By Robert LeFevre
Society for Libertarian Life edition
Lecture at Santa Ana College on May 19, 1978
Introduction by Kenneth Grubbs, Jr.
Editorial editor of The Register in Orange County, CA
Describing one of his mentors, also one of our speaker’s mentors, William Buckley once told me that Frank Chodorov was pure as the driven snow. Buckley was speaking of Chodorov’s libertarianism, a philosophy so fiercely and exuberantly jealous of individual freedom that it refuses to be corrupted by politics, period, politics left or right, a philosophic feature which at once distresses and bemuses William Buckley. Chodorov’s generation of libertarians, and Robert LeFevre’s generation of libertarians, was almost forced by circumstances to be so pure. The days twenty and thirty years ago were black by freedom’s standards. Statism was fashionable and ever encircling.
It is said that Bob LeFevre, our link tonight with that generation, not only enunciated pure libertarianism but lived it as best he could, even to the extent when a fly bothered his table of placing a napkin in the insect’s path, gingerly to train it off the table, thence out of the way of human aggression. BobLeFevre was anti-SWAT even before the term was taken to mean certain police squads. That, ladies and gentlemen, is principle. Indeed a merry organization called Our People’s Underworld, which homes in on these oddities blindfolded, so wanted to pay homage to this extraordinary consistency that it included in its museum Bob LeFevre’s one and only telephone call to the sheriff, about which, if we’re lucky, he’ll reminisce.
If Frank Chodorov was, in Buckley’s words, pure as the driven snow, then Bob LeFevre must surely be a blizzard, a benign blizzard to be sure, a blizzard not of obfuscatory words and bureaucratic gobbledegook but of blinding clarity and unsurpassed illumination. Very likely you will learn more about the crucial issues of our times tonight than you would were you to spend a semester in political science, upper or lower level. We find ourselves gravitating to Bob LeFevre’s light, those of us who have had our flings and even those of us who are still tempted to have our wild nights in the current welter of politics. It must have something to do with LeFevre’s uncanny powers of synthesis, of synthesizing the worst features of left and right and the best.
Bob LeFevre is a link to a founding generation, as I have said, harking back to Chodorov and Lane and Hoiles and Nock, even as that generation harked back to Jefferson and Paine. Think of it; that generation’s libertarians comprised a handful of dedicated and thoughtful people. Today our name is not only libertarian but legion. It is worldwide. We have not only a Carl Oglesby drifting over to our island of solid thinking but you have the so-called New Philosophers in France, erstwhile Maoists and terrors of the Sorbonne, settling on a basic anti-ideological, anti-political style of thinking, first cousins to the latter day libertarians Bob LeFevre has tutored. We’ve even reached an historic point when a newspaper editorialist can refer to Bob LeFevre and Timothy Leary in the same breath. It’s astonishing. Not only is this synthesis, it is testament to Bob LeFevre’s remarkable prescience. I remember conversations with him a decade ago, myself then caught up in the American conservative youth movement. (Bob will tell you I never escaped, bless his purist heart.)
Even then he predicted the dizzying realignment of political forces. His clairvoyance was effortless. He knows better than most that the most durable division of humankind is that which separates those who in their hearts and minds yearn to control others and live their lives as nuisances and those who will be free. Is that oversimplification? Perhaps. Robert Benchley said that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t. I think it’s extremely important, no less for our generation than for Bob LeFevre’s, to knife through such convoluted explanations of political events as we see today. Such tortured punditry usually arises from the need to avoid uncomfortable conclusions — namely that freedom works, that liberated men and women provide the most harmonious, the most orderly, and the most well – fed society feasible. Bob LeFevre’s freedom philosophy, this exceptionally gentle man’s philosophy, holds out limitless possibilities. Therefore, it is a thinking man’s joy. Please welcome Bob LeFevre.
DOES GOVERNMENT PROTECTION PROTECT?
By Robert LeFevre
Thank you very much, Ken, and ladies and gentlemen. If you can spare a copy of that, Ken, I’d like it because I’d like to look up some of the words and find out what you said.
Actually, I understood what you said, but I will do two things. One, I’m going to deny the story about the fly. That’s not true. But the story about the sheriff is true and I don’t mind telling you about it.
It was when we had the campus in Colorado and the plot of land that we had was sandwiched between two other privately-owned plots. The people behind us had no means of access to their property except by means of a road that went through our property and for which they had an easement. After a very severe winter, more or less normal for some of the high mountains in Colorado, the runoff precipitated floods which washed away the bridge spanning the stream over which the access road went. Thus our neighbors behind us had no means of getting in or out of their property. I noted that fact and presumed they would do something about it. It was their task to keep the road in repair, mine to let them go back and forth. Well, my son notified me one day that there was some heavy equipment that had been moved in, and I figured itwould be used to replace the bridge.
And he said, “No, Dad, they are tearing into the bank on our side of the property line.”
I hastened to look, and my son was correct. Our neighbors were, in fact, encroaching on our land not merely by parking on it, but they were engaged with steam shovel and bulldozer in putting in an entirely new road on our land. I was emotionally upset. And I paced the room trying to figure out what in the world I could do. I didn’t want to get a gun, not because I wouldn’t hurt a fly, but I simply didn’t think that was the way to handle these things.
What could I do? Well, I finally succumbed. You’re right and whoever reported it was correct. I called the sheriff. The minute I dialed the number, my secretary said, “Who are you calling?”
And I said, “I’m calling the sheriff.”
And she said, “What?”
The tone of her voice and the look on her face shocked me so that when he came on the line all I was intending to say to him vanished from my mind. Instead, I said, “Do you have the phone number of the people who live behind us? I’d like to telephone them.”
He said, “Sure,” and gave me the number. That’s all I got from the sheriff.
Here’s the rest of it. I called my neighbor, introduced myself on the phone and said, “Do you understand what you’re doing? You’re back there on my land, tearing out some of my property and you didn’t even ask for permission.”
There was a silence at the other end of the line and then: “Oh, my God, Oh my, Oh, Oh, ah yes, yes. Yes, of course, you’re right.” He said, “Oh, Mister LeFevre, you’re new in this area. Where I’ve put the road now is where it once was. But that was before you moved in and you would have no way of knowing that. I’m terribly sorry. Believe me, I’ll go right back and I’ll put everything back the way it was. We’ve taken out a few trees. I’ll replace them. I’ll put it all back the way it was. I wouldn’t have done this for the world.” He was practically groveling and I began feeling better and better.
Finally, my reasoning powers took over. One of these days I’d like to buy his property and the place where he was putting the road was exactly where I’d put it if I owned the property. He was probably saving me expenses later on. So instead of hanging up, I got over my hang-up and I said, “Mister Blank, now that you’ve been so nice and apologized I think we’ll just call it a draw. Why don’t you just go ahead doing what you’re doing.” It turned out to be a vast improvement. So there it is. You see how much need we really do have for the government in situations such as this.
Anyway, Ken’s introduction got right to the point as he so frequently does. I’ve talked to many people over many years and one of the big questions that is raised is how much government do we really need. Of course, a great many, I suppose fundamentally the conservative—those who think of themselves as the rock- ribbed property-owning productive people—will say to me, “Well, there’s just one thing for the government to do and that is protect our lives and property.” Now, if I go outside the Orange County area, or any other area dominated by conservative thinking, I will find extensions to what the government has to do… “Of course, the government has to protect our lives and property but, in addition, put in the roads. After that, we’re allright.” Or “The government has to protect our lives and property and put in the roads and schools and provide us with tariff protection from trade with those other people who aren’t as we are because they work for less money than we do, and therefore, we have to have the government protect us from them.” And so it goes. The further away you get from Orange County, the more things you find government has to do.
Well, I deny I’m as pure as Ken says I am, but I try to take a position based on reason. And I try to be a realist about it.
A NUMBER ONE SUCCESS STORY
My question for tonight is: Does government protection protect? I think that is really the point.
We’re right in the middle of this big debate over Proposition 13 versus Proposition 8. I’m sorry that, at the moment, I’m not getting the kind of reaction I would like to hear from either side in the debate. Because while the proponents of Proposition 13 say they’re going to win, the proponents of Proposition 8 say they’re going to get even. If you vote for 13, they’re going to reduce the size of schools or cut them out. And they’re going to reduce police protection and fire protection. And, of course, the reaction I hear from the populace is “Oh, you can’t do that. We’ve got to have those things.” Now, if we were really for Proposition 13, what we would do when we heard these opponents say “if you take away our power to tax your property, we’re goingto close the schools” would be to laugh and say, “Swell, they deserve to be closed. We’re going to set up our own.” When they say, “We’re going to reduce your fire protection,” we ought to say, “Gee, that’s marvelous; it’s going to give us some great opportunities to make some money.” And we’ll call up the fire department at Scottsdale, Arizona, which is doing nothing but make money, and model our system along those lines. It’s a private system. It has been operating for about thirty years. It’s a number one success story.
And then when the opponents say we’re going to reduce police protection, we’ll talk about private protection. We’re going to take a look at that tonight. So let me move directly to that area.
LAWS OF REGULATION—NOT PROTECTION
Ladies and gentlemen, the desire for protection is probably the most deeply embedded conviction respecting government that most people have. Maybe more. It is a belief that you and I are helpless in matters relating to our own protection. And so we have to let government handle the problem. Now, were we to conduct any study on the subject, we would first of all discover that governments from time immemorial have never really said they were going to protect us. If you examine, for example, the Code of Hammurabi, which was drafted about 1750 B.C., you’ll find this ancient Babylonian lawmaker suggesting what has since become categorized as lex talionis, the laws of retaliation, not the laws of protection.
So the very first thing for us to do tonight is provide a definition for certain terms so we can be in communication. We have, in fact, become confused because of our dependence on government in this area. We’ve taken four or five ideas and lumped them together and called them protection. Let me identify the ideas. One: we think of retaliation as a part of protection. Two: we think of punishment as a part of protection. Three: we think of restitution as a part of protection. Four: we think of defense as a part of protection. And five: we think of protection as protection. We think of protection as including all five concepts. If we are going to understand our subject, we will have to analyze each concept clearly and carefully.
I’m going to use the word protection to mean just one thing. I’m going to define the word and I’m deriving the meaning from the roots of the word itself to mean that when you are protected, in fact, you are safe. Nothing happens to you. Never mind whether anybody wants to hurt you or not; if you are protected, you aren’t hurt.
In your mind, think of the word protection as meaning safety. I’m going to submit, ladies and gentlemen, that safety is really what you and I want. We would like to be safe in our persons and property. We don’t want to be injured. We are sensitive creatures. We experience pain if someone thrusts a knife into us, shoots a bullet into us, or even swats us. We don’t like those things to happen. So we want to be protected because we want safety. I think we should be protected.
The word retaliation does not mean protection. Retaliation, in fact, is as far removed from protection as competition is removed from monopoly. If you have to retaliate or if you believe you do, it proves that you weren’t protected. These are mutually exclusive terms. You cannot have them both at the same time. You either are protected or you aren’t. If you aren’t, then you may have been hurt. After your injury, then maybe you could retaliate. But there is no way you can retaliate if you haven’t first been hurt. And if you didn’t get hurt, then you can’t retaliate. Is anyone having problems with that? Okay, fine.
Now what is punishment? Punishment is something inflicted on someone by an authority over him like his mother, his father, or Big Daddy State or whatever. Of course, we have masochists who inflict pain on themselves, claiming they enjoy it. So pain is not really punishment from their point of view. The word punishment itself means the infliction of unwanted injury, harm, pain, something unwelcome upon someone by someone else who has somehow managed to get into an authoritative position. This is not protection.
