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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Police in Billings MT just shot the hell out of somebody’s stolen pickup.
They wounded and caught the thief, who had a “long criminal history” (that usually means previous arrests)which apparently did not stop him from stealing someone’s property.
I’m guessing the pickup will be totaled.
There is a town, near Sugarland, Texas I think, that got rid of their police force and hired a much smaller security company. Their costs went down drastically and so did crime. The security force focused on the criminals and barely noticed everyone else. It’s working like crazy for them.
Most people don’t know that insurance companies once founded and funded fire departments. It lowered their risk so it was worth it to fund them.
Your point in re insurance funding fire departments is well-taken. It’s an excellent real-life example of the way things can be done cooperatively without collectivism and coercion.
What exactly do the police do right now to protect property rights ????