The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.--Washington Post, Dec. 22, 2007
The libertarian advocate of limited government will agree that the state is likely to abuse the power, and he will therefore oppose the FBI's plan. But ... he also believes the state is necessary -- indeed, indispensable -- to protect individual freedom. That puts him in the awkward position of opposing the end but not a means. When his conservative opponents chide him for wanting to leave Americans vulnerable to terrorism or other crime, the minarchist will have little to argue in response except to say that the database won't be work as promised. But how does he know this? Even if the state uses the database against noncriminals, that doesn't rule out the chance that it will also be used to catch real rights violators.
Anarchists are not subject to this criticism because they embrace a full free market in protective services. We know that entrepreneurs in a free market will devise innovative ways -- consistent with liberty -- to protect people from criminals, including terrorists. Comprehensive private property is an essential institution for preventing crime without violating rights. Considering John Robb's thesis in Brave New War, the state is increasingly unsuited to protect us because potential enemies are highly decentralized, flexible, and entrepreneurial. Only free-market protection is up to the task.
What say you, limited-government advocates?