Police Reform in Mexico

Here’s a very bad case of regulatory capture:

Efforts to clean up local police have met bloody resistance from the cartels. The new mayor of Santiago, an upscale colonial town near Monterrey, was kidnapped, tortured and executed by members of his own police this summer after he had pledged to clean up local police.

This is why hand-waving in the direction of “small government” is such an inadequate response to the very real problem of making public sector institutions perform well. Rigid public choice theory implies that even the nightwatchman state is impossible to implement. The least-controversial spheres of government activity are the most dangerous ones—the ones with the guns and helicopters and dungeons and aircraft carriers and nuclear missiles—and unless we can make these public institutions more-or-less serve the public interest, we’re doomed. Effective public institutions are difficult to create, but not impossible, and they’re extremely valuable.