Now restitution. Restitution means that something taken away from you is restored. That isn’t protection, either.
And defense. Defense is what happens in the heat of combat when somebody hits you and you hit him back hoping to curtail further blows. Defense means an actual combative situation with both sides engaged in essentially the same thing. Defense isn’t the same as protection. It is the first step toward retaliation when protection is inadequate. The Arabs have a proverb that “All wars begin with the second blow.” Clausewitz says, “Every act of war is an act of retaliation.” I hope to stay away from defense as much as I can although I don’t mind getting into it. Because, after all, if we’re going to talk about protection, we may have to open it up.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I submit that you do not want to retaliate, that you really don’t want to punish anybody, that you don’t even want to defend yourself, and you don’t want to receive restitution because you’d prefer to be in a position where nobody has to make restitution to you. That all of thosethings are undesirable in terms of what you really want. What you really want is protection. And if you have protection, in fact, the rest of this becomes academic. If you’re protected, in fact, we can put the questions of defense, restitution, punishment and retaliation aside.
It all comes down to protection. The question is: Does government protection protect? Through long dependence on the government, we have become guilty of lump-think. We lump all these concepts together and we call it all protection.
BASE FOR COMPARISON
Now I’m going to show you just how well the government protects you. (Holds up several books.) I have been making a collection of these little goodies for a number of years. These are the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports that are issued every year. And I have a shelf full of them. I have them going clear back into the 1940’s. I have gotten one every year for all that time. Now, I brought with me tonight just a few because I didn’t want to be excessively burdened.
I have the 1970 Uniform Crime Report, 1971, 1972, 1975, and 1976. And I’m going to show you what the FBI says their record is in handing crime or in protecting you from the bad guys. Okay, the so-called bad guys.
I still use the 1970 Report for a number of reasons. One of these is the last report that the FBI has put out that has within it a ten-year composite study. I’m hopeful that in 1980, they will come up with another ten-year report. I think the room is small enough so I can hold this up and if you have good eyes, you ought to detect the direction of these curves.
Now, that is a ten-year study of how the government has been fighting crime. From 1960 to 1970, in that period of time, crime in all categories in the United States went up 176 percent. The rate went up 144 percent as opposed to a population increase of 13 percent. Now, ladies and gentlemen, that means that according to the FBI figures, crime in all categories in that ten-year period went up better than ten times faster than the population.
Inside, if you care to read these dreary things, you will discover that actually the increase of crime at the particular time, instead of taking place in the areas where the population was expanding, was taking place in the suburbs basically and not in the so-called ghetto areas. Now, it fluctuates back and forth, but at this time, it was taking place in the suburban areas. So that clearly the rate of increase of population has no necessary connection to the crime rate. What is shown over many years is that population density and population growth had no necessary connection with the incidence of crime or crime growth. Population growth and the growth of crime fluctuate. Nothing that I know of can tie them together in any kind of cause and effect relationship. So that’s the statistical story of crime, in general.
Now, crimes of violence over the same ten-year period—up 156 percent. Crimes against property for the same ten-year period—up 180 percent. That’s the ten-year study. I’m going to refer back to that book later on.
Just to be sure that the impact of what the FBI says reaches you, let me sum it up this way. First, let me make an explanation. Nobody, including the FBI, says these figures are accurate. They are bound not to be accurate for the reason that all we have here are the crimes that have been reported. Obviously, many crimes are not reported. Additionally, there is bound to be some increase in crime every year as long as the legislators stay in session. There is bound to be, because every time a new piece of legislation is enacted,somebody is bound to trip over it. And, of course, when you trip over it, you’ve violated a law. And that’s going to classify you as a lawbreaker, hence a criminal. You might be a minor criminal but that depends on how badly the legislature wanted that particular piece of legislation. The fact remains that nobody says that these figures are accurate. There is one merit that these reports have and it makes them the best information that we have that comes out regularly in the country. Or at least it did until currently. They are uniform. These are uniform crime reports. Consequently, whatever errors are made are made consistently. So we have a base for comparison if nothing else.
PYRAMIDS AND THE WRONG DESTINATION
To be sure that the impact of my point is not lost, let me offer an analogy. I so often find that when I’mtrying to make a point with some of my students that if I hammer away at a given idea, I sometimes hammer their minds closed. I don’t mean to do that. Sometimes when I approach something from an angle it is easier to see.
Let us suppose that all of us here in this room work for a moving and transfer company. Let us suppose also that we are good. In fact, we are so proud of our work we have emblazoned on the sides of our trucks a motto which reads “WE CAN MOVE ANYTHING MADE BY THE HAND OF MAN.” And we do a lot of business. One day we are approached by a potential client from Egypt and he says, “Is that true? Can you really move anything made by the hand of Man?”
And we say, “We think we can. What do you have for us?”
And he says, “Well, we have an idea in Egypt that were we to move the Great Pyramid of Giza from its present location to a few miles north of Cairo, it would be a better tourist attraction. Money’s no object. We’ve got money. So we’d like to move the pyramid. Now you understand, it has to be moved intact because, you know, that thing wasn’t put together with cement. Those blocks are loose. They just fit. We don’t want any vibration. Can you move it as one piece without damaging it and set it up 25 miles north of Cairo?” The entire distance, we’ll imagine, for purposes of this illustration, to be one hundred miles. “Can you move it?”
Of course, we start to laugh about this time and say, “Well, of course, we can move it but you realize that this is going to cost you.”
And our client says, “Money is no object. We really would like to get it moved. Can you give us a fixed bid?”
And we say, “Well, sure, we can do that. We’ll send a team of experts over and get you a quotation.” So we get our best team and we send them to Egypt. And they spend six months over there measuring, calculating, and doing all of the things necessary. And then the team comes back and they say, “You’re not going to sell this one. It can be done, but it’s a massive job.” And they describe all of the problems. And they say, “The cost is going to be one billion dollars; that’s a thousand millions. That is a great many dollars. So your client’s going to turn you down.” And we say we think so, too, but ho ho, we’ll try it. We give the quotation to our client.
And he says, “It’s no problem. Go ahead. Here’s your billion dollars.” We design the equipment, go to Egypt, tie onto the pyramid and tug for a year. Then we get out and measure and discover we are 125 miles from the destination. Our client asks, “What went wrong?” And we say. “We underestimated the job. It’s going to take more money than we thought. We need two billion more on top of the one you gave us. Why don’t you drop it?” But our client says, “No, we want it moved. Here are the two billion. Move it.”
And we say, “Yes, sir.” And we hook on and pull for another year and we get out and measure and we are 175 miles from our destination. And we repeat the process the third year and find we are 300 miles away from where we want to go. Would you begin to think you’re doing something wrong? Well, that is what we are doing with protection.
LAWS OF RETALIATION
Let me show you, if I can, the system that we have. The system that we have is based on the Code of Hammurabi which didn’t work well even then and is not working well now. It’s lex talionis, the law of retaliation. I’m going to explain a little more about it, but I want you to get the picture. Here’s the way we do it.
The first act in this little drama is this. You and I are afraid that there are some kooks out there who could hurt us. And I’ll tell you something. It’s true. So we’re afraid of that. We feel completely inadequate and the government, of course, has been telling us for years that we’re inadequate about everything except earning a living so they can tax us. We authorize the creation of government and the very first thing the government does is to perform an act of major predation. Isn’t this nice? And by major, I mean it involves everybody in the territory over which the government holds sway. It goes out and rips off everybody so that it can get the money together so that nobody will rip you off. That’s the first act.
After that is performed, the next act is a private one. I’m going to call it minor predation. Not because the act isn’t serious; it could indeed be murder but the numbers of persons involved are necessarily few. And, therefore, it is minor as opposed to major in the sense that it involves all. So this act occurs in spite of what we’ve done to forestall or prevent it.
Now after that has happened, the third act in our little drama — also provided by the government — is an act of minor predation in which the government goes out, tries to find the person responsible for act two, once in a while succeeds, brings him in and tries him, hopefully convicts him and then punishes him. That’s the system. That’s the way we have it set up. I call the third act minor because the only people suffering here are either the criminals themselves or those who were mistakenly in the wrong place at the wrong time and are taken to be criminals and those closely associated. But it’s minor in the sense it doesn’t touch all of us. Another act like act two.
Okay, and then we go to act four, this one also provided by the government. We have another act of major predation as the government goes out a second time and steals from everybody in the area to get the money to pay for the services rendered in act three. Take a look.
You and I are worried about act two. We’re worried about being privately injured. As a result of that worry, we authorize this and this and this (acts 1, 3, and 4). And private injury not only happens anyway, it happens with increasing frequency the more of government we authorize. The government’s own figures confirm it. Now study that a bit, concentrate on it, and see if you can come up with a worse system if you tried. You can’t win here for losing. This is a disaster. It’s worse than I’ve let on. Oh, believe me, this is incredible. I’ll give you a few further insights just to give you an idea how successful the police are.
I’m going back to the Uniform Crime Report of 1970. In 1970, ladies and gentlemen, there were 2,169,300 burglaries in the United States. That’s just burglaries. It has gone up since then. The losses total $672,000,000. Now, get these figures. Nineteen percent of the burglaries were solved by the police, 9 percent were convicted, 3 percent served out their time or are still serving time.
Now, do you see the implications? That means if you’re a burglar, you have an 81 percent chance of doing your burglarizing without being caught, a 91 percent chance of not being convicted, and a 97 percent chance of not having to serve out your time. That’s better odds than you can get in Vegas if you own the casino.
Admittedly, burglary is one of the most difficult areas for the police to deal with. I’ll explain why in a moment.
Let me give you the corresponding figures in the area where, strangely, the government has been improving fantastically. In fact, I’m going to the area where they used to be the worst and are now getting better. They’ve made great strides in apprehending murderers. Of course, they can’t catch the Hillside Strangler and lots of others.
Their records indicate there is a 21 percent likelihood of arrest; their rate of conviction and punishment is about on a par with burglary.
You can take a relatively comfortable position, put all crime together and say the police are successful 20 percent of the time, from a low of 19 percent to a high of 21 percent. Twenty is a comfortable middle which means the police are unsuccessful 80 percent of the time.
Now I want to make this point clear. I am not engaged in attacking the police. I think something could be said in that area. It is not my purpose to vilify the police officer. I have met many of them. You do find a few slant-browed, long-fanged Neanderthals but the bulk of them are actually very nice fellows. Mostly, they’re pretty honest and they’re carrying on a tough job. So we don’t have to be down on them. They simply can’t do the job they’re hired to do for reasons which will emerge as we proceed.
Let’s get back to one of the points I was originally making to show the difference between protection and retaliation.
What you want is protection. You want to be safe. What the government does is to try to retaliate after the fact. I know it’s comforting to believe that if somebody rips of your television set the cops will find it and bring it back. It’s comforting to believe that. And once in a while it happens. The police are usually not there when the theft occurs. There’s an old adage that says the police are never around when you want them. We laugh about that and conclude that the police are not very sharp. Don’t blame the police. Very few crooks perform with a police audience. And because the police wear distinctive clothing and carry noisemakers and have flashing lights, you can see them as far as you can see. Therefore, there’s no point in performing a criminal act when the criminal knows the police are in the vicinity. So he waits and the police will leave presently. Then he performs the crime. That is why the police have a great deal of difficulty in catching people after the crime is committed. Because—and you can ask them—they don’t know who did it.
