Monday, July 31, 2006

Collective Punishment: The Economic Case
Mike Rappaport

Richard Posner and Gary Becker weigh in on when it makes economic sense to impose collective punishment.  Becker writes:

"it would be . . . far-fetched to hold the German people responsible for the election of Hitler since he took steps to prevent the German people from voting him out of office. Moreover, people who voted for Hitler in the first place could not have easily anticipated the full dimensions of the horrors he would inflict on the world."

But this analysis may suggest it makes sense to impose collective punishment on the Palestinians who voted Hamas into office.  They knew that were getting a group who would make war and committ terrorism against Israel and presumably they can vote Hamas out of office.

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Mike Rappaport


This seems an appropriate situation for Negligence, to avoid inefficiently high care (and litigation costs, in the form of controversies over blame).

Thus, the German people can be blamed for Crystalnacht, which was quite foreseeable, but not for the Holocaust, which was not.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Aug 1, 2006 6:43:26 PM