The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Saban the influencer
Tom Smith

Interesting for the behavior of top predators in the food chain we call earth.

But pleast note that first, I am totally with Saban on Israel.  Second, it seems to me he made his money honestly. Still, billionaires make me think of predators for some reason.

I have been interested for a long time in predation and how some model or other of predation might be applied to, for want of a better term, law and economics.  I think a lot of human behavior is more or less predatory (I don't mean this as a criticism).  And yet, most analysis of law concentrates on voluntary exchange.  And what legal thought you see that contemplates predatory behavior is just progressive blah blah, relying on such vacuous concepts as inequality of bargaining power.  Ecologists who think about predation are interested mostly it seems in the often extraordinarily complex dynamics of ecologies that contain predator and prey populations.  I am more interested in, for example, behaviors that are characteristic of predation, such as (I suppose) stalking, identifying likely prey, and so on.  But I have not been able to find any theoretical treatment of predation of the sort I could borrow from and apply to the stuff I am interested in, such as perhaps commercial law topics.  Frustrating.  I have tried talking to anthropologists about this, but they don't seem to know what I am talking about and I am probably not very good at explaining it.  But surely there must be classes of behaviors that are characteristic of predators across species and ecosystems.  Just watch Animal Planet if you don't believe me!

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Tom Smith


If you want to mix in ecology with law and economics I have one:

The state over time has evolved from naked predation on the civilian population (think Genghis Khan), to a parasitical relationship (think Louis XIV), to a more symbiotic relationship (think the last 100 or so years) through deliberate attempts to foster prosperity. That evolution from predation to symbiosis is actually quite normal in the wild where parasites over time, evolve from dangerous predators to symbionts.

As for general predatory behavior in law and economics, I suppose you are thinking about the tort bar. I hear, but do not know for a fact, that tort lawyers deliberately target firms that are too weak to defend themselves when they need money,, because they need a quick "meal" but will go for deeper pockets when they have allegorical fat to store, which could be contrasted to optimal prey selection theory from ecology.

Posted by: Thomas Grossman | May 4, 2010 8:07:18 PM

Dear Professor Smith: A fine article on Saban, which I have forwarded to Mearshiemer and Walt. Walt will tug his chin, nod, and say, knew it all along. Mearshiemer will foam at the mouth and make another speech. Both proving that Pavlov knew what he was talking about.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Posted by: Gregory Koster | May 5, 2010 1:43:09 AM

thank you for your post!

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