POLICE ARE NOT MAGICIANS
I’ve had some experiences which illustrate the point. One time at the Gazette Telegraph in Colorado Springs, somebody threw a boulder through two of our big glass doors. In due course, the police arrived and made all the appropriate inquiries. There were two policemen with guns. They were ready. We had the rock in the lobby. The officers took notes and then they looked at me and said, “If you ever find out who done it, tell us and we’ll be glad to pick him up.”
What did you expect? Police are not magicians. They’re good people but they weren’t there when the crime took place. I wasn’t there. The only one there was the crook. This is one of the reasons the police record is not really scintillating.
Despite the difficulties the police have in acting after the fact, they once in a while have success: twenty percent, give or take a fraction either way. That’s remarkable in itself. Twenty percent. A very difficult twenty percent. Of course, we’re talking about crimes where restitution could be made. Somebody steals my TV set; there are other TV sets. I could get one back. Money could be returned, theoretically, at least. It’s possible.
But what about a really serious crime, an irreversible crime, a crime for which restitution is impossible. Don’t tell me the joys of catching the man who murders my wife. I don’t want the man who murders my wife because I don’t want my wife murdered. What do you want me to do with him? If I have to collect people, I’d like to collect nice people. I don’t want to collect murderers.
I don’t want my wife murdered. I want her to be safe.
Don’t tell me the joys of catching the fellow who rapes my daughter. I don’t want my daughter raped. What do you want me to do with him, rape him? I don’t want him.
What about the man who kidnaps my son? I don’t want to catch him. I want my son safe from being kidnapped. These are the serious crimes. I’m not suggesting that theft is not serious. But I mean irreversible crimes, crimes where restitution is absolutely impossible. Don’t tell me that the system we have is going to work.
The system can’t work unless it involves protection. What do you want to do, punish somebody because they have done some terrible thing?
I submit that what you really want is to stop the terrible things from occurring before they happen. You don’t want to be hurt. You want to be safe. I hope you do. If so, I’m with you.
I can’t run as fast as I used to and I’m getting brittle so I break easily. Really, I want to be safe.
And restitution. Nay, I want to be safe to start with. And may I point out, if we have protection, in fact, retaliation is impossible. Restitution is impossible. The question of restitution or retribution becomes academic. What we need is protection.
GOVERNMENT POLICE & TRAINING
The government never said it was going to protect anyone. Oh, maybe currently some of the politicians tell you that. But all anyone has to do is examine the facts. Government is a bunch of rules which say that if you break them, government will hurt you. It’s not going to prevent these rules from being broken. Government is designed only to retaliate and is successful only 20 percent of the time.
Now, people, protection is easier than retaliation. You can have a higher achievement average if you understand what protection is than if you try to operate on the basis of retaliation.
How do we protect? Again, what I’m getting at is that the government never said it was going to protect you. And I must make an additional point here. Because the government isn’t organized to protect you, you are the bait in the trap. You have to be hurt before the government can do anything. Think how dreadful it would be if the government acted before the crime by arresting people before they’d done anything wrong.
I don’t know how many of you have attended a police training session where ordinary, decent human beings are made into policemen. If you ever attended one of these sessions, I think you’d find what I am about to say familiar.
The sergeant in charge of training addresses himself to the men who are called rookies. And he demeans them for a moment, making them feel very bad and then he says, “Now I want you to get this straight. If you ever do get out of this police academy and become policemen, your job is to enforce the law without fear or favor. We don’t want policemen here who like some laws and dislike others. That’s not your business. Your business is to go by the book. You learn what the laws are and you enforce them and you enforce them all the way up and down the line. Which means if your wife, your mother, your sweetheart, your daughter, or your best friend is caught violating the law, you book them and bring them in.”
Now, you will find every policeman taking that training. He’s got to take that training to be a policeman.
The proper relationship between persons is a market relationship which follows what we call the law of supply and demand. In fields of protection, you and I are the demanders and we find people who are suppliers who can provide protection. You go to the store to buy it. The fellow who has the store says. “My system works. It’ll cost you so much, and it will accomplish this much. I also have another system that will do this much more and accomplish this much more, and it will cost you this much more. And this third one works this way, accomplishes this, and it will cost you this. Which one do you want? My systems are guaranteed; they will do what we say they will do.”
Suppose you buy a private system, install it and it doesn’t work. You can have a guarantee and you can get your money back. But, notice something. The man who is dealing with you doesn’t look at you and say, “I can’t sell this until I’m sure you’re not a crook. How do I know what you want to do with this device? You can’t have it because I have to check upon you. I don’t trust you.”
Here’s what we get with the government in the picture. Here’s the government, and here are you and me as taxpayers. And we say to the government, “We want to be protected.” The government says, “Sure,” and they hire the police and the police are here. And what do they tell the police? They say, “You take a look out there where those taxpayers are and remember that every one of them is a potential crook.”
The police aren’t hired to protect you. They’re hired to keep an eye on you to see what you did that was wrong so that they can book you. That’s their function. They are not protectors. They are not hired to be protectors. They are hired to keep an eye on all of us as potential criminals. Now, do you think they’re going to make you safe? They weren’t hired to make you safe.
A friend of mine has a van and keeps his tools in it. He has rigged it up with a burglar alarm, by the way. But before he put the alarm, on it, this little event occurred. He parked it in a parking lot and left it unlocked because he was just going to talk to somebody right in the parking lot. So the van wasunattended and, of course, he’d left the back door open because he planned to be right there. But one thing led to another, and he moved several yards away. He looked back as he was engaged in this conversation and a total stranger was lifting one of his cases of tools out of the van. He ran back and said, “Wait a moment. That’s my stuff.”
Right at this particular time, he happened to see a policeman. So he called for help. The policeman came over and here was this man holding my friend’s set of tools. And my friend said, “This man just got into my van and helped himself to the tools.”
The policeman looked at the fellow and the fellow said. “That’s not true, officer. These are my tools. I was walking across the parking lot and this man accosted me and claimed the tools were his.” The policeman said, “Are the tools marked?” It happened that none of them were. So the policeman looked around and said, “I don’t know which one of you is telling the truth. But the way I see it, you’ve got the tools and you haven’t.” And the thief walked off with the tools under police protection.
How did the policeman know who owned the tools? He didn’t know. Naturally, when you’re the owner you feel a sense of outrage. But what would you do? Well, since then, my friend has taken care of it. It isn’t going to happen again.
This is the point I’m trying to make. The police are not hired to protect you. They are there to enforce the law and what you want is to be safe.
UNIFORM CRIME REPORT—FBI
What I have here is a record going back to 1970—the F.B.I. 1970 Uniform Crime Report. But first, let me show you the 1971 book and these others because I think you ought to see them.
1971 provides a five-year record. Naturally, those lines don’t seem to go up as rapidly but the reason is this graph provides only a five-year base. And the crime from 1966 to 1971 went up 83 percent against a population increase of 5 percent. Now if you double that for ten years, it’s approximately the same as the ten-year chart. Crimes of violence up 90 percent, crimes against property 82 percent; that’s the 1971 story. Now, a slight variation once in a while. And the criminologists, the penologists, the scholars who are studying this are now beginning to tell us there is a reason for it.
You notice that in 1972 there was, in fact, a downturn. In 1972 crime in all categories diminished slightly. Of course, the average for five years is still up. But that year it declined; it was actually still up on violent crime but it went down on crimes against property sufficiently to bring the average down in 1972. That happened once before and the criminologists said, “We don’t understand it; we don’t know what caused it.” But now they’re beginning to come up with an idea on it. After that improvement we got in 1972, it almost looks as if the criminals had just taken a sabbatical and come back with greater enthusiasm than before. Because they made up for lost time and went right back up to where they would have been if they hadn’t slackened off.
And I must give you the sad news. This is the last report out, 1976. The 1977 report comes out in August or September of 1978. They’re always behind in Washington.
But now we have the Carter administration and do you know what they say? They say, “We are not going to be doing them—the Crime Reports—the same way after this. Instead of tabulating the known crimes (because we know that they’re not accurate), we are just going to estimate.” If this is done from here on, the reports will be worthless. Absolutely. They weren’t much good to start with but from now on—zilch. I wanted you to get that picture. So there have been a couple of occasions in American history where the crime rate has gone down slightly. What was the extent of crime in the United States in 1970?
I have to make a very careful delineation at this juncture. One of the tragic things that we face all the time is that people tend to equate the law or legislation passed by lawmakers with what is morally correct. And so there’s a tendency to believe that what is right is what is lawful. And what is wrong is unlawful. If it’s against the law, we assume it’s wrong and if it is in harmony with the law, then it must be all right. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no necessary connection.
We have to make a distinction. This is not a distinction made by the F.B.I. But we must make it. There are types of crime. There are some crimes in which some person was injured as a result of another human being violating his boundaries in some way, either his person or his property, and inflicting an injury by theft, mugging, rape, murder, whatever. So an injury was inflicted. And then there are some crimes that are merely violations of some legislative enactment where nobody was injured at all except perhaps the dignity of some piece of paper. That’s all. Now, the government doesn’t make a great deal of distinction here.
There are various categories but when it comes to, for example, the difference between a bank robber and a man who doesn’t pay his taxes; the government sees no significant difference. The government will tell you a man who doesn’t pay his taxes is essentially a thief. He is robbing the government. Now, that’s the government’s point of view. I don’t happen to share it and I don’t think many of you do. But that is actually what they will say so they will treat a tax evader with exactly the severity they would a bank robber. Fromtheir point of view, he’s done the same thing. He has taken money belonging to others. Okay, now, I wanted to get that into the record because of these two very definite classes of crime, the class of crime where there are injuries and the class of crime where crimes are crimes only because the government says they are.
THE CRIME REPORT
Going back to the 1970 book then, let us list the kind of crime that we had and the cost in terms of dollars, in the United States. The total cost of crime, according to a study that was performed by U.S. News and World Report in 1970—and there has been no composite study of equal merit since then—the total cost of crime in that year was $51.1 billion.
I’m going to make the breakdown I told you about. First. I’m going to talk about real crime where injuries are inflicted. The largest category in the United States is business theft; that is to say, theft from employers performed by their employees—that’s the number one category. And it has been for a number of years and it is the number one today. This is a sad commentary on what is happening in this nation. There is such, an anti-business, anti-capitalist mentality in the land that a businessman is viewed as fair game by a great many of his employees. They simply take advantage of him at every opportunity. And they don’t think it’s wrong. Some of it is petty. They will steal a few stamps, some pencils, paperclips. They put a little gas into the car from the company pump and they don’t report it. They pad their expense accounts. In fact, that’s almost a new form of literature in the United States, the padded expense account. They do anything and everything against the boss and they think nothing of it. If you work for a grocery store, you take out a half a ham or half a case of peaches, stick it in the car. If you work at a machine shop, you take a few tools or maybe a few machine parts. And it goes on and on. Additionally, we’ve actually found whole rings of thieves professionally operating within given plants and just fencing the material the firm is making or handling. Business theft is a big item. And it was the largest in the United States in 1970. The figures today would be larger but then it was $3 billion. All of these numbers will be in billions of dollars.
