Free Market Justice by Gaslight.
It is axiomatic that whatever the state can do the private sector can do better, and this lesson is rarely illustrated better in literature than in the stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As it was said by Doyle’s brother-in-law E.W. Hornung, there is no police like Holmes. With the new Sherlock Holmes movie set to be released on Christmas day, we will no doubt see a resurgence of interest in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, movies and television programs. Viewers and fans would do well to note the prevalent anti-state themes that course through these stories like the famous cocaine through the veins of Holmes himself.
The relationship between Holmes and the official London police force showed the marked contrast between a skilled master and a team of public investigators usually barely maintaining the status quo at least a few steps behind the criminals. Scotland Yard reeked of a smug incompetence that amused Holmes, even as he gave them the credit in most cases. They were frequently on the wrong path, lecturing Holmes about him wasting time chasing his fancy theories which ended up being correct. While Inspector Lestrade and the rest were so easily duped by the scheming criminals, Holmes did what the police should have done, what they were getting paid tax payer money to do. In “The Case of the Red Circle” we even see that a constable on duty at a murder scene is easily manipulated by a housewife. Like so many other instances in real life, the private market yielded results where the public option brought errors, gridlock and confusion.
You have to hand it to Students For Liberty. Every day I look around and grow despondent, seeing the tyranny that is promoted endlessly, the ever increasing burden of regulations and dominion, the corruption, the wars, and most importantly the bald-faced stupidity of the public, and I think we’re doomed as a country. But then I take a wild gander at SFL’s website, and realize that there are thousands of young people—both in the United States and around the globe—who have recognized the real problems that are facing us as a society and are working towards fixing them.
Not only, then, are we growing as a movement, but we’re also growing in the youth area, meaning we’ll have long-term and sustainable growth. Perhaps their greatest product has been their book series, edited by Tom G. Palmer, beginning with the knockout The Economics of Freedom and continuing withThe Morality of Capitalism. Now, SFL and Palmer are tackling a subject that I think libertarians have really failed to address adequately so far, in the latest book, After The Welfare State.
It’s not ready yet, but I really look forward to reading it. The first two books were substantive and informative, though simple and relatively lightweight (though considering this movement, I’m pretty much comparing it to Hayek, Friedman, and Mises, so there is a low bar there.) But the reason I really want to peruse this volume is because welfarism is one of our most pernicious foes.