Market Failure in Policing?

From: N
Sent: Saturday, September 14, 2019 1:10 AM
To: Walter Block <>
Subject: Market Failure?

Dear Dr. Block,

In Minneapolis there has been a big uptick in crime due to a rising population along with cuts to the police force. Do you see this uptick as a market failure as no private security forces have come in to fill the gap? At what point in the crime rate do we have to say that the market has failed?

Dear Nathan:

My answer to this one is that this is not “market failure” rather, rising crime is government failure. It is difficult for private security forces to compete with government when the latter gives away the competitive product, protection, for free, even when they engage in reductions. They are still giving away for free this service of theirs.

An awful lot of crime can be traced to government prohibition of drugs, to the minimum wage law (creates unemployment for teens), and welfare (breaks up the family). These are all government, not market, failures. Would there still be crime in the free society? We libertarians are not unrealistic. Of course there would still be some, albeit greatly reduced. But, it would tend to be “optimal,” in the sense that the last dollar spent on crime prevention and punishment would be such that any more spent in this direction would garner less value than the costs associated with criminal behavior. And, the market wouldn’t be creating any crime, as does the government.

I abstract, here, from mentioning the greatest criminals besetting us: the government.

Best regards,



2:39 am on October 4, 2019