We’ve lived to see it! “Defund the police” has become a highly visible national slogan!
That sounds like a dream to those who’ve been victims of police brutality, and even to most who have witnessed it. But…
Will the people who advocate defunding the police do it correctly?
For starters, it’s probably the wrong slogan. Please consider…
What if some people wanted to voluntarily fund the police? Would we allow that? After all…
Many have forgotten the idea of the middle ground and tend to think anything not expressly forbidden should be mandatory. Real freedom is rarely one of their permitted options. Here’s what real freedom would look like…
- You DON’T defund the police!
- You change HOW the police are funded!
- You remove the aggression.
- You replace tax-funding with voluntary funding.
That one, simple, zero-aggression change would have profoundly positive implications. It would create consumer-controlled policing. Let’s test-drive the idea to see how it would work.
A zero aggression police system would have five main features…
#1: People would pay a monthly subscription fee in return for police services.
#2: People who don’t subscribe could still call the cops when needed, but they would have to pay a premium for the service.
#3: Other firms could compete with the existing police department. Private security firms already exist, and would become even more popular if people were no longer taxed to fund the municipal police.
#4: I predict both the municipal police and their free-market competitors would provide some pro bono services to impoverished people, and would feature this in their marketing.
#5: I think some neighbors would join together to buy increased services, such as local patrols to prevent burglaries.
Could we really have free-market police?
Well, we have them now. There are vast numbers of private security firms, including companies that patrol local neighborhoods. Plus…
Each of us already has the power to make a “citizen’s arrest” when a crime has been committed.
Technically, the municipal police don’t have any more power than you do. They just have badges and uniforms. So…
The idea of competing police really isn’t that big a change. We have it already.
- The municipal police are tax-funded and mainly enforce all local, state, and federal criminal statutes.
- Free market security services mainly provide preventative services, to keep violent crime at bay.
We need to make the municipal police more like the free-market police. The best way to achieve that is through voluntary funding, as I will demonstrate below.
But wouldn’t for-profit police favor rich people over poor people?
Actually, that seems to happen already in the tax-funded system.
The subscription-based system would actually create a counter-balance. Poor people could have their own police protection. But…
Would free-market police be willing to arrest their own customers?
This is where the positive changes will be felt. The police, be they municipal or commercial, will always be willing to arrest someone who has harmed one of their clients. Robberies, assaults, and murder will be readily enforced. But…
Voluntary funding will cause the municipal police to dislike arresting people for personal lifestyle choices. There’s an obvious reason for this change in behavior…
What pot smoker or ecstasy-raver would subscribe to a service that hassles them for their peaceful behaviors?
Now you can see the power of this one little change! Absent tax-funding, there’s no market for a cop, dependent on voluntary subscriptions, who hassles his or her customers for their non-violent lifestyle choices.
Once the municipal police start losing subscribers to firms that don’t have the burden of enforcing victimless “crimes,” the municipal police will lobby the politicians to repeal those “laws.”
Indeed, this might be the best way to end victimless “crime” laws. Instead of repealing those “laws” directly, replace tax-funded police with voluntary subscription funding. That will give the municipal police sufficient incentive to get those laws changed for you.
I believe this would even extend to traffic enforcement.
I’ve been making driving mistakes and committing minor traffic violations on an almost daily basis for more than 40 years, without ever causing a single accident!
Judging by what I see, the same is true for most people. Drivers make lots of mistakes and break lots of “laws,” but cause very few accidents.
This suggests to me that strict compliance with nit-picky traffic rules has only a marginal impact on safety.
In addition, I think the main reason people try to drive well is NOT because of the traffic laws, but because they value their own life and property.
No one wants to wreck their car or break their own bones!
My intuition is further confirmed by the jurisdictions around the world that have experienced increased safety after removing traffic signs and laws!
It turns out that people tend to pay more attention and drive more carefully in such environments.
It’s self-interest that primarily protects us, NOT traffic laws. That means traffic-enforcement is really just highway robbery! And I think cops funded by subscription would lobby to do away with this aspect of “policing.”
Free market security firms don’t have the burden of enforcing local traffic laws. So many people will prefer to subscribe to police that don’t write them tickets.
Municipal cops could try to compensate for the lost business by issuing even more citations, but that would only increase customer dissatisfaction.
Nope. I think municipal cops would press hard to change the traffic laws. No more fines.
Instead, the traffic laws would be used to establish liability, and to take reckless drivers off the street. In other words…
- Minor bad driving would result in no fine
- Major bad driving could still lead to temporary detention, designed to protect both the impaired driver and others on the road
- Driving that causes an accident would result in actual liability
These changes should be popular. Citizens would have less reason to fear cops. And there would be fewer opportunities for minor traffic stops to escalate into major violence.
I think the same incentives would also cause the end of asset forfeiture because it’s not good business to rob your customers. It may bring some profit in the short term but it will cost you market-share in the long run.
Once again, voluntary funding would likely incentivize the municipal cops to lobby against asset forfeiture.
The power of this approach is stunning.
Just one community voting to create a competitive subscription police system could start the dominoes falling. Other towns and cities would follow as they see the benefits – better police protection at far less cost.
Police resources that were once used to fine and harass and steal, would instead be used to serve and protect. What a concept!
- Preventative neighborhood patrols would quickly make burglary unprofitable.
- Asset forfeiture and drug prohibition would end.
- The friction between police and the black community would evaporate.
- Violent crime, which has already been declining for decades, would virtually disappear.
- And the Feds would no longer have a local enforcement arm to implement their meddling schemes.
Defund the police? No! Instead, obey the Zero Aggression Principle. Replace tax-funding with volunteer funding. Create consumer-controlled policing!
Perry Willis is a co-creator of the Zero Aggression Project.