If there were no government police, protection services would be provided like any other. Yesterday, Tom Woods posted this video on the LRC blog. Decades of corruption and ineptitude in the Detroit Police Department, along with the failures endemic to a government-monopolized service, meant residents were desperate for protection services. So in 1995 Dale Brown founded the Threat Management Center.
Some of the highlights from the video are:
- They emphasize non-violent dispute resolution when called to a scene. To this end they rarely hire veterans, who have been trained to respond with violence. Contrast this with your local police department, who’s members frequently employ excessive force. That government police agencies routinely hire returning veterans partly explains this.
- Brown boasts that in the firm’s 18-year history not a single client has died at the hands of one of his agents. Again, contrast this with the record of most government police agencies. All too often, calling the police can be a deadly experience, even for those meant to be protected by the call.
- The company serves approximately one thousand clients from affluent Detroit suburbs, along with nearly five hundred from within the city’s impoverished neighborhoods. Brown explains that he’s able to provide his service free of charge to those who cannot afford to pay him because he earns enough from those who can.
This last point is particularly insightful because it may be applied to so many other issues. Consider health care services, private highways, or any other function now co-opted by the State. Issues of cost, particularly among progressives, are one reason many are skeptical that society could function without a coercive government. But as Brown has shown, cost isn’t really a factor, given the right environment.
Certainly altruism on his part would explain how this is possible, but other forces are at play here. Even someone less inclined to philanthropy would benefit from a similar business model. One of the first things that comes to mind is the marketing strategy involved. Offering free services is a great way of advertising, and word of mouth is great advertising.
But more importantly, perhaps, is the fact that most people don’t spend their entire lives in poverty. Even in this tightly regulated, centrally planned economy people manage to move through the various social strata. It’s entirely likely that many of those now enjoying complimentary service will one day be able to pay. Having already established a relationship with TMC, it’s difficult to imagine these people will suddenly abandon their services in search of a competing firm, assuming that Brown and his company are still able to maintain superior service at an affordable price.
Again, this same approach may just as easily be applied to the health care industry. Those wealthy enough would pay, while those who could not would still enjoy the same, or at least some, care. It’s also safe to assume that in an environment where more economic freedom is available, fewer people will find it difficult to pay for such essential services.