights via literal seizure of their property as well as other forms of theft, as by “fines” levied as punishment for “violations” that caused no harm to any other person and are therefore just excuses to steal.
But how to protect property rights without violating them?
Well, by not violating them! This goes for individuals – and any entity organized by people for some common purpose, such as the enforcement of contracts and the protection of property.
Consider fire services – and insurance. These can work successfully without coercion. Those who consider the services worth the money voluntary purchase the service. The same principle could be used to finance a system of community peacekeeping (as distinct from law enforcing) and to support courts to adjudicate contract disputes and so on.
This could also be used to hold people who cause harm accountable for the harms they cause, via restitution for harms caused.
Would it be perfect? Of course not. Would people “get away” with harming others? Surely. But it’d be a damn sight better than a system in which everyone is harmed regardless of the harms they’ve caused.
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