Privateers—private ships licensed to carry out warfare—helped win the American Revolution and the War of 1812 but fell into disuse after the federal government made it hard to monitor their performance. Like the government’s use of private military companies in today’s hotspots, privateering was an instance of the “contracting out” of security services, not the full privatization of security, and thus operated in the context of incentives and constraints established by the government.

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Other Independent Review articles by Alexander T. Tabarrok
    Fall 2013   The Global Organ Shortage
    Summer 2000   Assessing the FDA via the Anomaly of Off-Label Drug Prescribing
    Spring 1999   Privatizing Social Security