A common problem that I find with the arguments of people who advocate having the state responsible for decisions about our lives and resources (for our own good, of course) is that they always seem to imagine irresponsible individuals and angelic bureaucrats; even though real-life and common sense indicate that people will tend to make better decisions for themselves (because they have more knowledge of their own circumstances) and government agents will often abuse power. Even if the theoretical cases for libertarianism (ethical and practical) don’t convince you, this danger of abuse should give you pause.
That’s pretty much where I am with the death penalty, for example. I accept the theoretical case for capital punishment. But, in practice, I just don’t trust the state’s employees to be careful enough with this kind of life-and-death power when it isn’t absolutely necessary to give it to them. Police, prosecutors, judges, and also juries make mistakes. Why make error correction impossible?
Radley Balko has a piece on Tech Central Station today about the book: Mugged by the State by Randall Fitzgerald. It’s a series of real-life stories of people who had their property rights (and, thus, their lives) violated by the government. You can also read excerpts from the book here, here, here and here.
Click on the links if you don’t mind getting angry.