Crime, the State and libertarianism: a personal experience and some ramblings

We recently got back from a lovely vacation to Hawaii (apparently not too many people are vacationing these days).  The vacation would have been perfect had our car been at home when we got home.  Instead it had been stolen.

We've been living in Seattle for about 14 months.  We moved here from DC and we are preparing to move back to DC in about a month.

While we were gone, someone pried open a window at the back of the house.  They piled up some of our backyard furniture.  They used an implement to keep the window open and crawled through.  Once in the house, they made their way to the front door, grabbed the car keys and helped themselves to our car.

They didn't take anything else from the house – we're assuming this means that they thought we were at home while they were in the house.

We're in the process of getting another dog, a security system and a couple of shotguns – it's very unsettling to get robbed.

The cops attitude to the crime was essentially: this happens all the time (I checked, it does), the car usually turns up in a week or two and either way, it's insured.

Apparently, in the US, it's become OK to take a car as long as the owner gets it back in a few days or gets paid for it.  They perps generally use the car to commit some other crimes and then leave it somewhere.  At that point, I guess, someone eventually reports an abandoned car.

As we've asked around, apparently the same thing has happened to a bunch of our friends.

I tried to call the police to see what was happening with the investigation.  After calling 6 numbers (!) I got someone at the impound lot, who informed me that my "car is still stolen."

After 4 more numbers, I got the office that investigates the crime.  No one answered the phone (of course) and the recording said not to call to ask about the status of the case.  I guess I'll never get the "evidence" they took from my house.

Libertarians have a strange attitude to crime – it's not even hard to find some who will claim that virtually all crime is committed by the State.  For example (from today), here's one who is defending someone who has been convicted of sexual battery – our libertarian doesn't even try to discern the facts of the case before defending said batterer (which is my point).  I've gotten closer to the reactionary view of late, from Mr Moldbug:

Libertarians: note that at present, your risk of having your human rights violated by a private actor is much greater than your risk of having your human rights violated by a state actor [I must interrupt here to point out that if said libertarians believe that taxes are a violation of human rights, this claim is not true, but I don't think this invalidates the rest of the post]. Which hurts more? A cop hitting you over the head with a club, or a mugger hitting you over the head with a club? In my mind, they hurt about the same. Thus, as a libertarian, my most serious complaint against the State is not any alleged abuses of the security forces, but its tolerance of widespread anarchy and disorder – by several orders of magnitude. . . .

Here are some random facts about the present California which, I feel, are violations of order. The major cities are full of racist paramilitary gangs. Large sections of them are unsafe at night. Other sections are unsafe by day. Millions of people are in California illegally. California has no secure list of the people who are authorized to reside there, nor does it know the addresses and occupations of its residents, nor does it have their biometric identities. If an unlocked bicycle is left on the street, it will be stolen. Many Californians are idle and not independently wealthy. Many schools approach the zoological. Graffiti is everywhere, as is garbage. Etc, etc. (You'll note that by the global standards of 2009, California is actually quite orderly.)

Mr Moldbug hits the nail on the head, the problem (and my current frustration) is that the police seem to be totally tolerant of this crime and the ensuing anarchy and disorder.

I've never really understood that hardcore libertarian arguments in favor of private security forces, but the idea seems a lot less crazy to me now.  The only parties that care about the fact that my car was stolen are: 1) me and my wife and 2) our insurance company.  Notably absent from the list is: the State.

Despite this, there are historical times in which this behavior was not tolerated by the State.

From this it's easier to see the confusion of libertarians.  They are correct that much police work is useless and mis-directed.  They are incorrect in suggesting that this means we shouldn't enforce laws or that we should be more lenient on criminals.  What we want is stronger, more effective police – once they achieve this goal, their actions will no longer seem random and mis-directed.  They can get smaller as they get more focused and effective.

Thanks for the opportunity to rant.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: