Rocco: Kidnappers who Care too Much.

When you’ve had a few drinks it’s great to have a nice sit down, isn’t it?  If you’re anything like me, you might even like to rest your eyes for a bit. Maybe even get your head down – drinking can be a tiring activity, after all. Ahh, dozing off after a few drinks! Is there anything better in the whole wide world? And there’s been some incredible news for fans of booze-snoozing recently. The State is thinking about introducing “drunk tanks” to this great land of ours. Just imagine that. A nice place to go and unwind after a night on the town – and they’ll even pick you up! Of course, you’ll have to pay for the accommodation, but it’ll almost certainly be a good deal. Yeah, drunk tanks. I can’t wait until they get here. I’m on the edge of my seat. Or, at least I was until I fell off.  Damn you, Malibu!

I’m joking of course. Not only have I never drank Malibu in my entire life, I also detest the idea of drunk tanks. Which may well put me at odds with many of you who are reading this. Most people don’t like seeing drunks asleep on the streets. Naturally, drunk tanks appeal to those of a conservative disposition. And even Bogpaper’s very own James Delingpole is keen on the idea. Given all this – particular the latter! – let me stress that being in favour of drunk tanks is completely understandable. But, as I’ll explain, it’s also completely wrong.

Now, I’d better make something clear at the beginning because, I imagine, this is the sort of thing that could easily be misunderstood. I am not opposed to drunk tanks because I long to see the streets of this country decorated with inebriates twenty-four hours a day. No, not at all. I am against them because they are illiberal; because they are incompatible with libertarianism.

But first, what is the State proposing? Well, instead of the police peeling drunks off the floor, locking them up for the night then forcing them to pay an £80 fine, the police will peel drunks off the floor and take them to a private firm who’ll lock then up for the night, then force them to pay an £80 fine. As the locking-up-for-the-night costs the State £400, the private firm will have the legal right to demand from the hungover fellow £400 in costs.

I suspect at this point there are a fair few of you, gentle readers, thinking “Good! These people should have to pay huge sums of money. That’ll teach them a lesson, and discourage others.” But, remember these people aren’t violent drunks we’re talking about. They aren’t abusive drunks. They aren’t even boisterous drunks. The police haven’t given up on arresting those. No, we’re talking about sleeping drunks, dozing drunks. Blokes (or blokettes) who’ve passed out. Who are therefore past the point of being a threat to anybody.  These people are not villains. But they are about to become victims – victims of the Caring State.

Only the Caring State could spend £400 locking up one drunk for one night. Well, that is until drunk tanks are brought in, because it’s now been set in stone that locking up drunks ‘professionally’ costs £400 per night. So that’s what it will cost when private firms do it. And I would guess that £400 will be the minimum it’ll cost. Why the minimum? Won’t market forces drive down the price? No. Market forces simply won’t exist here, as the State will enforce payment of the ransom no matter how much it is set at.  The drunk has already been found guilty – he’s been locked away in a drunk tank all night, hasn’t he? – therefore he will have to pay whatever his kidnappers demand. Moreover, as the purpose of this policy is explicitly to deter people from falling asleep whilst drunk, it is irrational to expect the ransom demands to come down. If anything, the State will encourage the kidnappers to raise them

Doubtless, some will think I’m going over the top in calling this kidnapping. But note: the State isn’t proposing that just anyone should be allowed to do this. You, gentle reader, won’t be allowed to do this in a private capacity. Hoteliers aren’t, in a private capacity, going to be allowed to take the paralytic back to their 3-star hotels, tuck them up nice and tight and hope the bed bugs won’t bite – then force them to pay the cost of a nights stay in a single with en suite come morning. No, because then it would be completely obvious that what is being proposed is nothing other than kidnapping and demanding a ransom.  But, of course, if the State does it – or says that you can do it – it magically loses its criminal character and becomes something that any decent person should support.

But isn’t the motive behind drunk tanks to look after people who can’t look after themselves? Doesn’t this make it alright? Why on earth should it? Is my secretly taking your cigarettes from you, in an heroic attempt to prevent you getting cancer, not theft?  If, out of nowhere, I punch you in the face trying to kill a wasp I’m desperately worried might sting your cheek, have you not been assaulted? It strikes me as very odd that people who claim to be unwavering adversaries of “the nanny State”, should be in favour of what is, in fact, the ultimate act of nannying: taking a grown man home and putting him to bed, then staying up all night and coming in to check on him every quarter of an hour. Very odd, indeed. Moreover, isn’t this all incredibly presumptuous? Maybe this is how the drunk likes to finish his evenings. Maybe this – passing out on the pavement – is the highlight of his week. Or maybe he’s actively attempting to drink himself to death. No one can know. The point is, no matter whether he would or wouldn’t thank his “rescuers”, he isn’t hurting anybody. He’s just sleeping. That’s all he’s doing. He should be left alone.