The second largest crime in 1970 was homicide, $2.1 billion. Now, how is that figured? Obviously, one cannot calculate the value of a human life accurately. Nobody said these figures were accurate. The victim’s earning power based on his educational background or his business experience, whatever it may have been is estimated. Then “the loss to society” from the date he was eliminated is calculated. Thus, if a person was relatively young at the time he was murdered, the loss to society is great. If he was past 65—boys will be boys. Of course, now it’s going to be past 70 because they’re changing retirement laws. But that’s the general idea, so the loss is calculated dollar-wise based on the anticipated earning power of the deceased. To which is added hospitalization costs in the process of becoming deceased or any insurance payouts which are also added. It came to $2.1 billion. (Q. Do your figures include court costs? A. No, that’s separate. I’ll show them as I have them.)
Robbery and burglary, listed as a single crime, came to $2 billion. Of course, business theft is also robbery and burglary but it’s separately classed.
Then we have drunk driving. Not that the driving is the problem. It’s stopping in the wrong way. And when that happens it can be a very costly affair. Not only automobile damage but manslaughter and other property damage is included here, $2 billion. Then we have fraud and embezzlement, and that’s $1.5 billion. And we have vandalism, $1.1 billion. Hijacking is $900 million. And shoplifting is $500 million. Notice, most of these are theft or robbery of one kind or another, but they give them special categories. And this, of course, adds up to $13.1 billion.
You will notice that they have not included mugging or rape. The reason is that they couldn’t figure out how to put a dollar value on them. So we don’t have it in dollars. The F.B.I, keeps an eye on it, but we don’t have a dollar value, so take a mental note. It’s bigger than this by the cost of those particular crimes.
So that is the total cost of crime where there were victims as opposed to the total cost of crime. I submit that those numbers are widely apart, $13.1 billion as opposed to $51.1 billion.
Now, let me show you where the government feels the big problem is. You’re going to love this first one. Gambling: number one crime in the United States. Oh, not just gambling—illegal gambling. This doesn’t include Los Alamitos or the state of Nevada: anything that’s legal doesn’t count. This is illegal gambling. Hang on. Fifteen billion dollars—bigger than all of these put together. Bribery of officials, $5 billion. (Q. Does that include government officials? A. These are the only ones that are reported.) Obviously, it’s bigger than this, but these are the only ones that have been reported. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you if the officials weren’t there, you wouldn’t have to bribe them.
Who was it? Professor Buchanan, University of Virginia, has done a study showing that if you had a government in which bribery became impossible, nothing would work. You have to be able to bribe government people to get the wheels to turn around because they’ve so many legislative enactments that freeze everything shut you have to grease the wheels. Fortunately, we are not likely to run into that kind of government where bribery doesn’t occur. You just have to be careful.
Narcotics, $2.2 billion. All of these figures are dated. They go to 1970. Let me pause for a moment to take up this question of narcotics because I would be very happy to be on the record with you as being strongly opposed to the use of hard drugs. I think hard drugs are bad news. And I would like to see this practice of using hard drugs reduced as rapidly as possible. Therefore, I must urge that we get the government out of this area as fast as we can in order to control it. Here we have a very serious problem.
DEMON RUM & THE 18th AMENDMENT
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no reason for us to be confused in this area. We, of all people, have had experience. And it should have come to our minds when we were getting all uptight in this area a matter of ten, fifteen, twenty years ago.
May I recite just a very little history of the United States? Earlier in this century, during the ‘Teens, a group of very well-intentioned ladies decided that alcohol was a dangerous substance and it ought to be forbidden. The men of the country were too weak-willed to resist the temptation of demon rum. Therefore a law would have to be passed to protect their helpless wives and children. For the husbands were getting paid on Saturday, stopping at the saloon on the way home, and then the rent money wouldn’t arrive home with them.
Therefore, to protect the helpless wives and children, a law would be passed to prevent the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Now, these ladies were, of course, marvelously well intentioned. And there’s no question but that alcohol is a dangerous drug. It is not a food. It is apreservative. When you drink it you do not get nourished, you get pickled. That’s the way it works.
So the ladies decided to do something about it and they raised quite a bit of money and made quite a bit of noise. In process, they were joined by another equally splendid group of men, a ministerial organization, who likewise went out and thumped the drum to get money and to get the 18th Amendment passed, while they were in the midst of this brouhaha getting everything revved up, what should happen but a nice supply of money came in from out of the country. And they were able to put the whole thing across. The 18thAmendment was ratified in 1918.
Where do you think that nice lump of money came from? It came from Sicily. Why do you suppose the people in Sicily wanted to see us ratify the 18th amendment? Well, it’s called profit. You see, if you can get an addictive drug—and alcohol can be an addictive drug—forbidden, against the law, then there are people—we sometimes refer to them as Mafia, or the Syndicate, or whatever affectionate term we have for them—who don’t mind breaking the law. A legitimate businessman does. If you make alcohol illegal, the legitimate businessman goes out of business and the Mafia comes in. And they don’t mind dealing with the police; they either bribe them or shoot them. To the Mafia it’s a matter of indifference either way. So the policeman is handled and now the one thing the Mafia can’t handle he doesn’t have to. The government’s handling it for him. The thing the Mafia can’t stand is competition. But the government can handle the competition so the Mafia would like to have it that way. With no competition, they come in.
I see that there are probably a number of people in the audience tonight who can remember the happy days that followed the ratification of the 18th amendment. I was around at the time and I presume some of you may have been. Let me just remind you that prior to 1918 we had, in the United States, one of the lowest per capita consumption rates of alcohol in the world, one of the lowest. We were, indeed, a sober nation. Our sobriety was almost Victorian. We were, really, a little bit prissy in that area.
But let me remind you what the situation was. Saloons were almost as plentiful then as filling stations are today. The “corner” saloon. You didn’t say the saloon, you said the corner saloon because the chances were good that there was a saloon every few blocks. It was on the corner where you could get at it from either direction fast. Now, what about the liquor that was sold in the saloons?
In those days you could go into the corner saloon and for five cents you could buy a bucket of beer, the finest brew made, and while you were drinking it the bartender would have sandwiches on the counter and pretzels and peanuts. And you helped yourself and there was no charge. If a man had as much as a nickel, he could get full.
You know, people, in those days we didn’t have much of a welfare problem. A man could always panhandle a nickel even if he was broke. You could go out on the street and say, “Sir, could you spare a nickel or a dime?” And you could get fed with that. But you could also get drunk with it. What aboutwhiskey? The finest whiskey available: rye, scotch, bourbon—ten cents a shot. Back then it was readily available. In every corner saloon, a nickel for all the beer you’d want to hold, well, all the beer I’d want to hold—more than I’d want to hold to tell you the truth—and hard liquor, ten cents. And we had one of the lowest alcoholic consumption rates in the world.
Okay now, in 1918, the amendment, the Volstead Act, and the enforcement teams come out. And from 1918 to 1933 and 1934 when the Act was repealed, what happened? We went from one of the lowest per capita consumption rates in alcohol to one of the highest in the world while the government was suppressing it. Now’, people, if you don’t understand that, see me after we’re through tonight. I mean, this is so conspicuous that it should have warned us.
What about hard drugs? In 1960 a survey was made to discover the rate of hard drug addiction in New York City versus London. The two cities are huge: they were comparable in size at that time. I believe they still are. At that particular time, in I960, in London there were no laws whatsoever against the taking of hard drugs. In London, a person could go into any chemist’s—that’s a drug store — and for one shilling could buy six fixes of heroin, the pure stuff, uncut. And for your information, not that I have to tell some of you, but with six fixes of uncut heroin you can go into orbit for a month. You don’t even have to touch the landing strip. And that’s a shilling. Now, how many drug addicts did they have in London when hard drugs were readily available? It was not viewed as a crime and anybody who wanted it could get all he wanted for a shilling. At that particular time, according to the figures, there were 200 drug addicts in London.
THE NEW YORK CITY ADDICTION
Let’s compare that with New York. In New York City, and for nearly a hundred years prior to this time, this goes back to the 19th century in our case, we’ve been fighting hard drug traffic that long. The Treasury Department, the T-men, had been given the task of trying to suppress trade in whatever drug the government says is banned. And this, of course, included hard drugs right from the beginning. And hard drugs are bad news, no question. So the Treasury men had been fighting it and they had been fighting it for years and spending millions of dollars in suppressing it. And in 1960, when the survey was made, in New York City there were more than 14,000 drug addicts.
Now, how could a person get the drug in New York City? The only way was from your friendly neighborhood pusher, who was, of course, tied in, directly or indirectly, with the underworld. What would it cost? Well, it depended on what the pusher thought he could get. He might charge $25 for three fixes of questionable quality that might have been cut with a strychnine, so you didn’t know what you were getting. Or he could charge $30 or $50 or $100, depending on what he thought he could get out of you.
At that price a person can’t go out on the street and say, “I need a fix. Can you let me have 50 bucks?” You might be able to panhandle a nickel or a dime, but you can’t go up to someone and say, “You know, I’m having a problem” and get that kind of money.
So what happened? Well, you not only have over 14,000 addicts in New York, but according to the figures that have been released, 60 percent—that’s the figure they gave me, I don’t know that it’s accurate but that’s what they tell me—sixty percent of the crimes with victims are drug – connected. Why? Because when someone gets hooked on hard drugs, he can’t earn his own living. And when he comes out of his stupor and effects a landing, as it were, he has to get back into orbit as fast as possible. He has a craving that isenough to make the strongest man scream for help. It’s a terrible thing and he’ll do anything to support the habit. He can’t earn the money so what will he do? Literally anything. In fact, a good many of the heavy crimes we are getting today, unquestionably, are drug-connected. So he’ll steal purses or slit throats, take hubcaps or automobiles, smash windows, set fire to buildings, anything that he can do to get his hands on that kind of money. And this is the figure—60 percent—drug connected. So that’s why I said what I did.There is no justification whatever for allowing the government to get into this area, as sensitive as it is. And, of course, the hard drug thing is a bad scene. We’ve got to get the government out of there so we can handle it.
Let’s go to the next item. This is the illegal manufacture of alcohol. I see it’s still a business and it is charted at $770 million. A good deal of the illegal alcohol today is manufactured in the Carolinas and Georgia by the moonshiners. They’re still operating there as they did during’ prohibition days. Why is it illegal? You want to know the reason? There’s only one. These fellows won’t pay taxes, that’s all. They’re simply evading alcohol taxes. These are tax evaders, but they’re listed as criminals. They’re moonshiners.They’re bad people, quote unquote, because they’re not paying their taxes. They are manufacturing alcohol and selling it without paying the tax. I can’t tell you how good or bad it is. I haven’t sampled it.
Okay. Next item. Illegal interest charges, $500 million. Now, ladies and gentlemen, loan sharks can be tough. But so far, the record is overwhelmingly clear. Loan sharks have never been known to go after anybody who hasn’t borrowed from them. If you would like to stay out of the clutches of a loan shark, that’s entirely within your capacity. Don’t borrow from them. So I’m not too impressed with the idea that these people are criminals. Oh, sure they are very rough, but you know, if you go to them, you’re asking fortrouble. And I’d recommend that you not go unless you pretty well know what you’re doing. Then if it doesn’t work out right, don’t come crying to me.
Then we have prostitution, $400 million. I understand it’s enlarging again. It went way down although it used to be big.
And then they list tax fraud. I know this figure has to be wrong but they say $100 million. They don’t want to tell you how big it is.
And that comes to $23.9 billion. Ladies and gentlemen, those crimes listed here are crimes because the government says they are. And it’s larger by $10 billion than crimes where people get hurt. These two figures added up still don’t come to $51.1 billion.
