Private security can be very, very expensive. Furthermore, I will argue that even the best private security in the world is not as effective as the Secret Service (or any major state security service) a state just has way more resources to expend and no profit margin to worry about when it comes to such things.
Ideally we live in a society where anyone who is a natural born citizen over the age of 35 can run for and be elected to the Presidency. Prior to making something like $100m since he left the White House there was a genuine chance that Bill Clinton may not have been able to afford private security–at least not for the rest of his life.
Bill has had some heart troubles but he left office as a guy not on his death bed by any means. Obviously he gets lifetime protection unlike future Presidents.
I don’t really care how odious a President’s policies are, Presidents will be targets whether they are our best President or worst President. Abraham Lincoln was quite possibly the best President we ever had–he pissed people off and got murdered.
As a society that feels anyone meeting a few token criteria should be able to be President, we can’t make it such that only the super rich can “afford” to be President. It is obviously already hard enough to break into the White House without being reasonably wealthy (again, several Presidents have only be reasonably well off–not truly rich.) It honestly is out of the rich for someone who is just “well off” to afford professional private security on the level required for a former President.
So by extension, a Vice President probably should receive some protection as well–on a case by case basis (as historically they have not been near as much a target as Presidents have been.)
I’m actually a bit opposed to Secret Service protection expiring 10 years after a President leaves office. The President only has such personal risk because of service to society, society should pay for their protection for life.
It’s also worth noting, while I don’t have any current figures, in 1985 before Nixon got rid of his Secret Service protection the SS only spent about $12m/year on Ford, Carter, Nixon, and their spouses combined.
So that doesn’t seem like a very meaningful public expenditure.
There’s a compelling reason to protect ex-presidents and vice presidents and their families - an assassination of any president in or out of office is a societal tragedy, and can have dramatic complications depending on who did it. It seems like a small and prudent investment to make sure that doesn’t happen.
There’s another good reason - if a president knows he may make enemies through certain policies, and that he won’t be protected from those enemies, that opens him up to being influenced through intimidation and fear. By giving him high-level protection, you can give him freedom to act in the best interests of the country, and not in the interest of saving his own skin.
Presidents, vice presidents, and their families should be protected for life unless they choose to decline the protection.