“Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.” — Oscar WildeIn the wacky world of American politics, if you as an employer have a religious objection to paying for your employees’ contraceptives, it is you who is contemptuous of religious freedom.As the New York Times editorial board lectured a judge who thinks otherwise, “the […]
Socialism is the big lie of the 20th century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may […]
Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a worldwide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I […]
I opened a new bottle of probiotics this morning, and it had one of those circular seals on the top. You know, the one that reads, “Sealed for your protection.”And that seal got me thinking… how much protection do we need? How much security is enough?How much homogenization, pasteurization, disinfection, national security, etc…. do we […]
Last spring, Barack Obama told the graduating class of Ohio State University:“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because […]
In the Huffington Post last week, Glenn Greenwald, Slate contributor Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim had an investigative piece reporting that the NSA had been tracking the online porn-viewing habits of several Muslim leaders whom it viewed as radicals. A top-secret document shows that the agency was considering exposing these firebrands’ Internet dalliances as a […]
Americans are still trying to get a handle on the full extent of the government’s domestic spying activities, including the recent revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting and storing the email address books of ordinary Americans using online messaging services. Many users of such services are looking to tech executives for […]
A few months ago at a demonstration against the president of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, a Canadian citizen made the following claim: “We don’t have guns, we are not Americans, we are civilized.” A few days before, in early July, a train of the company had run away and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing […]
From the Tongue-In-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced that her committee will hold a “major review into all intelligence-collection programs.” This surprising declaration followed the revelation, through documents leaked by government whistle-blower Edward Snowden, that the NSA has been listening to the […]
From the Tongue-in-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. – The complex negotiations aimed at bringing a long-term solution to the federal government’s expenditure and debt problem have produced an unconventional proposal. “Although the solution only focuses on a tiny fraction of government expenditures,” declared President Barack Obama, “it is a step in the right […]
I’ve just spent a harrowing weekend reflecting on Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the pamphlet that came out in January 1776 and turned the public toward seeking independence from Britain. I say harrowing because the distance between the ideals found in this pamphlet and those of today’s America is so vast as to be nearly unrecognizable.The […]
It was a wild ride last week in the world of the Deep Web, that section of the Internet that requires special tools to access. The feds took down the site called Silk Road and claim to have arrested its founder and administrator. The news streams were filled with lurid tales of derring-do in this […]
Want to know just how invasive the state is going to get in the United States?Well, take a look across the pond.In terms of the large, invasive state, we English are way ahead of you guys. We’re a good 50 or more years further down the road to serfdom.Nineteenth-century Britain was about as glorious a […]
A tense drama unfolded this week with the virtual shutdown of vital government agencies: the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as many other such federal agencies. Without them, the Founding Fathers could not have imagined the republic.Even if fewer […]
Three months after Edward Snowden’s leaks began to reveal the extent of the U.S.’ mass surveillance program, “serious people” are beginning to make the case that it’s time for the outrage and indignation to subside and give way to a “national conversation” about the future of surveillance. So has the moment come for us to […]
A sixth-grader has been suspended for drawing an inappropriate picture. The drawing did not include any gun, but showed a checkpoint backed up by a SWAT team carrying flower pots while an unarmed drone hovered above.The suspended girl, whose name is kept secret at the request of her family, said she “just wanted to draw […]
The second part of this two-part article reveals an untold part of the story about how they were stopped last time. And shows how, if not again stopped, how it could lead to a fundamental loss of civil rights and freedom on the Internet.The offending legislation was barreling down the track, seemingly — even in […]
Two years ago, Hollywood, no kidding, masterminded a plot to, in effect, steal the Internet (by criminalizing certain conduct, booby trapping the Web in ways that few non-mega-corporations could cope with). There are signs, as perceptively flagged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that the perps are back at it. We should care.This two-part article reveals […]
