Americanly Yours

Promoting Free Markets, Free Trade, and Freedom!

Just Doing Their Job?

July 03, 2011 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

Originally published on  Please feel free to comment here or there.

One of the arguments often used to defend poorly behaving police is the claim that they are “just doing their jobs.” This is such an absurdly silly argument that I am surprised that ANYONE takes it seriously.

I will not spend much time addressing the typical response to this most typical of arguments.  This response is the claim that the Nazi’s were also just doing their jobs too when they participated in the mass slaughter of innocents.  Yes, this argument is 100% true, but it hardly seems relevant in the America of today.  Furthermore, using arguments like this may lead us to fail in our attempts to convince others to fight against the arbitrary use and abuse of police power.

Agents of the Gestapo and the SS were indeed following orders when they committed their atrocities, however in many cases, they were forced under threats of violence or death to carry out these acts.  Often times people killed innocent people to prevent from being killed.  This does not in any way excuse these people or these acts, but it does provide us with some kind explanation for why some of these men participated in evil acts.

In America, the situation is different.  Yes, the United States government continually uses force and coercion against its subjects in order to get us to act according to their desires, but America is still a voluntary society in one important manner.  In America, people are not forced to accept jobs that they do not voluntarily choose to take.  This does not mean that we are all employed in jobs that are our first choices, and it does not mean that government acts of coercion have not prevented us from starting new businesses or being employed in the field of our choice.  However, there is no longer a military draft in America and we are still free to reject offers of employment for any reason whatsoever.

This is the key fact which makes the argument that police are “just following orders” or “just doing their job” so absurd.  The police officer who arrests kidnaps a person and throws them into a prison cage with rapists and murderers  for the “crime” of growing a plant marijuana is indeed following orders from his commanders when he makes said arrest.  However, no one forced the officer to become an officer.  He did not have to choose a career which he knew would lead him to cage humans for participating in victimless activities.  Most importantly, he does not fear that his superiors will hurt or kill him if he does not commit acts of violence against civilians.  We should have no sympathy for the officer who is ridiculed when he body slams a manwho is doing nothing but silently and calmly dancing in protest at the Jefferson Memorial, and we certainly should not defend him by arguing thaty he was just doing his job by enforcing the “law.”

In America, we have the right to refuse to be employed by a certain employer if we do not like the tasks that this employer asks us to undertake.  This right is not a secret; every one knows this.  No one is pointing a gun at police officers telling them they have to do things that they do not want to do–in fact, it is usually the police officer pointing a gun at an innocent person and forcing him or her to do things they do not want to do. It says a lot about a person’s character if that person willingly seeks out a job that will lead him to use violence and threats against peaceful people.

Next time someone gets righteous with you and informs you that some police officer was “just doing his job” when he used undue force to subdue a harmless individual, remind this person that the officer chose this job and if he truly did not want to be harming people, he is free to quit at any time.

A Solution

One of the big problems with coercive monopolies is that the providers of protection (police) do not have to answer to their customers. Costs go up, quality of customer service goes down. A tendency towards reducing crime statistics and increasing arrests arises. The problem today with police initiating force is only one of many symptoms of the larger problem: coercive government monopoly of services.

It is perfectly normal for people to aspire to go into the business of protection. People that put themselves in harms way to protect and defend should be praised and compensated accordingly.  However, there is no reason why this service cannot be provided privately and funded on voluntarily. In such a system, people who commit so-called “victimless crimes” would no longer be targets for arrest.  Furthermore, officers who abused their powers would be held liable for any harm that they have done.

To quote John Hasnas (page 35):

“If a visitor from Mars were asked to identify the least effective method for securing individuals’ persons and property, he might well respond that it would be to select one group ofpeople, give them guns, require all members of society to pay them regardless of the quality ofservice they render, and invest them with the discretion to employ resources and determine lawenforcement priorities however they see fit subject only to the whims of their political paymasters. If asked why he thought that, he might simply point to the Los Angeles or New Orleans or anyother big city police department. Are government police really necessary for a peaceful, securesociety? Look around. Could a non-political, non-monopolistic system of supplying policeservices really do worse than its government-supplied counterpart?”


Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

Quotes From Dr. Thomas Sowell

March 09, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

I have written about Dr. Thomas Sowell here before.  I think he is possibly the smartest man in the country.  I scoured the interweb and found a bunch of great quotes from him.  Enjoy.

“People who talk incessantly about “change” are often dogmatically set in their ways.  They want to change other people.”

“Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.  In area after area – crime, education, housing, race relations – the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation.  The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.”

“One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.”

“The next time some academics tell you how important ‘diversity’ is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.”

“The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it.  The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

“Prices are important not because money is considered paramount but because prices are a fast and effective conveyor of information through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated.”

“A recently reprinted memoir by Frederick Douglass has footnotes explaining what words like ‘arraigned,’ ‘curried’ and ‘exculpate’ meant, and explaining who Job was.   In other words, this man who was born a slave and never went to school educated himself to the point where his words now have to be explained to today’s expensively under-educated generation.”

“No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: “But what would you replace it with?”  When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?”

Capitalism knows only one color: that color is green; all else is necessarily subservient to it, hence, race, gender and ethnicity cannot be considered within it.

“Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”

“If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism.”

“If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”

“It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.”

“Liberals seem to assume that, if you don’t believe in their particular political solutions, then you don’t really care about the people that they claim to want to help.”

“Mistakes can be corrected by those who pay attention to facts but dogmatism will not be corrected by those who are wedded to a vision.”

“Mystical references to society and its programs to help may warm the hearts of the gullible but what it really means is putting more power in the hands of bureaucrats.”

“Prices are important not because money is considered paramount but because prices are a fast and effective conveyor of information through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated.”

“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

“Tariffs that save jobs in the steel industry mean higher steel prices, which in turn means fewer sales of American steel products around the world and losses of far more jobs than are saved.”

“The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.”

“The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work.   Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.”

“The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising spending.”

“Too much of what is called “education” is little more than an expensive isolation from reality.”

“What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.”

“Would you bet your paycheck on a weather forecast for tomorrow?  If not, then why should this country bet billions on global warming predictions that have even less foundation?”

“The assumption that spending more of the taxpayer’s money will make things better has survived all kinds of evidence that it has made things worse.   The black family- which survived slavery, discrimination, poverty, wars and depressions- began to come apart as the federal government moved in with its well-financed programs to “help.””

“Most people who read “The Communist Manifesto” probably have no idea that it was written by a couple of young men who had never worked a day in their lives, and who nevertheless spoke boldly in the name of “the workers”.”

“Despite a voluminous and often fervent literature on “income distribution,” the cold fact is that most income is not distributed: It is earned.”

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” [bureaucrats]

What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don’t like something to saying that the government should forbid it.  When you go down that road, don’t expect freedom to survive very long.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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