A state-sponsored enforcement action would be a crime if it were done by an ordinary citizen. Governments are the only entities that can authorize enforcement actions, and governments get almost all of their income from enforcement actions. It's true that they return some of the revenues to the people, but this has to be minus the cost of enforcement. In the US the cost of enforcement includes the largest and most costly standing army in the world, the largest and most costly prison system in the world and a huge herd of lawyers and bureaucrats.
Over time the number of enforcers employed by the government usually increase. We have certainly seen that in the USA. Not only have the numbers of enforcers increased, but their weaponry has grown in power and the number of jails has increased dramatically.
The net contribution of a state to society is always negative since it gets it's income through enforcement actions which destroy goods and services. Like crime, enforcement doesn't pay from the viewpoint of the total economy of a society. As the state takes more and more of the energy of ordinary people, the people invest more and more of their energy into resisting the enforcement actions of the state. This resistance raises the enforcement costs to the state and raises the total amount of destruction of resources caused by state enforcement and the resistance to state enforcement.
More and more of the economic activity of the society go into an underground economy, which is largely invisible to the state. Ordinary crime increases.
Eventually, the state takes enough energy from the private sector, that the non-state economy falters or fails altogether. The states revenue falls. The people who control the state have become accustomed to a constantly increasing revenue stream. They are seldom inclined to voluntarily reduce that revenue stream, so they increase enforcement actions. This creates a negative feedback loop. As enforcement actions are increased, the economy is further damaged, and the states revenue falls even more.
We can see this in action in our society today as the government bails out the financial sector. That basically means ensuring the revenue stream to the nations elites regardless of how much it costs the rest of us.
Eventually, the state will have to content itself with a reduced revenue stream while the economy is recovering, but it is usually a painful process for all involved to make that adjustment. It is in the rational self interest of the elites of our society to reward work and punish crime, but this is difficult to do in a culture of increasingly draconian enforcement actions which have many of the same characteristics as ordinary crimes. Enforcement actions destroy goods and services just as crimes do.
I would think that most of the states in the world are now in that state of collapsing economies and sinking revenues.
The first states to voluntarily reduce enforcement actions will be the economic powerhouses of the twenty first century. Right now it looks like China and Russia are both ahead of the USA in this race to a milder form of Statism.
The overdeveloped enforcement arm of the US state is obvious. As a percentage of our total economy and population, we have the largest army and the largest prison population. We have the drug war, the war on terror, and more and more police that are more and more heavily armed.
Enforcers often have difficulty distinguishing enforcement actions from crimes. As Richard Nixon famously put it: When the President does it, it's not illegal. It practice, most enforcers share the view that whatever an enforcer does is legal. The more enforcers there are, the more political power they have, and the less concerned they are about distinguishing from authorized enforcement actions and crimes.
The amount of fraud, chicanery, and illegal acts by cops admitted to on cop shows is astonishing to me, and I have a feeling that it is understated.
But having a large subset of the population performing a lot of enforcement acts and criminal acts is extremely destructive to the economy. When the enforcement community of a society gets too large the economy tanks.
If we want to get our economy back on track, we need to stop wasting time and energy fighting with each other and get back to work.?>