Public/Private partnership

Tam links to an interesting article about where the author considers the question of why we as a society don’t view public safety as a Do-It-Yourself endeavor.

Today we listen, watch, and are entertained not by ourselves or our peers but by people who get paid to do those things: the professionals. I’m sure you can think of other examples from your own experience. Is it any surprise, then, that people delegate their safety to professionals rather than learn why they need to do it themselves?

Tam asks if a current movement will change that.

One wonders what the burgeoning DIY fad, with people tackling everything from beer-making to chicken-raising as a home endeavor, will have on this?

You know, I like the concept. I like the fact that I can go to the store and buy whatever I want, yet I can plant a garden and grow my own if I like. If the garden fails, the market is still there. If the market somehow runs out, I’ve got some food in the garden to tide me over. I am unlikely to grow enough to sustain me independently, but at least I could have options.

Self-defense is like that. I can always call 911 and they’ll do their best to send me someone to help me out. He’s trained, armed with decent weapons, and has a bunch of friends who will arrive right after him. But I’ve also got a gun of my own. I can choose to use that gun to bridge the time gap between RIGHT NOW and when the cavalry arrives. If the cavalry is otherwise occupied, I may be waiting a little while. But if they’re quick to arrive, they might handle problems for me.

The major benefit of having professional public safety officials on 24 hour speed dial is that I don’t have to be armed like a Marine infantry platoon and live in a bunker. I can live in an ordinary house, with those big breakable windows and doors that (at least according to cop dramas) can be kicked in pretty easily. I don’t have to live in a medieval castle and hire full time security just to have a basic level of safety. The police exist to allow you and I to live in ways that would be unthinkable 800 years ago in Europe, and impossible in many countries today.

2 responses to “Public/Private partnership

  1. I think one has to temper one’s acceptance of assistance from “professional public safety officials” regarding criminal-driven events with the knowledge that, on increasingly frequent occasions, such assistance is a bigger threat than the criminal for whom one is seeking “professional” assistance. The cost of using the cops may be substantially higher than the tax burden; certainly not always, but often enough that prudence is warranted.

    As for relying on the market for food if one’s individual efforts aren’t successful, at some point the market will adjust to accommodate the increase in user-produced volume, reducing market-available quantities.

  2. That is a fair point about the dangers, but I think the same goes for gun battles. They aren’t things one wishes to participate in, but we do because the alternatives are worse. Better to shoot back and hope for the best than stand there like a lump and get murdered. Same thing with cops. Better to call them and hope for the best. Cops are more predictable than criminals. There are also things you can practice which will increase your odds of survival when dealing with them.

    As for markers adjusting to private production of fruits and vegetables, I think that’s already priced into the market. I also don’t think that we will even have enough people willing to defend themselves that we ever call for fewer cops. I think that so many people are so wedded to the idea of “more cops, more fireman” that they don’t stop to think of how many we need vs. how many we want. It would be nice, but I think it will be a very tough sell.