Isn’t the sleeping drunk at great risk of being the victim of a crime, though? Theft, assault, rape? Murder, even? This can’t be denied. But the question is, why are the drunk being treated any differently from the non-drunk? That is, why single out the paralytic to be held against their will and extorted? What’s so special about them? Why not kidnap all the members of demographic groups who can’t defend themselves from crime to the level demanded by the State? The elderly, the severely disabled, the gullible, the sickly, the frail, the slow-witted, the comatose, etc. If only we stopped faffing about, got proactive and kidnapped all these people too, think of all the time and effort we’d save the police, all the money we’d “save the taxpayer”. In all seriousness, the State and it’s supporters are talking about locking people up and charging them a fortune, because they might, just might, become the victim of a crime. The victim of a crime! This is absolutely disgraceful! At least in those sci-fi dystopias they lock people up on the basis that they might commit a crime, for goodness sake.

Finally, what about the “public nuisance” aspect? Aren’t these people abusing “public property” by kipping on the streets? Hardly. There is no such thing as “public property”. What is given this epithet is, rather, State property. The State determines how, and by whom it may and may not be used; no member of “the public” may sell “his” share of it. Therefore the State is the owner. And how did the State come by “its property”? Taxation, of course. And what is taxation? The involuntary transfer of money from man to State upon pain of punishment. It is nothing other than robbery with menaces. But robbers have no legitimate property rights whatsoever over their loot.

So, we see that drunks sleeping on the street are not criminals at all. They do not aggress against persons or property, so neither should they be aggressed against. They are not to be harassed or despised. In truth, they are brave men and women who are, in their own unique fashion, fighting back against State oppression. As libertarians we shouldn’t be jeering them, we should be applauding them.

Just not too loudly.

15 comments on “Rocco: Kidnappers who Care too Much.

  1. silverminer
    October 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    [39] “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights and possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.” Magna Carta 1215.

    12. “That all Grants and Promises of Fines and Forfeitures of particular persons before Conviction are illegall and void.” Bill of Rights 1689.

    It seems our legislators have no respect for our constitutional documents nor for natural law.

    • Rocco
      October 7, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

      That’s the problem with the fiction called “limited government”, though Silverminer. Ultimately the decision whether a policy exceeds those ‘limits’, or whether to ignore those ‘limits’ in any case, is taken by government.

  2. Anthem
    October 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Dearie me Rocco… you do go after some topics 🙂

    The slight problem we have in the UK is that there’s already a lot of force involved in what is paid for and by whom that this kind of thing comes in two or three notches distant from the actual problem.

    I like to think I’m a bit of libertarian. If people want to drink themselves into unconsciousness, that’s fine by me. So long as they are picking up the tab and clean up any mess afterwards; no problem.

    It just causes me one or two little problems though.

    I like to believe in human compassion. It is this human compassion that I rely on in my arguments against forced taxation to help the poor and needy. I’d like to think that people would help people voluntarily.

    Now, imagine the scenario. You are walking by (with me clipping at your heels and breathing down your neck, obviously) and you see a chap who appears to be unconscious.

    Do you just walk by?

    Some would, some might be inclined to go over and see if the chap is ok.

    The chap gives no response. What has happened to him? You start to feel concern (compassion), you dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.

    The ambulance crew arrive and are annoyed that, yet again, their valuable time has been wasted on yet another drunkard passed out in the street.

    You might be feeling a bit guilty now. The drunk never asked you to get involved and now he’s going to have to pay £400 to be “kidnapped”. You feel like you’ve wasted the emergency services’ valuable time.

    Next time you see someone lying in the street, you might be inclined to walk by.

    Next time, that person unconscious might be you but everyone is walking by as you die slowly but surely of … whatever… a cardiac arrest, a brain haemorrhage, a hypoglycaemic attack… you’ve not even touched a drink (and even if you had, it is still possible to suffer these things independently of the alcohol consumption).

    Why this is all several notches away from what we have is because we are all forced to pay for the NHS so maybe the emergency services are wrong to pass the buck onto the police who then feel compelled to pass it onto a third agency.

    I pay my taxes, you will damn well treat me when I get pissed and I don’t care how many paramedics and ambulances you need to send! It’s my rights, innit.

    Care should be free at the point of delivery under the current system and if I need someone to sit over me just in case I get a bit aggressive whilst under the influence of simply choke on my own vomit… well, this is what we “voted” for when we voted in the last government who, just like all the rest, didn’t recommend any dismantling of the NHS.

    I don’t see anyone suggesting that people who suffer injury through playing football or rugby or bungee or parachute jumping or cliff or mountain-climbing should have to pay extra for the inconvenience caused by their unfortunate but entirely avoidable (and probably quite likely) injury.

    Why should the drunk be a special case just because of his lifestyle choice?

