Re: A modest proposal (eas Re: Outlawing drug speech - EEK!)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2000 - 08:43:06 MST

On Thursday, February 03, 2000 1:52 PM Billy Brown
> > You are absolutely right. What was I thinking? The police force and
> > prosecutors would not arrest and prosecute one of their own! That is
> > exactly why the system failed.
> An alternative solution: create a second police system with no power to
> investigate or arrest private citizens, and charge it with investigate the
> criminal activities of public officials and the regular police force.
> gives you a special interest that actually benefits from prosecuting these
> kinds of offenses, instead of trying to cover them up.
> Of course, then you have to worry about abuses by this new police force,
> cops and public officials are in a much better position to defend
> against corrupt prosecutors than an ordinary citizen.

Though your proposal has merit, the police forces in the US already have
internal affairs divisions which are supposed to do just that. It also
sounds a lot like what happens in dictatorships where new groups are created
to watch over old one loyal to the dictator. (Think of the SS as Hitler's
means of keeping control over the Stormtroopers (SA).) One wonders where
this stops.

Still, the idea is not totally ludicrist. One problem I do see is that of
regulatory capture. A lot of regulatory agencies -- and Billy's "second
police system" is this with guns (some nonpolice government agencies also
carry guns, such as park rangers) -- become captured by what they regulate.
While the second police force would have a vested interest in
arresting/prosecuting cops, the first police force would have an interest in
making sure it controlled or came into a symbiotic relationship with the
second one. This is why big drug companies have so much sway over the FDA,
why defense contractors control the Pentagon, why teachers have the biggest
say in school board elections (which are notably held separate from regular
elections), and why beauty school owners often sit on the beautician's
boards in their areas.

The regulated have a greater interest than the general public in currying
favor from the regulators. See, e.g., _The Rule of Experts_ by S. David
Young details this process in various licensed industries in the US. (The
same applies elsewhere. Look at the Olympic bribery scandal, which is
merely a recent, high profile instance.)

One could have a citizen review board instead, though such things usually
become very political -- as has happened in NYC, USA. The citizen review
board there has basically become a way for the Mayor and his critics to do
battle -- as opposed to it professed mission.

I think, however, the best solutions to this "who watches the watchers"
problem are 1) to reduce the overall power of government so that the chances
for corrupt or wrong behavior are lower (if cops are not allowed, e.g., to
search motor vehicles or people's person with a warrant, then less people
will be harassed by cops fishing for evidence) and 2) to spread the ideals
of a free and rational culture so that the people don't tolerate
governmental abuses of power (a daunting task, but this is the sort of
culture -- in a diluted form -- that gave us the Bill of Rights and its

Daniel Ust
    Learn how tar water's molecular structure prevented Y2K from becoming a
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