This past long weekend edition of STR  had a link about Mercenaries Patrolling in New Orleans . This link is to a story in The Nation  magazine and is negatively slanted against the free market practice of buying security protection. I am not sure why or what the objection is.
If I had substantial assets (not to mention my own life and the lives of my family and friends) at risk, I'd sure want the best quality security operatives protecting them. Anyone demure?
Just because BlackwaterUSA  is a private firm, is the beef here? BFD  in my humble opinion. I'd gladly pay Blackwater or any other private outfit whatever I needed to in order to protect the lives and assets that are of value to me rather than leave them totally unprotected or under the care of arguably the worst major urban police force in America today. And since the only alternative would be to load up on food, water, and 7.62mm Soviet ammo for the SKS rifles  and ride it out myself, Blackwater is a pretty good option to have available, eh?
Between Mayor Ray Nagin, the NOPD, FEMA, and the various and sundry local, state, and federal badges and uniforms doing security on the one hand, or doing it myself on the other, I'd cut that check in a second. If Blackwater or whoever I hire screws up, I have recourse against them. I can fire them, replace them, and/or sue them for damages. What recourse do I have against the NOPD? (A very apt abbreviation too, 'NO-PD.' But I digress.)
We are often told that this practice is bad because it is a privilege of the rich and powerful. Yes sir, it often is. To restate, however: If I had a multi-million dollar facility, building, or other physical property or real estate, I probably do not care to have displaced refugees, looters, scalawags, rogue cops, and whoever all else given unhindered access to my stuff. Selfish I may be, but I don't wish to have my property and people put at risk in this way. Maybe some of the objectors don't have the money or the guts to provide for their own defense. This is sad, but so is life sometimes, too.
Why blame only the poor and weak for their fecklessness and for being unprepared, but not the home and business owners who also fecklessly made no provision for their protection and defense? It is the same comparison morally as well in my opinion, too.
Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have said, 'A fool and his money soon go separate ways.' The same could be said of home and business owners who make no provision for the safety of the people under their authority or assets under their management or ownership. And those people's lives and the value of their property will 'go separate ways' too if the persons in charge of its husbandry fail to have means to protect and defend it. Blackwater and other private firms are one possible answer here, and those who disparage or condemn the use of these expensive but thoroughly trained and very professional paramilitary security firms should be called upon to explain their objections.
As I perused the Internet in researching this article, I was able to find many credible news reports of New Orleans cops looting , deserting the city  (in city-owned police cars, no less!) and accidentally shooting dead  workers trying to repair the broken levees. I could find none that reported any misconduct on the part of Blackwater or other private security outfits.
What is the objection, then? That being able to afford private security isn't 'fair' in some way? Life isn't fair, either, I would also point out. If I were a resident of an apartment or renting a building, no way would I consider hiring expensive security. I'd take what I could and get out of town and 'end of story' on that issue. This option is the mirror image of the well-heeled property owner: nothing to lose and so nothing to protect.
People are a lot more rational at considering what their best interests are than the pundits in the media give them credit for. In my observation over the years, the formulation that 'poor = stupid' just isn't true. They have less money and resources, but stupidity isn't necessarily the reason why.
So the pissers and moaners in the media should be more circumspect about complaining about private security options. The Italians have a saying that goes, 'Never disparage another man's racket; you never know when you'll have to do it yourself.' Which is sage advice, methinks.