    Under a more private health insurance system then perhaps ambulance call-outs would reflect themselves in a premium hike and if you’re the type who needs an ambulance every other Saturday then maybe it’s time to modify your behaviour, pay the premium or at least wear a badge saying, “If you find me dying, just leave me to it.” so the rest of us don’t have to be left with any kind of moral dilemma should we find you drooling vomit and blue around the lips.

    • Rocco
      October 8, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      Sorry for the delay in replying, Anthem. I had to find out what this word “compassion” meant. 😀 No, man – my internet’s been down.

      I think what you’ve done is present a great example of an unintended consequence of this proposed policy. It”s indeed more likely that people presumed to b be drunk, rather than being the right kind of ill (think Good AIDS, if you’re familiar with Brass Eye!) , will be ignored in the wake of this.

      Also, your point about mountain climbing, etc, is excellent. Drunks are being victimised by the State, because of a prejudice against “binge” drinking. You’re absolutely right: infer a socialised healthcare system people should be treated no master what. And if this puts a “strain” on the State, all the better.

      • Rocco
        October 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

        That should be “in”, not “infer”.

  3. jazz606
    October 8, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    This one of the few policies with which I’m in virtually full agreement except for a couple of minor points, before release the drunks should be made to restore their tank to pristine condition and given a very cold shower.

    • Rocco
      October 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

      Jazz, you mean people should be kidnapped and forced to pay £480 pounds for falling asleep?
      And then be made to clean the room they were imprisoned in, and subjected to physical abuse before being released?

      Dude, you’ve always struck me as being very liberal in your comments before. I’m puzzled, I must say.

      • andyL
        October 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

        “And then be made to clean the room they were imprisoned in, and subjected to physical abuse before being released?”

        I think Max Mosley pays more for this experience?

        I like the article. Can’t make up my mind on this one.

      • Rocco
        October 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

        How do you mean?

      • jazz606
        October 8, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

        I just have no time or sympathy for drunks. We had a lot of them when I was at sea. They’re just a f*****g nuisance and deserve every thing that happens to them. A £400 fine and a night in the tank is letting them off lightly.

      • Rocco
        October 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

        Letting them off lightly for what, Jazz? We’re not talking about blokes running riot, causing trouble or whatever. Just those that have passed out. How is their being unconscious a crime?

        Look, I’ve no sympathy for these people either. That’s why I say “let them sleep”. If they want to drink themselves into a coma, let them.

        It only becomes a problem because the State makes it a problem.

  4. concretebunker
    October 8, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Rocco – rock on! Another great insight -luv it.
    I do think that Anthem has a point? But its down to judgement whether someone needs help and his argument doesn’t undermine the logic of your argument.

    • Rocco
      October 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      Thank you, my friend. I appreciate the support.

      Yes, Anthem has a good point – several, in fact ( he usually does) as I’ve said noted in my reply to him.
      Im in agreement with him – drunks shouldn’t be charged for their treatment, especially given that they haven’t asked for it, and likely don’t need it anyway. And they certainly shouldn’t be extorted for falling asleep.

  5. Anthem
    October 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    As an aside, a friend of mine wrote an article on this topic the other day (he takes quite a different view from Rocco).

    Not my problem

    I must stress that it IS a friend of mine (we go walking together – there are probably a few pictures of me on that blog!)

    I don’t know if he’s nicked it from somewhere or the words are his own but one thing he says in there struck a chord with me for some reason:-

    That’s why, I believe, there should be consequences for anti-social behaviour. If there are not, that isn’t liberty we’re all enjoying but anarchy we’re suffering.

    • Rocco
      October 8, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

      Anthem, there are two huge problems with your mate’s argument. He says there must be consequences for anti social behaviour, and he defines anti social behaviour as behaviour that costs the taxpayer money.

      The first problem is that no behaviour on the part of “citizens” costs the taxpayer money – the State costs citizens money. Absent the State, drunks passed out on the street cost the uninvolved citizen absolutely nothing.

      The second problem is, once his definition of anti social behaviour is accepted, almost no behaviour can be free of State control. Smoking, eating salt,.eating sugar, eating too much, eating too little, drinking too much alcohol, drinking too little alcohol, gambling, swearing, not exercising enough,
      exercising too much, not passing gsce’s, not passing A-levels, not looking both ways before crossing the road, running with scissors, playing football, playing rugby, playing darts, sky diving, bungee jumping, travelling by car, travelling by plane, travelling by bus travelling by train, having unprotected sex, having children, sitting too close to the tv, throwing paper aeroplanes, not having your hair cut regularly, being angry,.being sad,.being too happy, eating spicy food, etc etc etc.

      All of these activities and many many more, can end up “costing the taxpayer money”. Therefore, they are all anti social and should be outlawed immediately.
      Your mate claims to be a libertarian, Anthem. But what is left of a liberal position after this?

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