But, now, you asked a question about court costs and so on. Here’s where they come in. In addition to these losses, the police departments around the country cost $5 billion. Penal institutions cost $1.0 billion and the courts cost another $1.8 billion for a total of $8.6 billion. That still doesn’t add up.
The other $5.5 billion, ladies and gentlemen, was spent by those who finally, beginning apparently about 1972, began to realize that the police didn’t protect them and weren’t going to. So they went out into the market and began protecting themselves. And that worked. Now, I’m not selling subscriptions to these. They’re probably good. These are two magazines and they’re put out right in this area, the Los Angeles area,Security World and Security Distributing and Marketing magazines. Both of these are filled with ads and articles that tell you how to protect your life, your property, your person by going into the market and getting the job done.
And what do the insurance companies tell us about this? They tell us if you will protect yourself and not wait for the police, that, in many cases, they can lower your insurance rates because the evidence shows that when people are alert to the problem and protect themselves that private protection is about 90 percent effective. Government protection is 80 percent ineffective. And, people, that’s a broad, broad, difference.
If you rely on the police you have a 20 percent chance and if you rely on yourself and go to the marketplace you have a 90 percent chance. Now, nothing’s perfect. Many times this is my most serious difficulty in trying to explain what government does in this area.
The American people have been deceived so often that they expect me to offer them a panacea in which I give them a written guarantee that all they have to do is go to the marketplace and no crimes will ever happen again. That’s baloney and I know it and you know it and I can’t give you any guarantee. But the government did, you see, or at least many people think the government did. What the government said was, “Trust us and we’ll handle it for you.” That made it possible for you to forget all about it. You presumedthat the government was going to handle it for you. They can’t handle it. They haven’t been handling it. But I am not going to fool you. The government has gotten many of you to believe they’re taking care of the problem. They’re taking care of nothing. You are vulnerable, but if you’ll go into the private area, you can move significantly in the direction of your own protection.
GOVERNMENT IS AN INSTRUMENT OF VENGEANCE
Now here is where the hang-up is. If you are still concerned with retaliation and want to get after the fellow who, despite your best efforts, breaks in and steals from you, then you are going to have to have a government. Government is an instrument of vengeance. That is all it is and that is all it has been from the start. Of course, I repeat, if you protect yourself and if you are protected in fact, then you’re safe. And the question of punishing someone for hurting you can’t come up because you weren’t hurt. That’s what you want. If you can’t think that way, and I have found many people who really can’t, then you have a problem. Some can’t think protection. They can only think retaliation. I can’t say to them, “Go into the market and I’ll guarantee that there will be no more crimes.” Then they say, “A crime is apt to happen.” And I’ll say, “Yes, that’s true. Any crime is still apt to happen. I’m talking about reducing it from its present level by a tremendous factor.” And they say, “Well, a crime could still happen,” Yes, that’s right, it could.
But what do you do with the guy who did it? Well. I don’t know. What do you want to do with him? My suggestion would be this. If you buy a lock for your door and somebody breaks it, buy a better lock. You aren’t going to know who did it any more than the police. So all of your worry about how to get even is predicated on the idea that somehow: 1) You know who did it; 2) You can catch him; 3) You’re bigger than he is; and 4) You can beat it out of him. Well, people, you’re chasing a mirage. It isn’t going to happen. But you don’t have to worry about it if you’ll start thinking in terms of protection.
If we were to get rid of the government—not that we can. Certainly we can’t do it overnight. But just let your minds flow free for a moment. Let us suppose that, by some magic process, we could eliminate the government overnight. These costs would disappear.
The costs of government retaliation would vanish. That’s $8.6 billion. Then the costs of retaliating against those who offend legislative enactments would vanish. That’s another $23.9 billion. The cost of retaliation against victimless crimes. When it comes to crimes with victims, they could be reduced. Thefigures I have say that 60 percent of these crimes are drug connected.
EXAMPLE: COMMUNITY A & B
Now we could reduce this figure. I’m not going to tell you 60 percent. That’s a government figure and I question it. But let’s suppose we cut this by a substantial amount. Let’s suppose we cut this, say, by $3 billion. And we were left with a $10 billion problem. So we have a $10 billion problem. Let’s suppose we have to double private protection costs in order to protect ourselves. That would give us $11 billion and we have moved, by the simple process of getting government out of the way, from a $51 billion problem to a $21 billion problem. You still have a problem, but I don’t think that’s bad for openers. That would just get it started. You could reduce it from there. This is the example I was leading up to. Let us suppose that we have two communities. Community A and Community B, in the United States. And they’re identical in all respects except one. Let me presume, for purposes of comparison, that both of these communities have 100,000 population, 25,000 homes and 5,000 businesses. And they’re equally attractive or unattractive depending on what you think of cities of 100,000. So, they’re alike in all respects save this. Town A has a city manager and a mayor and a city council and the constabulary, the police force, the jails, the courts, the judges, the laws, the works. What we would typically expect today is an American town of 100,000. And Town B is the same except it doesn’t have any of those customary legal trappings.
What would we have in Town A? In Town A, ladies and gentlemen, how many police would there be? If we take the national average, we will discover, as of now, about 175 police in Town A that has a 100,000 population, including meter maids. That means that we have 175 people working round the clock, three shifts a day. We have to allow for vacations and illness. We would do well to have 50 people on duty at one time. And you’re asking those people to protect 100,000 people, 25,000 homes and 5,000 businesses. Theproblem is absolutely insurmountable. It can’t be done. That’s an absurdity.
But there’s something else. Last year, in the average town of 100,000 in the United States, 9,000 pieces of real estate were sold to pay the taxes that provide the basic cost for the police. That was the biggest rip-off in that community, the loss of 9,000 pieces of real estate to pay the various tax-supported agencies including the police.
If you were to go to this community and add on to the police department the numbers of personnel required to perform an adequate job, you’d end up confiscating all the rest of the real estate and you’d shut the town down. You have a system here that is so bad that as you improve it, it gets worse. Let’s see what else you have in Town A.
The police department, ladies and gentlemen, is the best advertised of any governmental agency. There will be no newspaper issued that will not recite their exploits. If you watch television, every major television station will have at least one drama every day in which the police are the heroes. And they are handsome and they are loving and they are kind and they are good. They are trustworthy, loyal, friendly, helpful, courteous, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. And they get their man and we love them. And that goes on day after day and in color and in your living room. So you are exposed to that. So we know about the police. They have, what we would call, a high profile. You know about them. They are there. And the result? Let me tell you. You pay a lot of taxes for them and you know that, too. You’re convinced the police are there; you’re paying for it; you hear about the police all the time.
OUR PROFESSION IS UNDERSTAFFED
So what do you do? Well, I’ll tell you what you do. You go to bed one night without locking your front door. And you get up in the morning and you don’t even know the door’s been unlocked until you start to leave for work. You go to the door and, my gosh, it was unlocked all night. You start out and there is your car at the curb. You planned to put it in the garage but the kid’s tricycle was in the driveway so you pulled in front. You were going to go back later but you didn’t; you forgot. So, okay, at least the car’s there. So you walk down and as you get to it, you’re feeling in your pockets and you can’t find your keys. And you look at the car and dangling from the ignition are all your keys. You pulled them out a little to break that noise because it bothers you. And your keys have been in the ignition in front of your house all night and nothinghappened. And you say, “It’s a good thing we’ve got the cops because if it weren’t for them, I sure would have been ripped off.” That is exactly what happens. You begin to live in a fool’s paradise. You think you are safe.
I have an article written by a burglar who wrote the item while he was serving time in the Missouri State Penitentiary. More on that, if you’re interested.
I’ll tell you how he happened to get there. He got there by design. And he says, “If you haven’t been ripped off recently, don’t credit the police.” He says the reason is: “Our profession is understaffed.” He says the American people are simply inviting the burglars and “We don’t have enough people to take care of the opportunities.” But he says “Don’t worry. We’ll get around to you in time. Our fellows are working nights.” You know, trying to catch up. So obviously the burglar knows what he is talking about. He’s a pro. He says that a professional burglar rarely has to break in.
You don’t break. You just walk around and try the doors. And about one in five will be unlocked. So you open it and walk in. You don’t ring the bell; you walk in and when you get inside you say, “Hi, Maude. I’mhere.” And you wait. The likelihood of Maude being there is very remote because probably there is no Maude. You pick a name like that, you see. There aren’t many Maudes anyway but the likelihood of Maude being there is very remote. But what if somebody is home? They come to the door. And here’s a strange manstanding just inside the door. And the first thing the crook says is, “Where’s Maude?”
The lady of the house says, “There’s no Maude here.”
He says, “Well, where is she? When is she coming back?”
“Well, no Maude lives here.”
“Oh, really? Maude Jones?”
“Well, ma’am, excuse me, but isn’t this 122 Maple Street?”
“No, this is 122 Elm.”
“Oh, I beg your pardon. I’ve been away for a year. I used to live in this neighborhood and I moved away a long time ago. And I’ve got the streets mixed up. I hope I didn’t startle you. Excuse me, please.” He leaves. Do you think that’s going to be reported as a crime?
This is how it’s done. But what if nobody’s home? Ha. This man is a pro. He knows where your stuff is. First thing he does, he gets one of your suitcases. He doesn’t carry one. He knows where you’re going to keep yours so he takes that, zip, zip, zip. He gets stuff in it and he goes sauntering out of the house. And if anyone asks him, he’s going to meet you. You forgot something. He’s got your bag to prove it. You really think he’s going to be caught? Nobody was there. He made sure of that to begin with. How does he make sure?
Do you know what a crook can do? He goes down to the local police station, provides a card showing that he’s a member of a national writers association and says he’s doing an article studying police methods. And he’d like to bone up on the police methods that are employed in the local town. He’d like to ride around in the black-and-whites, get to know the officers, and see just what they do. They’ll tell him. They’d better; he’s a taxpayer, isn’t he? He learns all about how the locals work. I’m speaking of a pro. I’m not talking about amateurs now; they get into trouble. The pros know what to do. They meet the policemen. They find out what the police beats are. They know where the cars are. They time it. They know how long it will take for a radio response. And you wonder why the police are only 20 percent effective? I marvel they get results at all. What they catch is the amateur who doesn’t know how to do it. Well, this burglar explains this.
Of course, once in a while he would get greedy enough so he would break in. And he told about one place where he thought the pickings would be good enough to warrant breaking in because the story was that there were plenty of goodies inside. But when he went to the house in a very nice neighborhood he discovered that the people inside had anticipated that somebody might show up. And guess what they had done?
They had put bars on all the windows, ornamental bars, quite attractive, but they were there. Now, you know that’s an interesting point. We seem to have complete confidence that after a man has committed a crime we can arrest him, put him behind bars, and he can’t get through them. It’s true. But if you put the bars in front of him, he can’t get through them, either. And if he doesn’t get through them, then he can’t commit the crime. So the same process will prevent the crime rather than trying to take care of it after thefact. These people had anticipated that so he couldn’t get through the windows.
He checked the door. The average door on the average house can be opened with a credit card. And everybody has one of those, at least one. Most doors don’t have good locks. That is, they have the convenient lock which is the night latch. But you can buy for a relatively few dollars a good bolt action lock. If you’re worried, buy two and put them on the same door. If you’re really worried, buy four and put them on the hinge side as well as the latch side and one top and bottom.