It has now been nearly two centuries since French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville visited America and compared American democracy to the French variety. The Martian asked his Earth correspondent to redo the comparison.The typical Frenchman thinks that Paris is the center of the universe, life without a baguette is not worth living, France is […]
I was at the Canadian border, headed toward the freedom that exists a few feet beyond the last security check. I was gently waved down a side corridor.Ninety minutes later, I was let go, but not before something truly alarming happened. I’m pretty sure that the Canadian government captured a mirrored version of my smartphone […]
Fort Meade, MD – The United States, the least unfree country on Earth, is fighting a major invasion of the Blueshirts.The most visible Blueshirts constitute a 50,000-plus army that occupies all the airports in America. Recognizable by their blue shirts and their inquisitive eyes and hands, they search and humiliate all Americans trying to leave […]
Sometimes, the news of the day causes me to say, “Huh?” The New York Times revelations last month about NSA programs and activities to enhance the agency’s ability to spy on ordinary citizens prompts today’s “Huh?” Who knew that our every phone call, Internet post and tweet is being recorded by the government?I have operated […]
U.S. and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ […]
Oh, how the media love a good strike. Look at these fast-food workers and peasants standing up to the owners of capital! They aren’t going to take the oppression anymore. The suits in the boardrooms had better shape up and stop hoarding all that money. They need to give it up to the men and […]
Like all great historical ideas, the project of licensing journalists so that they may benefit from the First Amendment was born in a very modest place. In fact, it began in the most modest of all places: the brain of Dianne Feinstein, U.S. senator from California.The new law, which was just adopted by Congress and […]
The position that there need be a state is too often taken for granted.The main body of Sartwell’s book Against the State is dedicated to destroying the arguments for a state from the likes of Hobbes, Rousseau and Hegel. In fact, one thing that becomes crystal clear in reading Sartwell’s book is how bad the […]
Crispin Sartwell is someone you should know. He is doing important work in recovering forgotten greats in America’s anti-authoritarian tradition. Among other works, he’s put forward a lean and powerful book titled Against the State.In what follows, you’ll see why he’s my favorite living philosopher. Sartwell will take you on an intellectual tour de force […]
The Cleveland Police Department took plenty of criticism when three girls that had been missing for a decade escaped captivity mere miles from their homes. Ariel Castro secretly held the girls hostage for years doing unspeakable things to them. In November 2001, a neighbor called the police when he heard screaming at the Castro home, but officers left when no one opened the front door.
Other neighbors say they called upon seeing women in the property’s attic window, but police say they have no record of the call. Various neighbors say they alerted the police to seeing leashed, naked women in Castro’s backyard. There were even reports that pounding could be heard coming from within the house and that plastic bags covered the house’s windows. The police mostly ignored the tips, the neighbors claim.
Yet if the Cleveland Police Department had believed and convinced a judge that there were drugs being consumed or sold in the Castro home, a battering ram would have collapsed the front door years ago. A dozen cops from various agencies would have stormed the place. Police don’t take those kinds of chances with a less sexy crime like kidnapping.
So while government maintains a monopoly on policing power, its finances don’t allow it to do the job adequately. Police departments prioritize chasing drugs, cash, and terrorists. Because of asset forfeiture laws, those are the crimes that pay. Pay the departments, that is. Mark Naymik writes in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that neighbors sensed that something was wrong at the Castro residence and that patrolling cops would have noticed the same thing if there had been any.
“At the moment, the hum of criticism on Seymour Avenue is about the subtle signs, such as the lowered shades or odd behavior of Castro and how he never entertained guests,” he writes. “These are the kinds of signs that police officers who patrol a specific beat over time might notice or hear about from neighbors. But that kind of patrol disappeared when community policing ended.”
The police union explained in a letter to the editor for The Plain Dealer back in 2010, “The Cleveland Police Department has never recovered from the 2004 downsizing of 252 police officers. We have been working with no Auto Theft, Community Policing, or Gang units.”
If you had to prioritize, one would think protecting against property theft and violence would be a priority. Guess not.
With these restraints in place all over the country, one would guess the criminal justice system would be lacking for participants. Hardly.
America has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. America’s prison and jail incarceration rate is the highest in the world at 756 per 100,000 people. Russia is comfortably in second at 629, followed by countries not exactly known for their freedom, like Cuba, Belarus, Belize, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Suriname, South Africa, Botswana, Israel, Ukraine, and Chile.
