The state makes a bargain with its subjects.
Not all of its subjects, of course; and not a clearcut, well-defined, legally-enforceable agreement. But the state has to keep at least a majority of the subjects at least vaguely satisfied that this amorphous bargain is being kept. Because, while the state claims a monopoly on the rightful use of force, and while the state has a large practical advantage in the use of force, a majority of the state's subjects could overthrow it. The overthrow could be difficult and bloody, but if most of the subjects are seriously unwilling to submit, the outcome isn't in any real doubt.
What is this "bargain" I'm talking about? Simply and basically stated, it is: Give up such-and-such a part of your liberties, and the state will protect you.
This bargain takes many forms, and operates on many sets of terms. The surrendered liberties may be few, or many. The "protection" offered by the state can be efficient ("Mussolini made the trains run on time"), or it can be the sort experienced by the left-behinds in New Orleans. The "protection" can be from many things: external enemies, real or imagined (Saddam Hussein as The New Hitler); old age, disease, misfortune, and poverty; robbers, rapists, and murderers; or stock-market "insider traders."
But let's think about physical security. We A'mur'kins have rendered up our supposed immunities to unreasonable searches and seizures in order to be, supposedly, safeguarded against the murderous Ay-rab, who is said to "hate us for our freedoms." Toward this end, we have these huge and astronomically-expensive state organizations, such as FEMA, the Homeland Security apparatus, as well as layers of military and police organizations as difficult to list as would be the individual liters of water covering New Orleans. They tax us and roust us pretty much as they please. But we're safe, aren't we?
Well, looking at New Orleans, where civilians with TV cameras seem able to reach people and places where the armed minions of the state dare not go, I think only two conclusions are possible. Either these glorious state organizations aren't competent to, as my late father used to say, "pour piss out of a boot, even with instructions printed on the heel," or they are merely gloriously unconcerned about the fate of those whose safety and well-being they allegedly protect. (In fairness, these aren't exclusive alternatives; both could easily be true.)
Isn't it time for, shall we say, a fundamental and far-reaching review and revision of our bargain with the state?