Perspective: Prison Costs
OCTOBER 01, 1993 by EXECUTIVE ALERT
Prison operating costs in New York State have risen by 148 percent since 1983, while the number of inmates has increased only 93 percent. It is estimated that the state’s prison population will grow from the current 54,900 to 74,400 by the year 2000.
Annual operating costs in New York are $24,173 per inmate.
The Importance of Self-Government
I asked my family one evening when we were all gathered in the living room, “What is the first thing that comes into your mind when I say the word government?”
The responses? “The United States of America and its people.” “Bill Clinton.” “The White House.” “A group of men.”
Most of us, I think, would have answered in a similar way. The first thing that comes into our minds is civil government. But our minds are different from the minds of earlier Americans. In the first chapter of his book God and Government, Gary Demar does an excellent job of pointing out how. In 1828, Noah Webster defined government in terms of personal self-control: “Direction, regulation. ‘These precepts will serve for the government of our conduct.’ Control, restraint. ‘Men are apt to neglect the government of their temper and passions.’”
Prior to World War I, textbooks dealing with national government were qualified with the title “civics,” indicating their awareness that there were personal, family, church, school, and civil governments, each with its own legitimate sphere of authority. Webster’s 1828 definition went on to include family government before he dealt with government on the state or national level. The fact that modern dictionaries list civil government first indicates how much our thinking has changed.
A Political Harvest
Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uninformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many.
The Sins of the Intellectuals
The intellectual leaders of the peoples have produced and propagated the fallacies which are on the point of destroying liberty and Western civilization. The intellectuals alone are responsible for the mass slaughters which are the characteristic mark of our century. They alone can reverse the trend and pave the way for a resurrection of freedom.
—Ludwig von Mises
The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam cultivation,canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground—what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor?
Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends.
—F. A. Hayek
The Wisdom of Henry Hazlitt
The socialists and communists propose to cure poverty by seizing private property, particularly property in the means of production, and turning it over to be operated by the government.
What the advocates of all expropriation schemes fail to realize is that property in private hands used for the production of goods and services for the market is already for all practical purposes public wealth. It is serving the public just as much as in fact, far more effectively than if it were owned and operated by the government.
—Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993)
“Private Property, Public Purpose”
A memorial service for Mr. Hazlitt was held at The Foundation for Economic Education on August 4, 1993. Edmund A. Opitz, Bettina Bien Greaves, Hans F. Sennholz, George F. McKendry, and Andrea Rich shared reflections on Mr. Hazlitt’s character, intelligence, and dedication to the cause of liberty.