And then, if you really want to be sure, you know most doors are just plywood with air between and you can get through both of them with your fist. Put on a glove and “bing” you’re right through. But for a very small amount of money if you have any mechanical ability, take down your doors, take off the top strip of wood, and you can buy these metal rods that are used to reinforce concrete, and you weave that into a network, a grid, and stick it in your door. Then go to the sawmill and have them blow sawdust mixed with glue in there and fill it up. And if anybody hits that door with his fist, he’s going to break his arm. Put that in.It’s going to look exactly as it did before. It looks like a plywood door. And heaven help the man who runs intoit because whatever contacts it is going to be hurt. And now you put it up with good locks and nobody’s going through it. Well, that’s exactly what this burglar found. These people had fixed their doors. He couldn’t get through the doors and he couldn’t get through the windows but there was still a chance.
It was a two-story house and the window on the landing halfway up didn’t have bars. So he stashed a box in the alley. A ladder, you know, would have been too much of a giveaway. And a box was just about the right size. So he waited until he saw his victims leave. He got his box, stood under the window: it was just the right height so he could reach the window. And he’d come prepared. I perhaps ought to charge an added fee for some of this information. Anyway, you take masking tape and you put a couple of strips, zip, zip,across the glass leaving a loose part in the middle so you can control the glass. You have a glass cutter, zip, zip. You take out the glass—doesn’t make any noise—set it down and now the crook is ready to crawl in.
He started through the window and looked up. He was at a landing as he had anticipated. At the top of the stairs a pair of cat’s eyes were looking at him in the dark. The only trouble was they were eight inches apart. His first thought was. Well, what do you know? A pair of one-eyed cats. He had a little pocket flashlight, turned it on, and there was a black panther looking at him. The panther was chained, he said. He wasn’t and left. Now, that’s protection.
NOBODY’S BEING PROTECTED
I’m not trying to boost the stock of black panthers. The fact is that these people had realized they didn’t have any safety with the police and so they had done what seemed intelligent to them. They had successfully turned aside a professional. But you don’t have to go to this extreme. You can accomplish the same objective if you use your head. And for goodness sakes, don’t expect the police to protect you because they’re not going to.
A friend of mine used to travel a good deal and left his wife behind. One day she was at home in her house. She was upstairs but the phone was at the foot of the stairs and the downstairs was dark. The phone rang and she went down the stairs to answer it. Looking through the darkened room and out of the window, she saw a man sneaking up onto her porch. Well, it was a friend calling on the phone so she said, very quietly, “You’ll have to get off the line. I’ll have to call you back. I’m scared.” She got her friend off the line and called the police. She identified herself, “I’m Mrs. So-and-so at such-and-such an address. I’m alone in my home and there’s a man sneaking up on my front porch.”
Now, what do you think the sergeant on duty said? “What is he doing now?”
She said, “I can’t see him now and I’m afraid to go out and look.”
The sergeant said, “Has he broken in yet?”
She said, “No, he hasn’t but he could do it any minute.”
“Well,” he said, “Ma’am, if he hasn’t broken in, maybe he won’t.”
She said, “That’s true but maybe he will.”
He said, “Well, ma’am, I’m terribly sorry but I’m alone here at the station. I don’t have anybody I can send out. I’ll tell you what you do. Keep a watch on him and if anything happens call me back.”
The policeman was doing his duty. He was telling the truth. He was alone. He couldn’t shut down the police station. What were the other policemen doing? They were following up after other crimes that had been committed. Nobody’s being protected. This woman wasn’t protected. But we get so confused we think that’s protection.
PLAYED BY THE RULES
Oh, there’s one other thing, a tremendously important point.
In Town A, ladies and gentlemen, the police operate according to the rules. And the crooks know the rules as well as the police. So the crooks can predict exactly what the police will do. Their whole scene is laid out for them in advance. Indeed, if a policeman attempts to do something that is contrary to what the rules are, the crook will back him off and say, “Now wait a minute. You can’t do that. I know my rights,” etc.
And the policeman must back away. So there is predictability on the side of the crook. The criminal knows what the police are going to do. He can find out where they’re going to be. He knows what his odds are. His chances of getting away with an undetected crime are overwhelmingly in his favor. And, of course, he gets away with it.
I was going to tell about this fellow who got arrested whose article I was quoting. He tried to get arrested. The reason: he had a friend in the Missouri State Penitentiary who had some information and he wanted it. But when he went in on visiting days, the man was sure that the area was bugged and hewouldn’t talk. The only way this fellow could get the information was to get locked up. So he began to perform his burglaries in a sloppy way, hoping he’d get arrested but the police couldn’t catch him. So even when he was leaving a trail for them, they couldn’t find him. He finally decided to take events into his own hands and he went downtown carrying a rock in his pocket. And he finally got a policeman’s attention by acting sort of weird. When he was sure the policeman was watching, he went up to a jewelry store and threw the rock through the window and stood there and got arrested. When his case came up, the policeman was actually a witness on his side. He said to the judge, “You know, your honor, I never had a more cooperative prisoner. This man didn’t try to run away and he didn’t try to resist arrest and he didn’t try to steal anything. He just broke the window.”
And the judge said, “Do you realize that you wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t broken that window?”
“Yes, Your Honor, I realize that.”
So the judge said, “Well, you’re certainly cooperative.” So he sent him up for sixty days, which is what he wanted. He had a bad tooth and he wanted to get some bridge work done. Of course, that’s done at the taxpayer’s expense and he got free room and board. He got to brush elbows with some of the hardened criminals. He sharpened his techniques…this is where you get your graduate work done if you’re a criminal. He went to prison and then, on top of that, got to talk to his buddy. That’s where he wrote the article. He’d already entered into a contract with Reader’s Digest that agreed to pay him $1,000 if he was a professional burglar and he would write the article while he was in prison. So he did. So he made $1,000, got his teeth fixed, got free room and board, everything done at your expense. How good can it get? I mean, this is; the way things are arranged for the burglar.
THE UNPREDICTABLE TOWN
Now let’s switch over to Town B. Town B is the same as Town A except it doesn’t have all of these things we’ve been talking about. I’ll tell what else it doesn’t have. The people in Town B don’t pay taxes and they don’t have illusions. They don’t live in a fool’s paradise.
What do they do? I don’t know what they do and neither does anybody else. They are unpredictable. I suspect that quite a few of them wouldn’t do anything but I don’t know which ones. Some of them, of course, would take out an insurance policy, which is available now to reimburse them. That wouldn’t prevent the crime but, at least, the victim can get something back.
Which is more than you’ll get from the police unless they get awfully lucky. I think quite a few in Town B would buy insurance. Then there would be some who’d get better locks on their doors—maybe put bars on the windows.
There would also be people in that town who would be truly frightened and would want to make themselves very safe. They might do some astonishing things like the man in Iowa who booby-trapped a farmhouse he wasn’t using with a sawed-off shotgun. And lo and behold, a burglar tried to break in. The shotgun went off but the burglar took the case to court and won a $30,000 judgment against his victim. Of course, that couldn’t happen in Town B because, without legal restraint, you could booby-trap your house with a shotgun. Now I wouldn’t recommend that. But the burglar doesn’t know that much about me.
I go along with the old Quaker. You remember the story. He was asleep one night and he thought he heard a burglar downstairs. So he took his shotgun off the wall, went creeping down, turned on the light and, sure enough, there was a burglar. So he aimed the gun at the burglar and said, “Friend, I would not injure thee for the world. But thou art standing in the space into which I’m about to shoot.” And the burglar left. The Quaker told a lie. He wouldn’t have shot, I’m sure. Or am I? You see, that’s the point.
If we can get the crooks off balance, they wouldn’t know what you’re going to do. So when he comes to my house, the burglar doesn’t know whether I’m a Quaker or whether I’m the Count de Sade. Maybe I have a little throw rug in front of my door over a trapdoor. And I have a timer so that if you stand there for seventeen seconds, it opens and you fall down into a pit of quicklime. There is nothing in Town B to prevent that because there’s no government telling you how to protect yourself. You could do it your way. I wouldn’trecommend that, either. You’re apt to lose a postman that way. Of course, I can think of some postmen…no…I still wouldn’t recommend it. I’m only pointing out that there would be nothing to stop it.
In other words…think about it for a minute. If you went to Town A, everything is arranged for you. If you go to Town B, you know there could be land mines in the lawn.
In San Francisco right now, there’s a jewelry store that prevented burglars from breaking the windows by a very handy device. They keep a tarantula in the window. Nobody breaks the glass. Well, it’s a friendly tarantula. It’s also as big as my hand and it’s a nice high-type tarantula. How would you like to have a nice high-type tarantula jump on you? They jump, you know.
I have a picture of a man protecting his van. He keeps a boa constrictor in the cab with him. It’s a friendly boa constrictor. How would you like to be affectionately treated by a friendly boa constrictor? Nobody steals his cab. And I’ve got magazines here full of devices that you can put on your own property and use to protect your own person. And, people, that’s what would happen in Town B. Because there would be nothing to restrain the property owner or the individual. Think about it for a minute and decide.
If you were a burglar, where would you go? If you went to Town A, you can predict everything that’s going to be arrayed against you. And if you go to Town B, you could disappear and there wouldn’t even be an inquiry.
Again, I suggest to you that if you want to solve your problems, take it out of the hands of government. Does government protection protect? It doesn’t do anything of the sort. It takes vengeance in your name after you’ve been hurt and calls it protection. But firm in the center of the system is your prior injury. You’ve got to be injured by the tax collector. And then you’re going to be injured by the crook in addition before the government will stir itself. Then the tax collector injures you again. That’s not good enough. I want to be safe and I think you do, too. And the answer is pull the job away from government.
Ladies and gentlemen, if the government can’t protect you, will you kindly tell me what you want it for? Thank you very much.
**** QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ****
Q: In Town B, would there be Martial Law or civil war?
A: Only if the people there decide that they want to deal in vengeance. Then either could occur, and that would be no gain. In other words, you could set up private protection as long as you limit the action to provide procedures. It is when you begin to decide that you have to go in and violate the boundaries of the party that’s already been wronged that you get into government. So if you could set up private protection without vengeance, you’re on the target. If you can’t, you’re right back where you are now.
Q: With your friend with the tool box, wouldn’t it have been a very simple thing to say, “Okay, burglar, if this is your tool box describe its contents. And I will describe its contents and by identification I can prove what’s mine and what’s not.”
A: I would think so.
Q: That would seem logical.
A: I would think so but that’s not what happened. So, sometimes under pressure…incidentally, this fellow’s a pretty sharp guy. But sometimes you get excited.
Q: How about when the government is the criminal?
A: Well, it was implied. Of course, I agree. You don’t really have to make a separate category. The government really can’t act unless it is engaged in violating boundaries because it has nothing else to do.
Q: Returning to Town B, you’ve done away with the court system and you no longer have the arbitrator. That raises the age-old question of who settles disputes.
A: Well, whoever wants to, I would think. You know, when it comes to settling a dispute there are only four possible outcomes. You win, you lose, you compromise, or you keep fighting. That’s all that can happen. And it really doesn’t take an elaborate system to establish that. Now, there have been a lot of studies in this area. Actually, your question is deep enough to take an evening. But may I say that I have found, and I’ve done this myself, I’ve served as an arbitrator in a couple of disputes this way. And it has worked beautifully. As a private citizen, the plaintiff and the defendant come to me and here’s how I’ve done it. I let the plaintiff tell me about the wrong. And I give him all the time in the world and he can keep talking as long as he wants to and I don’t care how often he repeats himself. He can call the defendant every name in the book. The defendant has to sit there and take it. In this connection, by the way, it’s good if you have an additionalaudience. Let the plaintiff run on, but you’ve got to be patient. Let him go the distance. When he’s said it all, then you ask him to be still and you turn to the defendant and ask him to have his say. And he says it, and let him go without any interruption however long it takes. When he’s through, go back to your plaintiff and let him do it again. When he’s through, go back to the defendant. Never interrupt. Let him say it all. Let them finish. If you keep that up, you will discover a very interesting thing. The periods of tirade get less and less vituperative and briefer and briefer. In process, this has happened whenever I’ve been involved. All of a sudden, in the midst of one of these recitations, one of the disputants says, “Wait a minute. I see. I’m at fault.” He sees and everybody else sees it. The problem becomes visible and then the thing is settled.
