The language of budget cuts, austerity, and sequestration seem to dominate the media’s landscape these days, instilling fear into Americans of vital government services being cut and chaos ensuing if governments aren’t allowed to spend and borrow infinitely. Conservatives decry supposed cuts to the military-industrial-complex, and liberals bemoan that without government welfare transfer programs, there would be social Darwinism. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) even blamed the Benghazi scandal on — wait for it — budget cuts and the sequester.
Leaving aside the details on whether the U.S. budget is actually shrinking, one needs to look no further than the city of Detroit to find the spontaneous order, civic cooperation, and peaceful market forces that take over when government simply isn’t around.
Detroit is absolutely bankrupt. The city faces a cash shortfall of more than $100 million by June 30. Long-term liabilities, including pensions, exceed $14 billion. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wants to bail out Detroit’s city government even further. Thanks to the financial situation of Detroit, emergency services like police and fire departments are being severely cut short. 911 is only taking calls during business hours. Homes have been abandoned making parts of the city look like a ghost town.
If our public servants are right and wouldn’t dare lie and try to scare us, then chaos, anarchy and lawlessness should reign in Detroit now, right? Well, not exactly.
Dale Brown and his organization, the Threat Management Center (TMC), have helped fill in the void left by the corrupt and incompetent city government. Brown started TMC in 1995 as a way to help his fellow Detroit citizens in the midst of a rise in home invasions and murders. While attempting to assist law enforcement, he found little but uninterested officers more concerned with extracting revenue through traffic tickets and terrorizing private homes with SWAT raids than protecting person and property.
In an interview with Copblock.org, Brown explains how and why his private, free market policing organization has been so successful. The key to effective protection and security is love, says Brown, not weapons, violence, or law. It sounds a bit corny, yes, but the results speak for themselves.
Almost 20 years later and Detroit’s financial mess even more apparent, TMC now has a client base of about 1,000 private residences and over 500 businesses. Thanks to TMC’s efficiency and profitability, they are also able to provide free or incredibly low-cost services to the poor as well.
The reasons TMC has been so successful is because they take the complete opposite approach that government agencies, in this case law enforcement, do. Brown’s philosophy is that he would rather hire people who see violence as a last resort, and the handful of Detroit police officers who actually worked with Brown in the earlier years and have an interest in genuine protection now work for TMC. While governments threaten their citizens with compulsion, fines, and jail if they don’t hand over their money, TMC’s funding is voluntary and subject to the profit-loss test; if Brown doesn’t provide the services his customers want, he goes out of business.
This means that Brown is not interested in no-knock para-military SWAT raids, “officer safety” as the highest priority, bloated union pensions, or harassing people for what they have in their bloodstream. TMC works with its customers on the prevention of crime as well rather than showing up after the fact to take notes like historians.