Before I begin answering the hypotheticals, I should point out that I am against Federal spending
on these types of preventative measures. I do agree with you on the potential of the effectiveness of some crime preventing measures being greater than "policing", however I do not think that these methods, which are not proven and which may change in effectiveness over time, are the responsibility of a centralized Federal government.
Scott wrote:How do you determine when its a direct and thus acceptable form of government spending and when its an indirect and thus unacceptable form of government spending? Consider these examples:
1. the violent-crime reducing recreation center that would prevent more infringements on liberty (such as murder, rape, etc.) per dollar than common forms of direct spending to that end.
I would leave creative methods of crime-reduction [i.e. non-policing] to the City level, and more reluctantly to the States if such methods were proven effective.
My major problem with this is that criminology isn't a fully understood science, and neither are any of crime's assumed underlying causes. Considering how little we know, how can we justify spending on programs that don't directly address the prevention of imminent violent crimes or the administration of justice in their aftermath [Police, Justice System, and Corrections]?
Scott wrote:2. Consider a guy who suddenly gets an acute brain disease that makes him utterly insane, unstable and delusion. Consider he owns a gun. Consider that it wouldbe a psychologist's estimation that without forceful interference one with such a mental ailment has about a 95% chance of severely hurting or murdering someone such as one of his family members for any silly reason such as that he thinks they are evil aliens from space trying to take over the world or such. But consider that the guy hasn't actually started directly threatening anyone or attempting to commit an infringement of liberty (such as murder or rape). Would you support government spending to send some cops or state-paid medical doctors to go check out the situation and decide whether or not the guy needs to be institutionalized against his will? If institutionalized, would you support government spending to pay for the institutionalization? Wouldn't government spending to prevent this crazy guy from becoming a criminal be essentially as indirect as the spending on the recreation center?
Once again, who determines what is and isn't crazy? By what standard, and on what scientific basis can we affirm their findings? The truth is that we can't, so how can we justify an intrusive government who attempts to pre-emptively address "dangerous" people? What if I, as a Criminal Justice and Psychology Bachelor's degree holder, determined that you were a danger to society? Does that qualify me to go around deciding who should and should not be institutionalized?
The truth is, you can't penalize somebody for something they did not do. Just as I can't kill you because I was "scared" that you might kill me and call it self-defense, neither can you punish me for something that [although you might presume imminent] I have not done.
Scott wrote:3. Consider a guy who comes home, finds his wife cheating, pulls out a gun and keeps pointing it at her saying that he should kill her. Would you support government spending on this, namely on sending cops out to the scene to figure out what's going on and maybe preventing a murder?
The threat of deadly force not used for self-defense is itself a violent crime according to the law. A man who holds another at gun point has deprived the victim of his right to freedom of movement, along with freedom of speech, and freedom of liberty in general, so yes, I support police being sent out for this type of situation, and the incarceration of this man for his crime [the deprivation of the liberty of another].
Scott wrote:4. Consider a clear-cut instance of attempted murder. A guy plots for days on how to murder someone. There's enough evidence available that it is tantamount of proof of his intent to commit murder. Because his plans are so well known by the evidence available to the government agents, if they work at it immediately they can intercept him before he murders the victim. I assume you support the laws against attempted murder, which direct government spending to send taxpayer funded cops out to the scene in such a situation, right? And generally this entails arrest the guy and paying for his incarceration.
I treat this situation as the same as the one above. I don't believe that we should not fund law enforcement with tax dollars, but I also do not believe that we can continually spend and think that we will end crime. Even China, with over 70 Capital crimes [punishable by death] including "Death Vans", has people who offend on a regular basis. People will always commit crime, and the only thing we can do is attempt to effectively respond to the crimes during and after they are committed.
Scott wrote:What exactly is the differentiating principle that determines which of those form of violent-crime-reducing government spending you would support and which ones you wouldn't? That is, if we are not measuring simply by how much infringement on liberty is prevented per dollar spent on average in any given case? Or would you only want government spending and government action to be done after-the-fact--meaning you don't want the taxpayer-funded cops to do anything when they receive a call that someone is threatening or attempting to commit murder but only when they receive a call that a murder has already taken place as a way of enforcing liberty as a social contract?
I only want government spending on the direct prevention of crime at the highest, decentralized levels. Cities, communities, groups, and individuals can attempt to institute different crime-prevention measures that are indirect ["non-Defensive"], but until we have proven the theories of what works and what doesn't, I don't support anything but the funding of an appropriate amount of Police [I'd say attempt to keep a response time per-emergency-call of about 5 minutes], an efficient court system [has to maintain the right to a speedy trial as per 6th Amendment - which I'd put at a max of 6-8 months], and a Prison System.
Other than that, let the communities and Cities experiment as they wish, and we can see what works. If something is effective, I'm sure it'll catch on; if it doesn't, I'd hope that it wouldn't. Either way, there is no guarantee in American society that you will never be a victim, so spending tax-dollars as if we're going to create that utopian world is unrealistic.