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Date:Tue, 29 May 2001 17:21:57 -0700 (PDT)

"Enlightening Ideas for Public Policy..."
VOL. 3, ISSUE 21
May 29, 2001

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1. The Federal Bureau of Incompetence
2. Integrating Immigrants
3. Happy Birthday, Patrick Henry



The American people justifiably feel sickened by the FBI's
mishandling of evidence in the Timothy McVeigh case, but they
shouldn't be surprised, according to economist Bruce Benson, senior
fellow at The Independent Institute.

"The FBI's failure to divulge reams of evidence to McVeigh's lawyers
is just the latest bungle in a history stretching back to when
President Theodore Roosevelt created its predecessor, the Bureau of
Investigation," writes Benson in a new op-ed.

"Regrettably, blunders and cover-ups are not confined to the FBI.
Despite cover-up attempts, similar scandals involving both state and
local prosecutors and police show that misrepresentation and even
falsification of forensic evidence occurs regularly."

At the root of the systemic problems that plague public
law-enforcement, Benson argues, is poor accountability. Yet strong
accountability (and its offshoot, innovation) is the norm in the
private sector. This, according to Benson, explains why governments
are increasingly contracting with the private sector for police
dispatch, investigative services, fingerprinting, crime labs, traffic
control, data processing, prisoner transport and other traditional
police functions. Between 1964 and 1997, in fact, the number of
specialized security firms grew by more than 800 percent, while
employment by these firms grew by almost 925 percent.

This trend is explained by the simple fact that in police services,
as in other services, customers tend to get what they pay for. For

* In 1992, the 2,565 private railroad police employed by major
railroads had a clearance rate (reported crimes cleared by arrest)
2.86 times greater than the clearance rate for public police.

* In the 1970s, a private investigation firm was contracted to look
into police corruption in small towns in Ohio and West Virginia.
Within months, the firm's efforts led to more than 150 arrests.

* After a drug scandal in 1993, the town of Sussex, New Jersey,
replaced its tiny four-officer police force with private policing
firm. Contracting out for policing is a common practice in
Switzerland and the Bahamas.

"Calls on Congress to once again investigate the FBI miss the mark,"
concludes Benson. "Changing the political and bureaucratic delivery
of policing services requires fundamental reform, and the growth of
the private security industry strongly suggests how those reforms
ought to take shape."

See Bruce Benson's op-ed, "The Countervailing Trend to FBI Failures:
A Return to Privatized Police Services," at

Also see:

"Poll: 4 out of 10 Americans don't trust FBI" (USA Today, 5/24/01)

TO SERVE AND PROTECT: Privatization and Community in Criminal
Justice, by Bruce Benson (The Independent Institute/New York
University Press, 1998)

The Independent Institute's archive on crime policy:



The best way for state governments to help integrate immigrants into
American life is to promote private schooling, according to Alex
Tabarrok, research director at The Independent Institute.

In his testimony before the State of California's Little Hoover
Commission, Tabarrok argued that private schooling is the most
effective way to foster proficiency in the English language -- the
single most important skill for immigrants to learn.

California's public high schools, Tabarrok noted, have appalling
student dropout rates: 32 percent overall and about 45 percent for
immigrants. Dropout rates for similar students are much lower in
private schools. California's public schools also have little room
for educational diversity, experimentation or competition. In the
heated debate over bilingual education, no one questioned why
politicians, bureaucrats and voters should decide a question best
left to parents and educators. Private education is much better at
matching students with teaching styles and curricula best suited to
their individual needs.

Private schools are a benefit to native students as well as
immigrants. Lower dropout rates and greater college attendance for
natives reduces potential conflicts in the labor market between
low-skilled natives and immigrants.

Tabarrok also called for repealing laws and regulations that impede
entrepreneurship among immigrants, such as city regulations that have
eroded jitney services often run by immigrants and other economic

Tabarrok also noted that immigrant integration is not always
desirable. Immigrants, for example, often have stronger families,
high rates of entrepreneurship, and lower crime rates than do
natives, especially for their education and income levels.

"If natives had the same institutionalization rate as immigrants,"
Tabarrok said, "our jails and prisons would have one-third fewer

For Alex Tabarrok's Testimony on Immigrant Integration, see

For the Independent Institute's archives on immigration, see



"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price
of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what
course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me
--Patrick Henry (b. 5/29/1736, d. 6/6/1799)

Memorial Day may get more fanfare, but for lovers of liberty Patrick
Henry's birthday is even more significant. While there is no denying
the need for a day of remembrance for the Americans who have died in
battle, what made their sacrifices meaningful is the principle behind
the American Ideal -- the principle articulated most passionately in
Patrick Henry's immortal words, "give me liberty, or give me death."

Ironic though it may at first seem, Henry's fighting words are the
words of a peacemaker. For the only lasting peace is one that arises
from an embrace of the principle of liberty -- peace and liberty are
two sides of the coin of a voluntary society. And the sooner that the
United States and other governments learn this, the less likely that
they will add to the list of those we remember on Memorial Day.

Patrick Henry also reminds us that liberty is not secured overnight.
A decade after the American Revolution, Henry fought hard to secure
the Bill of Rights; he recognized that an unlimited federal
government could be just as tyrannical as the British monarchy.

Patrick Henry should thus be remembered for both his principles and
his realism. A heart and mind united, Henry was a patriot to whom
Americans will always remain in debt.

Happy Birthday, Patrick Henry!

For Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death" speech, see

For an enlightening perspective on the American Revolution, see
Gerald Gunderson's review of Theodore Draper's book, THE STRUGGLE FOR
POWER: The American Revolution, at:


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