Second look at Detroit?

Maybe the Democrats who've been pointing to Detroit lately as the poster child for libertarian principles are onto something, after all.  If so, there's hope even for Somalia.

In my old neighborhood in Houston, we all chipped in and bought private security to beef up our patrols.  It was entirely voluntary at $100/year--well within almost anyone's budget.  The ones who opted out were understood to be getting a free-rider benefit to some extent, but as long as they didn't mind forgoing perks like a special vacation watch, no one minded all that much.

Much more can be done privately that we often assume.


Grim said...


"Dale Brown and his organization, the Threat Management Center (TMC), have helped fill in the void left by the corrupt and incompetent city government. Brown started TMC in 1995 as a way to help his fellow Detroit citizens in the midst of a rise in home invasions and murders. While attempting to assist law enforcement, he found little but uninterested officers more concerned with extracting revenue through traffic tickets and terrorizing private homes with SWAT raids than protecting person and property.

"In an interview with, Brown explains how and why his private, free market policing organization has been so successful. The key to effective protection and security is love, says Brown, not weapons, violence, or law."

Now that's an interesting concept, especially since it's apparently worked for nearly 20 years.

douglas said...

Don't things like this generally work better in smaller social units? Isn't that why our founders had their skepticisms about urban societies?

Texan99 said...

My old neighborhood was unusual in that half of its territory overlapped with another voluntary civic association (one was based on a platted subdivision, the other on a voting precinct). It used to upset some of the residents in the overlap area terribly that they'd get solicitations from both civic clubs to pay dues. It seemed to me it was like getting solicitations from the Red Cross and the Salvation Army: you were free to donate to either, both, or neither. But to many of my neighbors, it was important to have a single authority in charge, even though the civic club wasn't really in charge of anything; it had a purely voluntary coordination function. The two clubs worked together to hire private cops for extra patrols.

It was a little confusing and ad hoc. I can see why it would be difficult to work out if we were ealing with the whole city, not just two small neighborhoods. On the other hand, the national model includes a lot of small local law enforcement agencies, with coordination only for those special crimes that span boundaries.

Grim said...

Well, if overlap is the problem, the government isn't the solution. Take Atlanta. Inside the city limits you are subject to arrest by:

1) The Atlanta Police,
2) Fulton County Police,
3) Fulton County Sheriff's Deputies (Yes, they have both, because the Sheriff is elected and the county commission wants a police force led by someone who reports to them and not the voters),
4) State Police,
5) The Georgia Bureau of Investigation,
6) Every Federal agency with policing functions,
7) Various other minor officials at every level with similar authorities,
8) Every citizen, who has arrest powers in the event of observing a felony.