Thursday, May 7, 2009

Government Without Taxation: The Police And Military

The Police
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 1,022,000 security guards working in the United States in 2003. This is about the same as the number of police. Americans spend approximately $60 billion per year on security alarms, security guards, and other security services. Clearly, Americans are voluntarily willing to spend money in order to protect their property and persons. And this money is spent in addition to the taxes paid for the provision of police. These are private, voluntary payments for the express purpose of protecting the rights of individuals and businesses.

In addition to these direct expenditures for security, many individuals and businesses also contribute money to support police departments. For example, the 100 Club in Houston raises money to support police officers and to provide financial assistance to the families of officers killed in the line of duty. Since 1953 the 100 Club of Houston has spent more than $28 million on special equipment, financial aid, and other disbursements to police officers and their families. Other 100 Clubs in Arizona, Buffalo, San Antonio, Minnesota, California, Maryland, and more than one-hundred communities across the nation have raised millions of dollars to support police officers, firefighters, and their families during times of tragedy.

Private, non-profit foundations in exist in more than two dozen American cities for the purpose of raising funds to support local police departments. The Houston Police Foundation (HPF) was founded in 2005 and raised more than $1 million in its first year. It uses donations by individuals and businesses to “fund special programs, officer safety, training, equipment, and new technology -- none of which would be feasible under the City budget.”[1] The New York City Police Foundation was established in 1971 to “to strengthen the services of the New York City Police Department and to improve public safety in New York City.”[2] The organization has invested more than $81 million in projects for the police department. The Los Angeles Police Foundation has awarded ore than $3 million in grants to that city’s police department.

In Huntington, West Virginia individuals and businesses donated almost $200,000 to the police department for the purchase of motorcycles, police dogs, and other equipment.[3] In Milwaukee private donations in one neighborhood raised $176,000 to help the police pay for overtime and street cameras, which resulted in a 4% decline in crime in that neighborhood.[4]

These examples, and many like them, demonstrate that individuals do voluntarily pay for police protection. These contributions by citizens allow the police to purchase equipment, pay for overtime, and provide greater protection to a community.

In a free society, in which crimes are properly defined as acts of force, the laws enforced by the police would be substantially reduced. Voluntary actions such as prostitution and drugs would be legal, and the police would not be spending precious resources monitoring the voluntary actions of adults. This would significantly reduce the money and time required to enforce the law.

The Military
Just as it is a value to be protected from domestic criminals, it is a value to be protected from foreign threats. If a street thug is a threat to lives and property of individuals, terrorists and other enemies of America are equal threats. And just as Americans voluntarily pay to support the police, they also voluntarily pay to support the military.

Perhaps the best known organization providing support for American troops is the United Services Organization (USO). Founded during World War II, the USO provides “care packages”, phone cards, and entertainment for American troops stationed abroad. Charities such as the Fisher House Foundation, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and National Military Family Association raise millions of dollars to provide equipment, financial aid, education, and other assistance to soldiers and their families. Many businesses have donated equipment to troops stationed overseas. For example, efi Sports Medicine, a San Diego-based exercise equipment manufacturer, donated more than 150 of its Total Gym machines to troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A rational foreign policy would significantly reduce the military budget. While military strategy might dictate the need for American soldiers to be stationed in other nations, our military would not shoulder the entire burden of defending other nations. Nor would it be used for “peace keeping”, food distribution, or nation building. It would be used to kill and destroy enemies of America.

Endnotes
[1] http://www.houstonpolicefoundation.com/about/

[2] http://www.nycpolicefoundation.org/about.asp

[3] http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/x59589381/Community-donations-help-police-stay-afloat

[4] http://www.poe-news.com/stories.php?poeurlid=78554

Updated on April 8, 2010 with links to all of the posts in this series:
Government Without Taxation: Introduction
Government Without Taxation: The Size of Government

Government Without Taxation:  The Police and Military

Government Without Taxation: The Courts

Government Without Taxation:  Other Revenue Sources

Government Without Taxation: Final Thoughts

2 comments:

Mike N said...

Excellent post Brian! you effectively prove how Americans are more than willing to pay for the legitimate functions of government. If this were spelled out clearly to citizens, I think they would be much less willing to support green police, fat police, eco-police, speech police, thought police and wellness police than they do presently.

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