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Social Chaos—Part III

In the second part of this series, I showed how the order imposed on society by coercive laws is the order of death and destruction. Most who understand the nature of government will agree that those laws that are clearly "social engineering" or that intrude on a free market are destructive, but will nevertheless insist some laws are necessary.

What About Criminal Law?

Certainly there must be laws against murder, rape, assault, theft, and vandalism. Even the most libertarian of Libertarians supports those kinds of laws because they all prohibit the initiation of force. Without those laws a society would truly be chaotic. Wouldn't it?

So let me ask a question of anyone who believes that. If, tomorrow, all the laws against murder, rape, theft, assault, and vandalism were repealed, would you begin murdering, raping, stealing, assaulting people, and destroying their property? Of course you wouldn't because you don't want to do any of those things. If you think of all your good friends, they don't want to either—in fact, most people don't want to. We don't need those laws at all because we aren't going to do any of those things anyway.

But there are some people who will do those things. We know that because they do. Every day there are people murdering, raping, stealing, assaulting people and destroying their property, even though all those things are against the law. Obviously the laws are not preventing anyone from doing those things.

The purpose of criminal law is to prevent crime, which it doesn't do. But there are consequences of criminal law that are worse than the crimes committed by the criminals they fail to control.

Law Enforcement

Laws are not principles, not suggestions or advice, they are rules which must be complied with, and that compliance is implemented by force. The threat of force against one's person or property is the means by which compliance with the law is enforced.

The agencies of government which are responsible for administering force are called, apply enough, law enforcement. In those countries where law is extensive, those agencies grow to enormous size, are hugely expensive, and very dangerous. Law enforcement agencies exist for only one purpose, the use of force against a country's citizens to ensure their compliance with the law.

Enforcement Costs More Than Crime

The very name and purpose of law enforcement is a lie, however. Law enforcement does not force anyone to comply with the law. It does not even pretend to. Neither the law or law enforcement prevent crime. With rare exception, all law enforcement can do is attempt to apprehend those who have broken the law after they have broken it. In those cases where criminals are apprehended, if the criminals are found guilty of their crime, the criminal justice solution is, "punishment," which usually means incarceration.

Since the supposed purpose of criminal law is to prevent citizens from being victimized by thugs and thieves, we have the obscene spectacle of the potential victims having their wealth extorted from them to house the criminals they are not protected from. The amount of money extorted by the government for this, "protection," is many more times the amount stolen by the crooks.

The cost of incarceration nationally in the U.S. is estimated at $26.8 billion annually. In fiscal 2001 Federal, State, and local governments spent over $167 billion for police protection, corrections and judicial and legal activities. That's a whopping $193.8 billion a year to protect us from criminals.

Of the 14 million completed thefts of property in 2003, there were 4.2 million property thefts of less than $50, 4.8 million between $50 and $249, and 3.4 million of $250 or more. If all 14 million thefts of property were $500, the total loss of value to theft would be $7 billion a year. It costs more than 34 times that to "protect" us from crime, and the protection is not working. A relative small number of Americans are victims of crime, but all Americans are victims of the extortion that pays for law enforcement.

In my article, "Maggots—Part II," I pointed out that, of the over 2 million people in American jails, the majority are there for victimless crimes, like drug possession. Since, "property crime makes up about three-quarters of all crime in the United States," and most convicts are convicted of non-violent crimes, and most violent crimes are committed by relatives or "friends" of the victims, the odds of being a victim of assault or other violence by criminals is minuscule. This in no way minimizes the evil of violent crime, especially the crimes of rape, assault, and murder, and victims of such crimes there is nothing "minuscule" about it.. But for innocent citizens, going about the business of life minding their own business, there is much more danger of being brutalized by "law enforcement" than by criminals.

Victims of Law Enforcement

In his 1997 article, "Police Brutality: A License to Maul," James Bovard documented the already rampant violence and brutality that dominated law enforcement then. Today, the biggest threat of violence and brutality to the average citizen is from law enforcement.

The agents of law enforcement are not only sanctioned to use force, it is their business. Law enforcement consist of a huge army of individuals with a legal right to initiate force, which they are expected to use. It is inevitable that individuals who become accustomed to brutality, who know that they will always receive the benefit of the doubt, and usually have their misconduct covered up, will become the worst of thugs.

The odds that you will be assaulted by criminals in your own house are infinitesimal, but assaults by police of innocent victims in their own house are becoming epidemic, such as those in this Claire Wolfe story, "Five Die in Wrong House Raid<." [The link is sadly no longer available.]

Statistics on violence and brutality by criminals are provided by the DOJ, but statistics on violence and brutality by law enforcement are non-existent. It would certainly be difficult to compile them, since most of law-enforcement abuse is covered up, but it is so rampant it cannot be hidden. Anyone who wants to open there eyes and look will see, the real threat to their person and property today is not from criminals, but from law-enforcement. Have a look for yourself, here, here, and here. There are countless specific examples such as this.

—(06/23/05)