Wednesday, December 28, 2016

We Don't Need Costumed Overlords and Tax Farmers

Gone, but not missed: The former Bunker Hill, Indiana Police Department.

Bunker Hill
, Indiana, is a village of 900 people. It has not been consumed by the maelstrom of criminal violence that – we are told – would descend on any community even briefly deprived of the divine protection offered by a police department. The village obviously didn’t need the department it had until December 12, when the Town Marshal and his four reserve deputies walked off the job to protest decisions by the town board. 

“We have had issues with the town board, and there are some activities there where I felt like they were serving their own agenda,” former Marshal Michael Thomison explained. Most of his complaints had to do with proposed budget cut-backs, and a refusal on the part of the council to purchase body armor for all five members of the department. 

“I did not want to send someone out there with bad body armor,” grouses Thomison. “I told them we have to provide this…. They were just not receptive to having a police department.”

It’s just no fun to play dress-up and swagger around the village unless the kids get the full costume and all of the accessories. The historical resonance of the village’s name notwithstanding, Thomison and his buddies were not under siege by heavily armed adversaries, nor was there any realistic expectation that they ever would be.

Crime is practically non-existent in Bunker Hill – the most recent report lists one violent and ten property crimes – and the village is fifteen minutes away from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office in the county seat of Peru (a deranged cartographer was apparently responsible for assigning city and county names). It’s therefore reasonable to consider the police department as an unnecessary expense, and a potential source of avoidable trouble. That latter consideration, ironically, was underscored by the disgruntled officers themselves, who have accused town councilors of asking them to conduct unlawful background checks on each other.  The municipal officials stoutly deny ever making such requests. 

What is the purpose of inflicting a police department on a minuscule settlement where crimes against persons and property are practically unknown? The obvious answer is that while such towns might be welcome havens from private criminal violence, there can be no sanctuary from revenue collection – and this is the core function of government law enforcement agencies, as Sheriff Eddie Soileau of Louisiana’s Evangeline Parish has recently reminded us.
"I swear to be a diligent tax collector": Sheriff Soileau takes the oath.
Soileau’s office is dealing with budget cuts, layoffs, and a Justice Department civil rights investigation, and is thus determined to pare operations down to the basics. To that end, he asked for, and received, an advisory opinion from the state’s Attorney General regarding the following question: Can he legally operate “without having law enforcement duties,” and simply carrying out the role of a tax collector?

The Louisiana State Constitution, replied the Attorney General’s office, specifies that he is to be “the collector of state and parish ad valorem taxes and such other taxes and license fees as provided by law.” Where law enforcement is concerned, the sheriff’s duties are a matter of discretion. He is required to “keep the peace and make arrests,” but is not required to appoint a specific number of deputies to carry out that function. “Should a sheriff choose not to appoint deputies to assist in his law enforcement role, we could cite no statute that would forbid such a choice,” concluded the AG’s opinion. 

Odd as this might seem to people who were suckled on resilient myths about sheriffs and police officers as valiant defenders of the public and protectors of private property, Sheriff Soileau’s arrangement actually restores his office to its primordial purpose.

Following the Norman conquest of England, the existing kinship-based system for defense of property and settlement of disputes was supplanted by a feudal order enforced through royal appointees called shire-reeves or shire-riffs – antecedents of the modern sheriff. Their duty was to maintain the “king’s peace” by collecting taxes and preventing private efforts at restitution for injuries. It was impermissible for subjects to settle disputes among themselves, since this would deprive the royal treasury of the fees imposed through the embryonic state’s “justice” system.

This is the disreputable origin of the venerable office of the local sheriff, the only lawman whose occupation is even remotely compatible with the American constitutional tradition. A spare handful of contemporary sheriffs, at most, see their role as protecting property rights, rather than serving the privileged elite that preys on the public, and they can expect to be harassed and driven from office. 

Everything the State says is a lie, everything it claims to own it has stolen, and every act undertaken to enforce state edicts is a crime. The disappearance of a law enforcement agency enhances the personal security of those residing in any community where such a blessed development occurs.

This week's Freedom Zealot Podcast examines the wrongful rape and kidnapping conviction of Idaho Falls resident Michael Whiteley:

Please be sure to visit the Libertarian Institute.

Dum spiro, pugno!


Mike Ross said...

Another great article. The previous article about the school to prison pipeline was excellent as well. I like to share your articles on facebook, however I usually have to wait until they appear on Lew Rockwell. I have not figured out how to share off of this site. I am a retired dairy farmer with 21 years of private/productive sector service and a recently retired, tax fed, costumed dispenser of state sanctioned violence, (I love your way with words). I served in law enforcement in the 70s and 80s, then spent 21 years as a productive citizen, during which time I became concerned about the militarization of police. I returned to law enforcement for another 14 years. I am a long term fan of your writing and share the same opinions on the issues. Naturally, my sharing of your articles and expressing my own opinions on the rampant corruption and excesses of law enforcement and government in general has not endeared me to many of my colleagues. Keep fighting, you are a great American. By the way, I am from Southern Missouri and served on a small department near Springfield.

Anonymous said...

Spot on and exactly what government is all about, stealing from the productive to feed the lazy who will not work real jobs that could likely put some dirt under their fingernails.
Classic example: When a city incorporates it does so not for the citizens best interest but for the new city's employees best interest. A city incorporating is to get their own police force to enforce the new laws that the city enacts as revenue scams the citizens of the city will be saddled with. When a city expands it borders to incorporate new areas into it's scam of stealing other people's money under any number of scams that have citizen serving names. The city's employees see the expanded lands as mo money for them for, higher wages, larger retirement and likely lifetime medical insurance paid for by the taxpayers. When a city expands and incorporates new land, homes, businesses and so on. Those new citizens of that city not only have to pay for the parasites that will now be living off of them. But they have to pay for past now retired employees of that city who are collection taxpayer retirement. The new citizens of the city incorporation scam will have a lot of new expenses and will get nothing in return that they didn't already have. Government has become a huge scam on decent people. But people need to understand, government today is a word for the "employees" of government and in many cases they are unionized to scam the taxpayers to larger degrees by having smooth talking union leadership. This lie of needing government is, brought to you by your local media. Watch your local news, read you local news paper. It's pretty much all about government in one form or another.

Whoopie said...

Government first came about when some local bandit got the idea that instead of raiding villages, he'd offer to defend them (from other bandits) in exchange for taxes. Government is a protection racket.

ancap said...

American Malls, thronged by tens of millions every day, are safe, pleasant, prosperous places precisely because of the relative absence of government intrusion and the relative absence of governments armed enforcement caste. The mall is perhaps the one place left us where there is still the preponderance of private governance and private security. By contrast Americans studiously avoid the place where government and its armed enforcement caste are most forcefully on display, the American 'inner city'. Where malls flourish under relative freedom, cities have perished under government domination. The hope has to be that one day soon malls and the residential communities surrounding them once again become independent free entities much like the city state of the renaissance.