|Who needs government? Voluntarism works!|
Residents in Josephine County Oregon have taken matters into their own hands, in light of recent police department budget cuts and started their own community protection services to pick up the slack. The population is small, but there is still a lot of ground to cover, the county is larger than the state of Rhode Island.
According to the Associated Press:
Josephine County, population about 83,000, recently lost $12 million in federal timber county subsidies. The jail, sheriff’s patrols, prosecutors, probation officers and juvenile programs have all been drastically cut. The lockup has room for 69 inmates — only enough space for the worst offenders. As a result, theft and burglary suspects are regularly turned loose, only to be picked up later for new crimes.
To fill the void that was left behind from the county’s incompetent police department a retired marina manager named Sam Nichols has organized a volunteer protection service called CAC Patrol, or Citizens Against Crime. The organization consists of about a dozen fed-up residents who started out by patrolling the small community of O’Brien, which has about 750 residents, and then they expanded into surrounding areas.
Separately, a retired sheriff’s deputy in a community about 10 miles away has started a Facebook page called “to catch a thief”, an open group that has nearly 1,200 members who post reports of crimes that aren’t priorities for the county sheriff’s office.
Since the patrols started a few months ago, group members have reported a wildfire being set and someone trying to break into an SUV. The police log in the Grants Pass Daily Courier shows five thefts or burglaries in O’Brien from January through July, but none since August. Many people in the community have said that they prefer things this way and don’t think that the police would do a better job, even with more resources.
Unfortunately, these community protection groups are still working within the framework of state and federal law in one way or another, sometimes even enforcing unjust laws where there is no victim, so it is true that these groups are far from perfect. However, regardless of the specifics, this situation shows us that it is possible for people to stand up and protect their own communities without an all powerful state gang totally monopolizing such a vital public service.
It is a commonly known economic fact that monopolies make for high prices and low quality, since a monopoly is guaranteed payment regardless of service quality, as they are the only show in town. Yet we allow massive coercive monopolies to manage the most vital aspects of our society and our personal lives. Opening up these vital areas to competition by allowing members of the community to provide these services voluntarily would naturally encourage the kind of behavior that the community demanded.
As I have wrote about before, monopolies encourage nefarious behavior, especially when that monopoly is given a license to use violence on others without consequence. This is the problem with the TSA and this is also why we see such authoritarian attitudes from police across the country as well. If the police in your district are corrupt, it’s not like you can stop patronizing them and search for another security provider. However, in areas that the police completely neglect, citizens are able to take matters into their own hands and provide security for their community.
This phenomena is not specific to this particular situation in rural Oregon, it has happened to a great degree in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities, Detroit. In Detroit the cops are absolutely worthless and corrupt, so the community fully understands that they cannot be counted on for protection. To counter this problem, citizens have created their own security companies who are actually concerned with making the community safer, instead of just generating revenue. Sure they are still making a profit, but they are making a profit by providing a need in the community and receiving voluntary payments, not through extortion and exploiting nonviolent “law breakers”.
The bottom line is, everything that a bureaucracy does can be done far better and cheaper by people who are dependent upon community support for their economic survival. Additionally, as we see in Oregon, volunteers can fill this role just as well as entrepreneurs, setting aside worries that the poor wouldn’t have access to security in the absence of top-down law enforcement.
J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance and host of a show called Voluntary Hippie Radio. He is also an artist with an established record label and event promotion company that hosts politically charged electronic dance music events. You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website www.aotmr.com.