Q: But I’m the biggest guy in the bar and I don’t want to go to you.
- Then don’t.
- Then who intercepts my blow?
A: No one, unless someone dislikes you enough to shoot you. And, of course, in Town B that could happen.
Q: I’ve never been there.
A: I’ve never been there, either. What I think you are asking is the conventional question. It’s a good question but it needs more examination than we have time for here. The point is how do you deal after the crime has happened. I’ve shown you how to reduce the incidence of it. I have never said you could eliminate it. I don’t know how to eliminate it. I can reduce the incidence by getting government out of the way. There are other things that can be done. That’s a study in itself. We can go a lot further and there are things you can do without trying to get the guilty party and make him suffer. That’s an old barbaric idea, and as relatively civilized men, I hope, you should put that aside.
Q: But there’s a point at which protection becomes aggression. If I’m stationed in my living room and I aim a shotgun at everyone who looks funny in my picture window, then that’s protection if you’re eliminating all protection cohesion.
A: Correct, correct. And I didn’t get into defense and I didn’t get into a lot of other things because of the time element. It’s a broad subject but nonetheless protection can occur in such a way that the costs of protection are limited to the party protecting himself. And they need not go beyond that. There are many things that people call protection that I wouldn’t myself use. But I know I have no power to prevent them from doing it just as I have no power to prevent anyone from committing a crime if he wants to. What I can do is to raise the cost to him of committing a crime against me so he won’t do it. I’m happy about that. Let me just say this one further thing. I have a limited competence and so does everyone else. I can feed myself and my family, though not perfectly. I’ve missed a few meals in my life. But I do a pretty good job. However, there’s no way I can feed society. I can clothe myself and my family. I can house myself and my family. I can provide a certain number of comforts and conveniences for myself and my family. There’s no way I can do that for society. I can protect myself and my family and I can protect my property and myself. I can’t do it for society. I can handle it within the area of my competence and most people can. Those who have anything worth protecting can.
QUESTION OF COST AND EFFECTIVENESS
Q: I’ve had this question before and I’ve never gotten a fully satisfactory answer out of you, but I’mgoing to try again. Okay, Town B. Let’s assume that in Town B we have people who accept, an ethical base, the idea that they’re not going to use force in retaliation. If they can build a better lock, fine, they’ll build it, an impenetrable house with bars, fine. But once you get in there, they’re not going to use force against you. Okay, it’s my supposition that there’s no wall so thick that someone can’t come up with an explosive to break through.
A: I agree.
Q: Okay, it’s simply a matter of cost-effectiveness at that point. And, obviously, there’s a point beyond which crime does not pay. Okay, but beyond that, doesn’t every other one of these protective methods imply the threat of force in retaliation?
A: It doesn’t have to. Often the first argument offered against my position is that private protection works as well as it does because the police are there to back it up. That isn’t the case. For instance, when a private alarm is installed which turns in a signal at the police station, it has proven to be ineffective. A very loud alarm which the criminal can hear has been far more effective. The police take a long time to respond. Further, they often come with sirens so the criminal can hear them a mile away. But few criminals can do their best work with a very loud sound or siren wailing in their ears. But again, you are not thinking “protection.” You are responding AFTER the fact. Protection, when it works, prevents the fact.
Q: Most criminals, though, as I understand the analyses they’ve done lately on why people become criminals. One of many things is very short-term thinking. Okay, in other words, not thinking of the consequences beyond the next moment.
Q: The analytic sort of thing.
A: I think that’s true of amateur criminals but I don’t think it’s true of the pros.
Q: I think that the pros are in a minority. I think that as we say a good deal of crime is increased at the moment. Someone is desperate or something like this to increase this sort of criminal.
A: Well, for the amateur, relatively unsophisticated methods are very good protection. For the pro, you have to be more professional yourself in protecting yourself, but right here you are going to meet the point where the pro experiences a no-return situation. You could raise the cost to him and he’s intelligent enough to go elsewhere.
Q: Okay, I can accept this all down the line. In other words, for your individual unorganized, even professional criminal, it seems to me that, given a market situation, it’s going to be a known situation. Okay, we come essentially to an organized assault where a gang like a raider-gang or government…
A: You mean government comes in? Yes, I admit this. If you have a government acting…I’m helpless before that.
Q: You see in this case only a counter-threat…
A: No. no. no. I don’t think a counter-threat is going to be any more effective than a surrender. In fact, sometimes a surrender is more effective. The bullet doesn’t care whether you’re shooting aggressively or defensively. So you reduce the casualties as much as you can. In cases of this sort I’m a professional coward. When I’m faced with superior forces I analyze it quickly and say to my opponent, “You won! Let’s assume that you’ve beaten me. I surrender. Where do you want me to fall?”
Q: But you’re assuming superior force.
A: Yes, it happens very quickly at my age. It’s easy to assume. Incidentally, I stopped a riot one time with just that procedure. Because I was confronted by some people who thought they might like to have a riot and they wanted to know what I would do. And I said I would run away. If they wanted a physical contest with me, they would win. So why would I fight when I know I’m going to lose? That’s an absurdity. So knowing I would lose, I wouldn’t fight.
Q: If you know you will lose, then your response is logical. If however…
A: With me, it’s logical. The consequences. That has made me safer than going around with my dukes up ready to fight. I tried both when I was younger and I got into more fights when I was trying to defend myself. I stopped doing that and the fights stopped. So you can’t tell. The guy who walks around like this and says I’m defending myself looks just as if he’s going to attack you.
Q: We also have the martial experts…who are very calm and serene and don’t do a damn thing until the actual force is present.
A: And I don’t do anything. And I tell them I’m not a martial arts expert. If they blow on me, I’ll fall down.
A QUESTION OF EDUCATION
Q: If we assume that Town B is a place where it’s going to work, I don’t get any feeling of this practical transition from a Town A situation to a Town B situation. And additionally, we’re not talking about isolated towns of 100.000 people. We’re talking of a nation of 3 billion people. I don’t get a feeling of the practical…
A: Well, very good. Let me respond…
Q: …in a society as complex as we have.
A: Obviously, we’re not comprised of a series of 100,000 towns. But you can begin the transition right where you are by realizing the police, whatever their intentions may be, are not protecting you and you can undertake your own protection. That’s the beginning of the transition. As you do this and more and more people will join in—and it is beginning—the crime rate will come down. In fact, that is beginning. We are beginning to whip it by this method. As that occurs, and the knowledge spreads, we can begin to get rid of these areas that aren’t needed. Of course, from my point of view, we don’t need any of them, but I realize that it is all a matter of personal education. And that’s going to take a long time. In the final analysis, it is amatter of education.
Q: By whom? Who does the educating?
A: Well, step one is followed by step two. And step two is more education. Who is going to educate? Anybody who has information to impart and that includes you and everybody else. We inform each other. You don’t have to have formal classrooms or lecture situations in order to be educated. You are educated every day of your life with all the things that you do and all the contacts you make. And when you understand that, you understand that as a parent you are a natural educator of your children. As a memberof a club, you are an educator of the people in the club. As an employee or employer in a business, you are a natural educator of your co-workers. And so on. These are natural arrangements. You communicate, you explain, and we all do this. And gradually we all make progress. You can’t do it overnight. But you begin where you are and you do what you have the competence to do. You can’t do more than that anyway. So you do what you can.
Q: In the practical sense, these things start happening and people see what exists is not working and they have to choose some alternative. And the plan springs from that so then you go up and down each housing tract. In Palm Springs, for example, you will see little signs in front of each house. There are three or four different security forces that these people have contracted with because the city police force doesn’t seem to be doing an adequate job. They have also contracted for burglar alarms and other types of self-protection. So that as people discover what they think is supposed to work doesn’t, they will have to turn to some other alternative. And eventually, perhaps, they’ll just decide to eliminate the police forces entirely.
A: Thank you.
Q: One thing that works with problems like that is neighbors. Like, when we moved into a house the next door neighbor didn’t know us or recognize us so she called the police. She saw furniture and didn’t know if we were moving it out or what. It was embarrassing but with neighbors like that something can be very effective.
A: We have that where we are. In our neighborhood we all watch; we happen to live in a cul-de-sac. Everybody watches every strange vehicle that comes in here…
Q: Maybe there’s a Town C. Instead of individual protection like a medieval Dark Ages situation, in Town C you could have people watching out for one another the way it was before we got to Town A.
A: Very good, yes, indeed. And I don’t think that with our current technology we have to go back to a medieval situation and have a fortress. You know, for the amount of taxes that you spend in one year, if you had that money you could convert your home into a perfectly safe refuge. Your expenditures would be over. For example, you could put in sliding steel panels that disappear in the wall and operate like the windows on your car. With a key, you’d activate it. And these are ornamental panels with holes cut in them so ventilation can continue. They can slide across in steel grooves behind every door and window in your house. You can activate it from inside or outside. And it becomes easier to go through a wall than a door. That’s relatively inexpensive. Relatively. It costs something but, compared to taxes, you do it once and have your home equipped. Nobody would even know the system was there. Until you used it, of course. So there are so many things that can be done. But I agree. You can work with your neighbors and join forces with them. And it’s a wonderful idea. The police themselves have acknowledged that it is the upsurge of private protection that is helping to reduce the crime rate. And the police acknowledge it isn’t their job to prevent crime. Their job is to enforce the law. If you want to prevent crime, you have to prevent it. And they are now saying this. Of course, I’ve been saying it for twenty years. But it takes about twenty years. Talk about education. You just keep on.
Q: What happened in 1972 to reduce the crime rate?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Do you think it was due to private protection?
A: This is what I’m not being told. There was a tremendous upsurge that year in the purchase of private protective devices, but what caused that, I don’t know. Why did the people suddenly decide…Gosh, this stuff’s been around longer than that. But somehow in 1972, there was such an upsurge that it really did cut down. Of course, it came back later.
Q: Maybe I should share this, Bob, because wasn’t our friend Nixon in office then? Perhaps the burglars were watching about Watergate.
A: Or maybe they were employed by Nixon. I’m not angry with Mister Nixon or Mister Carter. You know, people, it doesn’t pay you to get angry. It pays you to protect your own life and property. That you can do.
Q: (Lawrence Samuels) I just want to mention one thing. In case you are thinking about some more questions, we have just a little more time. In our publication, which I hope you’ve taken and eventually someday you may get through the mail, we have an article. You probably saw it in Associated Press. It’s in Robin, Ill., where they fired the whole police department of that city. And some of the crimes against them were armed robbery, car theft, and burglary. This is not too far from Chicago, I believe. They had fired the whole police department before, about seven years earlier. But it’s Associated Press’ report. We do take them out of there and you might find it interesting in our publication. I thought it was appropriate for this speech and that’s why I had it in there. Also, one other thing I’d like to mention. There’s one time, I don’t know if you remember, where one town, a pretty good size town, where the policemen went on strike. And all of a sudden, serious crimes dropped because they didn’t want to confront angry citizens. Because the police would step in there and take them to court or take them to jail. Citizens, on the other hand, just might shoot the criminal. And so crimes declined drastically.
