Is it possible to privatize police AND the justice system?

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    I had a discussion with a colleague about whether it was possible to privatize the police force and justice system and it was my decision that it wasn’t. I’m all for libertarian principles but I don’t see how it applies to the justice system. I think peoples basic nature will take over and you need a system in place that tries to be the most objective possible without any monetary incentive.

    He tried to apply basic libertarian principles that work for capitalism to this.

    His argument was that everyone would hire private police and they would protect a specific portion of land. When problems arose past the private police force they would go to private court system. He explains that both of these entities would remain in business since the people that pay their pay check keep them honest.

    My argument was that justice and cannot be monetarily incentivized and that morally and ethically righteous people needed to be voted in. I understand that perhaps the corrupt police and judges would go out of business but at what expense? Seems like it would be a never ending struggle fought by the richest people and the masses, but then again the masses don’t pay, the rich folk do.

    What does everyone think?


    quick search brought this. The author bring up similar arguments against Rothbards anarcho capitalist views on a private police force and justice system. looking more into the minimalist state by Ayn Rand.


    I suggest you re-post your comments and question on the “General Discussion” forum. You’re likely to get more discussion there than you will on this forum, which is dedicated to economics.

    Having said that, I will venture a few comments. Economic theory demonstrates that the market economy arranges production in the manner that most fully satisfies people’s preferences. For the market economy to be sustained, private property and voluntary contract must be given the sanction of law and people must accept the legitimacy of private property and voluntary contract. Given that people prefer to have legal sanction of private property and contract, it doesn’t seem implausible that the services of adjudicating and executing those legal sanction could be done by private enterprise instead of by a state enterprise. If people don’t prefer to have legal sanction of private property and contract, then injustice will reign regardless of how the adjudication and execution of legal sanctions is organized.


    Noted and posted to general, thanks!

    The main issue I see is that you will always have people that will take advantage of that system and I full see a great portion of courts being supported by corporations or the wealthiest ( behind the scenes, that may be fair in business but not fair in law).

    I mean who decides on what court to go to in the first place? It seems that much injustice will be done before any court goes out of business and that it will happy more frequently.

    Another concern is the courts who will have the ability to sentence and execute also…

    I feel that voting in morally objective officials, who are not incentivized by money may the best option we have…


    But most disputes today in our system are handled in private arbitration. For help in answering your questions, I suggest you read Bruce Benson’s book, The Enterprise of Law (Pacific Research Institute, 1990).


    I feel that voting in morally objective officials, who are not incentivized by money [and power] may the best option we have…” (Emphasis added; “and power” added).

    Please let me know when you find some.

    I don’t really mean to be snide there or go all Diogenes on you; but the myth of impartial, scientific public-policy carried out by disinterested, objective officials is what early Progressives believed in (and some modern ones still claim to believe in, or, at least, peddle).

    But it’s like the old saw about making best way to make the most delicious rabbit soup, without having caught the rabbit.

    1) Find these persons.

    2) Find an electorate that will vote them into office (rather than voting for the ones that promise them the most boodle/make the most outlandish promises/offers of free lunch).

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