Saudi Arabia and China have rates well under 200 per 100,000 people.
So while municipalities are low on money, relegating “protecting and serving” to the back seat, Washington is dishing out plenty of money to fight the war on drugs. The Drug Policy Alliance estimates that $51 billion each year goes to fund the unwinnable war. The group estimates that $1 trillion has been funneled to the drug war over the past 40 years. That kind of money would put a lot of cops on the beat.
All of that money hasn’t changed drug addiction rates a lick. However, we now have 2.2 million people behind bars. According to The Sentencing Project, that’s a 500% increase over the past 30 years.
In 2011, just short of half of federal inmates were locked up for drugs. Also, the prison population continues to age. And 39% of state and federal prisoners were age 40 or over. Prisons must now be outfitted with wheelchair ramps and handrails, not to mention a well-supplied medical staff.
On his show GPS, Fareed Zakaria explained that the state of California spent nearly $10 billion on prisons in 2011, while spending just less than 60% of that on schools. The Golden State built one college campus in 2011, while building 20 prisons. California spends less than $9,000 per student at the same time it spends $50,000 per inmate.
We pick on California, but this is a nationwide problem. According to the Heritage Foundation, “The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to 4,000 by 2000 to over 4,450 by 2008.” Bureaucrats are creating new crimes at a rate of one per week.
“All inherently wrongful conduct has been criminalized several times over, yet from 2000-07, Congress enacted 452 new criminal offenses.” Heritage estimates that 60% of new crimes “have inadequate criminal-intent requirements.” In other words, people have no idea they are committing crimes by breaking these statutes.
America’s criminal justice system has turned from a priority of keeping people safe to locking up as many people as possible to maintain jobs for the criminal justice industrial state.
So while thousands are being locked up for bureaucratic made-up crimes, Ariel Castro was able to perpetrate multiple violent crimes against at least three young women undetected in a residential neighborhood for a decade.
Could such an inept provider of criminal justice and defense survive in a private society? Of course not. In his classic book The Great Fiction, Hans-Hermann Hoppe explains that collective security is a myth and “that all security is, and must be, private.”
The Hobbesian view is that without the state, men would be in a constant state of war with each other. It is argued that defense must be provided collectively. However, once the government becomes one big protection racket, it will have every incentive to become larger and larger.
Monopolists have no incentive to protect life and property, but have every incentive to provide the least amount of service for the most cost. Also, in a free market, those charged with protecting life and property would not spend resources aggressing against those engaging in peaceful transactions.
The state police force operates under political objectives. If drugs and vice are demonized and politicians see political advantage in arresting drug addicts and prostitutes, that’s where the priorities will lie.
Hoppe, on the other hand, sees a world in which insurance companies provide defense. After all, they have the most to lose with the loss of life and destruction of property. Without the mirage of collective security, individuals would have incentives to act in a peaceful, nonaggressive manner, allowing them to more easily be insurable.
This may sound complicated, but over time, insurance costs would fall and contracts would standardize. Hoppe writes, “Out of the steady cooperation between different insurers in mutual arbitration proceedings, a tendency toward the standardization and unification of the rules of procedure, evidence, and conflict resolution… and steadily increasing legal certainty would result.”
Because everyone would have protective insurance, they “would be tied into a global competitive enterprise of striving to minimize aggression (and thus maximize defensive protection), and every single conflict and damage claim, regardless of where and by or against whom, would fall into the jurisdiction of exactly one or more enumerable and specific insurance agencies and their mutually defined arbitration procedures.”
Something as important as life and death can’t be left to the whims of government officials that prioritize assets for political considerations. It’s a miracle the three women abducted and imprisoned by Ariel Castro survived. And while the state may get its pound of flesh from Castro, there will be no restitution to the victims.
It’s time to allow the miracle of the marketplace to keep citizens safe and sound. Until then, the state remains Mr. Castro’s accomplice while it imprisons thousands for victimless crimes.