A: We’ve also had the other experience. I don’t mean to contradict you at all because I do recall the instance, but somebody’s going to put this all together so let me do it for you. Quite recently, during the blackout in New York and on other occasions when there has been a sudden cessation of police activity, you have seen an upsurge in crime. Yes?
Q: But, Bob, I have to say that’s not necessarily because of lessening of police protection. Because, the first blackout in New York the crime rate went down.
A: The birthrate went up, right. It went the other way. I agree, I agree, I’m trying to make the point. I’m on your side. The thing is that in these instances that are sometimes brought forward to prove we have to have police, you are talking about a notification to the criminal world, in fact, that nobody’s going to protect anything. And that’s going to bring the criminal out. Now, if you serve notice at the same time, the police aren’t going to be around, but private persons will. Then you achieve the point that Larry has made. In the case I’ve just brought to the fore, there was a virtual invitation made to the crook. The police weren’t going to be there. Nobody was going to protect anything. The burglars couldn’t have had a better invitation.
Okay, I think it’s time for one thing we’re going to have. He doesn’t know this is happening.
But we decided since Robert LeFevre has been giving us so much help for these speeches and helping us get out his last speech and so forth that we decided to give him an award.
Really, this is the first time Ken has seen this. He’s supposed to give the award. So maybe you can say something. It’s called the Libertas Award and also we have Dave (Moore) over here to get some shots of it and give you a photo of it. So I’d like Ken to present Robert LeFevre with our Libertas Award. This is our first one. Dave, are you ready with the camera?
I remember a few years ago I presented a similar award to R. C. Hoiles but it was a “Sons of Liberty” Medallion and I could hang it around his neck, which I did at a conference at Long Beach State. But I will read this one. It says: “Libertas Award. The Society of Libertarian Life wishes to express its deep appreciation and gratitude to Robert LeFevre for his time and energy in behalf of SLL and in the cause of liberty. Presented at Santa Ana College, May 19, 1978.
THE LEGEND OF SOCIETY FOR LIBERTARIAN LIFE
It’s no mystery. Legends are made; they don’t just happen. It’s hard work and it takes courage to advance against almost insurmountable odds. But Society for Libertarian Life (SLL) met the challenge and the world hasn’t been the same since.
It was a meager beginning in early 1973. Lawrence Samuels, an art student, organized a non-credited experimental college course on the fundamentals of libertarianism at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). The first day was a big success—five students showed up and enrolled. Society for Libertarian Life was on its way. A legend was in the making.
At the conclusion of the semester, SLL began publishing a small journal entitled Libertarian New Horizon. It was issued under the name of Students for a Libertarian Life. Two years later the name was changed so as to include individuals from both the campus and the community. Presently, SLL membership is equally divided between high school/college students and people from the community at large.
The first years were painful and difficult for SLL. Very few persons understood libertarianism, let alone pronounce the word. Others confused libertarianism with “liberation” or something to do with “librarians.” Still others tried to associate libertarians with either reactionary conservatives or radical leftists. Those who strongly opposed libertarianism, merely shrugged it off as soon-to-be-forgotten fad. Little did they know the extent of the libertarian movement and SLL.
The second major activity of SLL was to sponsor a speech by self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist, Liz Keathley, who captured the Peace & Freedom Party (PFP) gubernatorial candidacy in 1974 (Calif.) from the socialist faction. More than 100 students attended the speech at Cal State Fullerton.
That same year, libertarians under Eric Garris and Jean Berkman captured the state PFP while SLL members won control of the Orange County PFP central committee, proceeding to shut it down (made headlines in LA. Times).
The first major venture by SLL was a speech by former Progressive Labor Party leader Phillip Abbott Luce. In a very cunning move. SLL members joined the CSUF Economics Association and voted to fund Luce’s speech on campus. The speech drew 60 students and strong criticism from campus faculty. Luce had attacked public education, advocating the demise of tax-supported education. The uproar in faculty circles was extensive, especially since, as some faculty members pointed out, Luce’s speech was funded by the university.
A new direction was taken in 1976 as SLL began operating lectures and activities on other campuses and in the community. In early 1976, SLL sponsored Dr. Nathaniel Branden at Fullerton College. More than 300 persons attended. That same year SLL sponsored Prof. Tibor Machan at CSUF and Cypress College, premiered the film The Incredible Bread Machine, and staged an anti-tax protest demonstration at the federal building in Santa Ana, California. Karl Bray was to be the keynote speaker, but was detained by the federal government.
In October of 1977, SLL co-sponsored with the Cato Institute two lectures by Prof. Murray Rothbard at the University of California, Irvine. “The Economic Future” was the title with around 50 students attending the daytime lecture and some 200 attending the evening lecture.
In early 1977 Hospers gave a speech at Fullerton College on Will Freedom Survive Until 1984? The speech was covered by the L.A. Times and later incorporated into a magazine article (Californian Journal,July edition, titled “Libertarians, GOP successor or philosophical study group?”). Almost 100 persons attended the lecture a reception was held afterward.
Karl Bray was one of the most beloved libertarians in the movement. He died at an early age in Florida (May 12, 1978). Bray gave a lecture to SLL members on June 9, 1976 on taxes and libertarianism. A former Utah radio commentator, he spoke to SLL a few months after being released from federal prison after serving a six-month sentence. He was jailed for possessing an IRS note known as a seizure notice. The notice is available to any citizen under the Freedom of Information Act.
Warning that Americans must resist taxation, Bray said, “If we don’t resist, we’ll lose by default. You’ll have a greater chance of surviving terminal cancer than national socialism if it comes to the United States.”
Two anti-tax demonstrations and marches were held at IRS offices in 1976 and 1977. A coffin was used in the march with a sign tacked to it reading: Tomb of The Unknown Taxpayer. Dave Bergland, former Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate in 1976, was one of the main speakers, arguing that it was “perfectly possible to have a society without taxes.”
John Matonis, an attorney from Washington D.C. spoke at Santa Ana College in November, 1978 to a crowd of 100. Described as a cross between a fighter like Davy Crockett and the sharp wit of an Abraham Lincoln, John Matonis is one of the leading anti-establishment lawyers in the country.
Mationis has defended tax rebels, laetrile users, fought against vitamin regulations (appeal case) and defended the Scientologists (E-Meter case).
Author of Common Sense Economics, John Pugsley spoke in early 1979 at Santa Ana College. Around 60 persons attended the lecture. At 12 noon on the same day of the Briggs/Garris debate, SLL and Students for a Libertarian Society held an anti-Prop. 6 rally with Ed Clark, Libertarian Party candidate for California governor, as the key speaker at CSUF.
One of the most exciting activities of SLL (1978) was a scheduled debate between Sen. John Briggs and Rev. Eric Garris on Oct. 26 at CSUF. Briggs failed to appear and is currently be sued by SLL’s attorney, David Bergland. Briggs’ office sent down Prof. Kent and Garris debated him in a crowd of 300. One of Briggs’ attorneys, Ward, said that Briggs failed to appear because supposedly SLL leaders told Briggs that he did not really have to make an appearance to debate in favor of his Prop. 6 anti-gay initiative since libertarians believe in voluntarism. No such call was ever made to Senator John Briggs.
The biggest event of SLL was its May 1, 1979 anti-draft demonstrations at Cal State Fullerton, Orange Coast College and Chapman College. More than 200 students with an eight piece rock band named Horizon Street Band made the CSUF demonstration a great success. Front page coverage, TV cameras from NBC and CBS and radio reporters centered on the mass draft-card burning segment of the demonstration.
The Executive Board of SLL in 1979
Lawrence Samuels, National Chair; Kevin Kordes, national Vice-Chair; Paul O’Neil, Executive Board member; Dean Stephens, Treasurer, Barry Turnbull, Recording Secretary; Howard Hinman, Editor; Jim Gallagher, Computer Director; Ray Irvine, Executive Board member; David Lynch, Executive Board member; David Moore, Publicity Director; Pamela Falk, Secretary; Jeff Smith, Executive Board member; Alan Schoff, Executive Board member.
SLL was an affiliate of the CSUF Associated Students and affiliated with Society for Individual Liberty (SIL).
“Ours is a system that
is so bad that as you improve it,
it gets worse.”
“Governments have never really said that they are going to protect us,” Robert LeFevre argued to a large crowd at Santa Ana College (California) on May 19, 1978.
Implying that government offers vengeance and not safety, LeFevre began his two-and-a-half hour lecture by defining protection. “Protected you are safe and nothing happens to you. Governments have provided us with laws of retaliation, not laws of protection.”
LeFevre pointed out that somehow the terms retaliation, restitution and defense have been lumped together with protection. “Retaliation (or governmental protection) is made up of punishment…something inflicted by authority”, restitution is “something taken away is restored” and defense is “to curtain (a form of combat),” according to the gray-haired LeFevre. “All of those things are undesirable; what you really want is protection.”
Grasping a copy of the official FBI Crime statistic book, LeFevre began to show evidence that current governmental policing methods offer little or no protection for private citizens. Jotting figures on the blackboard behind him, LeFevre’s interpretation of FBI crime statistics show that “Police are successful only 20 percent of the time.” In 1970, 2,169,300 burglaries were reported, 19 percent were solved, 9 percent were convicted and 3 percent of the criminals served or are still serving time. “Meaning,” LeFevre explained, “if you’re a burglar, you have an 81 percent chance of doing your burglarizing without being caught, a 91 percent chance of not being convicted, and a 97 percent chance of not having to serve out your time. That’s better odds than you can get in Vegas if you own the casino.”
LeFevre stressed that one of the reasons why government protection does not protect is because, “The police are hired to keep an eye on the taxpayers as potential criminals.” In other words, “The government rips people off to get together the money to keep people from getting ripped off.”
LeFevre’s solution to the protection dilemma is to stop paying protection taxes and invest the money into their own protective devices and methods from locks, burglar alarms, private security guards and steel bars. But LeFevre’s basic idea is to get law and order services out from under the control of the ineffective and chaotic public sector. “There is bound to be an increase in crime as long as the legislature is still in session,” LeFevre said in paraphrasing mark Twain. “The government really can’t act unless it is engaged in violating boundaries because it has nothing else to do.”
First published in May, 1979 by Rampart Institute, a non-profit, educational organization dedicated topraxeologcial studies of human nature and action.
Transcriber: Antoinette Brenion
Layout, design, bookcover: Lawrence Samuels
Proofreader: Pamela Falk
Photographer: (Libertas Award) David Moore
Photographer: Alan Schoff
Recorder (taping): Kevin Kordes
© Rampart Institute
This booklet was re-published by Freeland Press, P.O. Box 22231, Carmel, CA 93922. Many of the ideas expressed in this booklet can be found in Robert LeFevre’s magnum opus book, Fundamentals of Liberty, which is available at www.lksamuels.com. Considered the definitive work on the nature of liberty, The Fundamentals of Liberty is a combination of over 25 years of work as a lecturer, author and president of Rampart College. The book took five years to complete and was finished only a few weeks before LeFevre’s death in 1986.
Lawrence Samuels worked closely with Robert LeFevre, becoming the primary founder and later president of Rampart Institute under its 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status. His book In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action was published in 2013 (available at www.lksamuels.com).