I appreciate how loath you must be to read articles addressed like this. They constantly address you as if you were stupid, crazy, and/or hateful. They usually claim that you don’t know what’s good for you and invariably assert that you’re a racist—one who isn’t even smart enough to realize it. If the insults aren’t explicit, they’re cloaked in condescension.
As a Jewish writer from Brooklyn with an asymmetric haircut, I understand why you’re probably not very receptive to what I have to say. But I know that you’re far more open-minded than my neighbors suspect you are, so I ask that you hear me out.
As a conservative you see what’s happening to our country and our culture, and you’re mortified. You’re told that Islam is a religion of peace while Christianity is a screed of hate. The liberal media tells you that the Westboro Baptist Church represents everyone who follows the Bible, but ISIS represents no one who follows the Koran. A woman who marries another woman is a hero, while a woman who chooses to raise her children at home is an embarrassment. Worst of all, following the law is regarded as such a joke that even the president can’t be bothered to do it anymore.
Because of all this, you thank God every day for the police. You think the police are the main thing standing between us and the collapse of our civilization. You see the footage of rioting, of buildings being burned down, and then you have to hear that it is you who are to blame. You’re naturally afraid of fire and want to protect your children, and yet you’re informed that such fears and wants are irrelevant and even wrong. It’s supposed to be a good thing that you’re scared, because you allegedly want oppression and now you’re learning what oppression feels like.
All this you find absurd. You know perfectly well that you don’t want oppression. And you freely admit that there are bad cops. But by and large, you regard the police as good people doing a tough, thankless job. You think that the police need our support, not our attacks. At the very least, you think it’s absolutely insane to side with people whose policies will only lead to more rioting and anarchy.
It might be true that liberals always give the wrong answer to every problem. Yet that doesn’t imply that these problems don’t exist. Sometimes those people you despise, disdain, and disagree with are saying the right thing—even if they don’t know it themselves. So when I say that you should oppose the police, I say so precisely because of your principles, not theirs. If I could sum up why in one sentence, it would be this: You should oppose socialized law for the same reasons that you oppose socialized medicine.
One of the things that drives you crazy about liberals is their insistence that things wouldn’t exist but for the government. This is something that is demonstrably untrue. Would there be TV shows without PBS? Would radio exist without NPR? Of course they would. Conservatives love to mention the inconvenient truth that it was Rush Limbaugh—and not NPR—that rescued the medium. The same principle applies to the police.
The police provide a very necessary service: security. But what necessary service is the government good at providing? You’ve seen our kids get dumber and dumber despite ever-increasing money being spent on education. In fact, what unnecessary service is the government good at providing? The UPS and FedEx provided free package tracking for years before the post office did. They weren’t forced to do so because of the law. It was the post office that had no other option, due to competition from private companies.
As a conservative, you remember how Sarah Palin was mocked for finding “death panels” in Obamacare—only to later have that grudgingly proven to be true. When government gets involved in crucial services, people end up dying. Can you imagine what would happen to emergency medical care if the government ran the ambulances? There’s no reason why emergency security should be any different. You are being fed a false alternative. The choice isn’t between the police or chaos. The choice is between government chaos or private order.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Go have a dispute with a restaurant. If you don’t like the food, you can send it back. Go have a dispute with a department store. You can return that shirt you bought, crumpled and stained, for a refund—or at the very least, store credit. You don’t have to have a reason or even a receipt. The process is quick, efficient, and stacked in your favor. It is orderly and simple. Now try to have a dispute where the police are involved—or, God help you, with the police themselves. Is it even conceivable that the whole process won’t be a headache, with no guarantee whatsoever of an equitable resolution?
The police are unionized. As a conservative, you realize what that means: protecting bad employees from facing consequences. When unions run education, for example, you get Common Core. But with incompetent police, the consequences are far more dire. It means innocent people get harassed and guilty people get killed. Do you want all crimes punished by public death, like the communists loved to do? Is it really a good thing for, say, a shoplifter to be shot in the street? Forget the criminal himself—I’m not asking conservatives to sympathize with lawbreakers! But what about the children who see someone shot in their own neighborhood? How can that be anything other than traumatic for them?
Look at TV shows where someone gets burglarized. Even in those imaginary scenarios, having the police recovering a character’s property—of providing their service as promised—is never shown. Having the police render you whole is impossible to portray even in fiction. Now look at eBay, where everyone automatically has free-of-charge fraud protection, keeping you safe from people you’ve never met or seen.
A trip to a dark movie theater is fun for the family, while a trip to a dark alley stokes fear for everyone. A bar full of drunks and a hotel full of strangers is still infinitely safer than a nighttime city street or a train car. In other words, the most dangerous areas are precisely the ones under police protection, while the safest ones are precisely the ones under private management. This is what government security means.
Yes, you may want the police to crack down on “bad” areas. But as a conservative you also understand that government programs always spill over in the same way that “tax hikes on the rich” end up hurting you. Soon it will be your areas facing a crackdown.
It doesn’t need to be this way.
A lessening of police services would allow for more licensed private security officers everywhere. If people found that too disquieting—as a large police presence certainly is—then such employees could work undercover. They could be limited to keeping the peace instead of enforcing stupid tax laws that only help the government at the expense of the poor and marginalized. Neighbors and storekeepers could be hired to act as part-time lookouts. Security doesn’t need to be tied to geography any more than phones do. You can subscribe to a service and have it follow you wherever you go. It’s practically the same transition as the one from landline to cell phone.
Different individuals, organizations and communities could have various overlapping measures of security. How many types of detergent are there? There’s no reason why security couldn’t work the same way. There’s no limit to the possible market solutions—except for the government as it currently stands.
Yes, there are obvious criticisms to this approach. One thing conservatives will resent is that the poor would probably get security for free or for a highly subsidized cost. As a conservative you might find this unfair that some aren’t pulling their so-called weight. But “fairness” should be the concern of liberals, not yours. Your main issue is keeping everyone safe. Cell phones are cheap enough that charities can afford to hand out “Obamaphones” to the homeless. Providing additional security to the poor would cost far less than whatever the government now spends on police unions.
But what happens if you’re a subscriber to Security Company A and have an argument with someone subscribed to Security Company B? Look at the actual data. I have no idea what happens, technically, when a Verizon caller dials a Sprint customer. I have no idea because I don’t need to have an idea. People who know what they’re talking about—not those people marching on TV that you abhor—figured the matter out. It was such an obvious concern that the companies solved it before anyone even became aware of it. The same goes for ambulances coordinating with hospitals or credit cards negotiating with every type of business imaginable. In all these cases, the market anticipated the problem and coordinated a solution. Security is the same thing.
As a conservative you intuitively understand that markets stand for peace and order, while government and politicians thrive on strife and conflict. It’s no coincidence that Calvin Coolidge gained national prominence by taking on the police unions. The liberals get enough of your tax money as it is. Don’t let them take this issue away from you, too.