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Taxpayers Near Ferguson Must Turn to Private Security

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Those who own private property in suburbs near Ferguson must hire private security for protection. Malls, shopping centers, and other valuables will be protected with private money. A story linked on Drudge today noted that the wealthy suburb of Clayton includes many private firms turning to private security, but apparently, private firms are being called in throughout the metro area:

Securitas, a security firm that employs 1,600 private guards around St. Louis, says it contracted out the last of its personnel two weeks ago to protect malls, banks, pharmaceutical corporations, power plants, and other large businesses, some of which are based in Clayton. To meet the demand of anticipated violence, Securitas has been making new hires, according to Garrett Cizek, the firm’s local business-development manager.

Naturally, no taxpayer, if he can afford, it will rely on government police for “protection.”

If governments were honest with you, this is what they would say about police:

Dear Citizen, we are going to tax you heavily for a police force that will focus on extracting even more revenue from you, and will exist primarily to harass motorists and others who commit petty traffic infractions. All the while, we will claim we are putting our lives on the line to protect you. But of course, we will do little to recover your stolen property, investigate thieves or those who trespass or destroy property. If you're a small business owner who has ever had his shop broken into, you know this already. Yes, politics requires that we do investigate rapes and murders, but we’d rather not do that. Those criminals are dangerous! Let’s face it, the police force is a union shop, and is unaccountable to you, the tax payer. The police are mostly concerned with ensuring more and more government spending on huge pensions for police officers who will retire at age 45 and collect $80,000 or $90,000 per year as a retiree (see also here). All paid for by you.

You will also pay those police to issue you citations for jaywalking, opening unauthorized lemonade stands, or growing vegetables in your front yard. If you resist, we will shoot you.

Citizen, all this being said, you should know that in case any civil unrest or actual threat to your property, you’re on your own. The Supreme Court has ruled that we have no duty to protect you, and in case of any true conflagration, the police will protect the government’s property and nothing else. Smart people will hire private security for this. If you cannot afford private security, your lack of “protection” is your own fault for not wanting to pay higher taxes.

Have a nice day.

The story of modern policing is this: you’ll pay huge amounts of taxes for police who will do little for you in case of actual crime.

Business people know this, and those who can afford to, plan accordingly.

Moreover, the police are often incite the disturbances that they later claim are a reason for hiring more police and buying them new tanks and assault rifles.

The government of Ferguson, for example, is little more than a protection racket that exists to extract money from its citizens in the form of court penalties and fines. According to one recent report:

Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

As Alex Tubarrok, has noted, Ferguson, which has an about-average crime rate, has a police force far more dedicated to revenue extraction from poor people, than it is dedicated to protection of property:

You don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bulls**t arrests for jaywalking and constant “low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay."

It doesn’t take a whole lot of creativity to speculate that if the Ferguson police department were engaged in actual protection of property, instead of shooting people who act like Pat Buchanan circa 1959, the situation might be far less costly for private citizens in neighboring areas.

Unfortunately, this turn toward private security will not yet solve the problem. As using private security will not erase the monopoly power still enjoyed by police, so, in addition to paying twice for security, citizens will run into additional conflict between real security agents — i.e., those from the private sector — and the government “security” agents who provide the sort of quality one would expect from monopolist union labor. 

Image source.


Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is executive editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power and Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in public policy, finance, and international relations from the University of Colorado. He was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Breaking Away: The Case of Secession, Radical Decentralization, and Smaller Polities and Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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