Re: law enforcement for profit

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Sun May 21 2000 - 16:44:12 MDT

Spike Jones wrote:
> > Spike Jones wrote:
> > >
> > > Suicide rate is higher in societies with greater surveillance and repression,
> > > but what about societies with greater surveillance and *less* repression?
> >
> > Michael S. Lorrey wrote: no such animal.
> So lets evolve one.
> Everyone on all sides of the transparency debate will agree: if we
> fail to compensate downward the authority of government as
> surveillance becomes easier and cheaper, then we are all...
> [what is the technical term I am serching for here? Oh yes:]
> ...fucked.


> One angle I thought of that would make today different from
> previous u. surv. societies: in the past, the surveillors were humans
> hired to do a job. They became overzealous in their
> prosecution because that was their perceived job. Kinda like
> traffic cops having an unspoken quota of speeding tickets they
> must write. Or they were just the kind of people who liked to
> kick asses for no good reason. So they did.
> As cameras multiply, we need fewer enforcers, consequently
> the few would use their limited resources in solving those crimes
> that which really pull in the profit: robbery, rape, murder, etc.
> We may begin to see the government more as a business than
> as the traditional big brother figure.
> With big business we have the collective option of just saying
> no, or just saying less. And we MUST exercise that option.

That is the problem. Lets say a community sets up a surveillance net,
even a competetive one, where every stoplight, every intersection, every
public area has cameras where private businesses can bid to maintain and
use them to enforce whatever laws the community wants to contract them
to enforce. How is the business to make money? Why, they make the most
money by writing the most citations. You'll have businesses bidding so
high that they have to write tons of citations in order to recoupe the
investment. Putting a profit incentive on law enforcement is as bad as
giving policemen ticket quotas.

I'd rather see it become a non-profit decentralized volunteer effort, a
sort of digital neighborhood watch. Another thind I'd like to see in
situations where citations are being written that there be first a
warning written, so the offender understands that they actually broke
the law, and giving them the benefit of the doubt so that they can be
more careful in the future. Consequent citations on the same person
should ramp up in amount each time to some top level, which would also
give us the added benefit of analysing what fine level is truly a useful
deterrent level and what is merely punitive.

> Please allow me to develop this a little further. What if we
> gradually turned law enforcement over to private industry?
> Let us start with that area of law that every one of us violates
> routinely, traffic law. {Except of course the short list of non-
> drivers here, Damien Broderick, John Grigg, Eliezer, et. al.}

Yup, put the jaywalking cops on them...

> We speed. We blow an occasional stop signs, we burn and
> occasional red light. We do other minor naughties in our cars,
> do we not? We seldom if ever get caught.

And we demonstrate that the conditions under which we do so are not
conditions which put others at risk. Conditions of no risk should follow
the no harm, no foul rule.

> What if our cars were instrumented to determine and log
> speed, km driven, traffic conditions, etc. Then instead of
> paying an occasional traffic fine, our driving safety would
> be determined by an insurance company, who would presumably
> take into account intangeable factors, such as the fact that
> there was no one about when you blew the red light, etc.
> Then the company determines your insurance rate depending
> on the number of close calls you caused, your speed, your
> general tendency toward or away from traffic anarchy, etc.
> Then if you dont like their offered rates, you are free to go
> purchase insurance from one of their competitors. Everything
> would be strictly free enterprise, with the exception of one law
> that each driver would need to carry at least 100k in liability,
> not so different from what we have now.

That is a really good idea. So long as we had true competition in the
insurance industry. When they do all their calculations off the same
tables, and every insurance company is re-insured by the same
reinsurance syndicate, where do you get lower rates?

> Any takers? Im a taker. In the long run we would all
> benefit from such a system. Of course we lose Queene's
> desire to feel the satisfaction of having gotten away with
> something. I dont know what to say to that. We wouldnt
> get away with *anything* however the penalty for infraction
> would not be large. The occasional spirited jaunt to 150 kph
> on a deserted highway might cost you an extra 50 cents next
> time you renew your insurance for instance. Any absent-
> minded talking-on-the-damned-cell-phone-induced near
> accident might cost you 50 to 100 bucks however. And
> of course your bill would be roughly proportional to the number
> of km driven.

here's an example: Once, several years ago, for about 6 months, I drove
around with no license. It wasn't suspended or anything, I was on the
west coast, I had a NH license, and I had not had a chance to get back
to NH to renew my license before it expired, and I didn't want to get a
drivers license from a state on the west coast, as insurance on the west
coast is much higher than it was in NH, and for tax reasons as well.....
During this time, I drove much more carefully than I had prior to that
time, since I didn't want to get in an accident or get stopped, as I
could NOT afford to get busted for that at the time. I drove at the
speed limit, I used my turn signals, I came to a stop at all stop signs
and traffic lights. I was one GOOD little boy, and I got away with it.
That period pretty much cured me of my previous driving habits of going
as fast as I could get away with, not using turn signals, etc. I used to
get speeding tickets every 6 months or so. Since then, I've had one.
One, in 7 years (and that was a fluke anyways....<g>).

> But this is only one example. In the long run I could imagine
> where nearly all police work could be turned over to private
> enterprise. Then government would then have potential
> competitors, thus breaking a long-standing power monopoly
> and the associated corruption and inefficiency.

What I would not mind seeing is to remove the monopoly power that police
have over traffic tickets. Under the law, its the only part of the law
that average citizens cannot press charges over or arrest or cite people
for. I would set the standard of evidence for average citizens writing
such citations to require video and other sensory data (radar, lidar,
etc), and give the reporting citizens a percentage of the fine to be
applied to their insurance and licensing /registration fees. That way,
the evidence submitted only corroborates what they witness themselves
(thus violations that occur without any other traffic present are still
unenforceable). Capping what they can make will limit the enthusiasm
with which they will engage in law enforcement, but will result in a
large roving population of law enforcers at any given time.

What do you think?

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