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Friday, February 25, 2005

If There Were No State...

My friend Tim Swanson alerted me to to a commentary on my mugging post in which the author declares, amongst other things:

"I was a bit surprised that Callahan said 'the state did nothing to either prevent or redress the attack'. While it may be true that the State was not able to prevent this attack or even capture the culprits, the presence of a police force certainly decreases the number of attacks on whole. There would be more muggings if the police did not exist, and that doesn't necessarily mean that they are the most efficient protection service either."

Skarbek's comment is odd in a number of ways. First of all, I didn't say, "The state has never prevented any attack on me" -- I said it did nothing to prevent that attack on me. Secondly, if the state police are not the most the efficient protection force, then their monopolization of protection services, effectively shutting out other, more effective private protection services, will obviously increase, not decrease, the number of attacks. Skarbek may mean that there are fewer muggings than if there were no government police and no other protection service took their place, but so what?

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