One of Benson’s primary subjects in his book is the need for police protection. He discusses police protection provided by the government, and then explores the possibility of police being provided by the free market. When the government is in charge of this, like anything, they have no motivation for providing the best product at the lowest cost. “This does not imply that police chiefs and judges will be completely ambivalent to the costs a department or court generates; it means that they are likely to make a relatively smaller effort at monitoring employees to check on wasted time and resources.” He also makes another point about the difference between government and the private market, “…government officials have the right to make such errors [such as unjust arrests…] and are not liable for them; private citizens, of course, generally are liable.” Look at BP. This private company makes a mistake, and whole world is going to end. The government miscalculates or makes a mistake, and oh well, it is no big deal.
One particular quote reminds of Hans-Hermann Hoppe and his theory of anarchy. In reference to communities, Benson says, “to join the group, one had to live by the acknowledged standards of conduct.” I think Hoppe had garnered a great deal of controversy about his similar stance, but to me, it just makes sense. Like subdivisions, condos, or other such areas, we don’t respond with horror when someone who lives in a condo must abide by the group rules. Why can’t all of society be like that?
A common theme in “The Enterprise of Law” is the nature of common law. Common, or customary, law is about the individual. Since it evolves from interaction between individuals, the emphasis is not on protecting the government or making a criminal pay for their crime by years of servitude to the government, instead common law emphasizes the importance of protecting individuals and their rights. And when their rights are violated, restitution is the top priority. The wrong committed to the individualmust be made right above all. I have in my notes a quote from “Tucker” and I’ll assume this is Benjamin Tucker, “Man’s only duty is too respect others’ rights…[and] man’s only right over others is to enforce that duty.” That is the basis of common law and why the private and free market is always preferable to the government…always.