Incentives matter!

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I try hard not to be overly judgmental of different parts of the political spectrum.  I know lovely people of many different political persuasions, and I resent  the tendency to demonize opponents.  Partly that’s the golden rule, and partly it’s that the fact that I don’t think I’m always guaranteed to be right.  Obviously I think I’m right, but I am not so arrogant as to think I know the only way to be right.

But I’m gonna go ahead and slam America’s political left today anyway.  Because they seem to really struggle with this whole notion of “incentives.”

Of course, in the gun world, we are familiar with the deterrent effect of firearms on criminals.  Pointing a gun at someone seems to reduce their criminal proclivities enormously in a remarkably short space of time.  Even the imminent arrival of guns, portended by police sirens, can cause criminals to flee.  And more broadly, a well-armed population is a far less attractive target than a disarmed one, which is why so many mass shootings occur at schools rather than, say, police stations.  There is room for debate around how much deterrent a tiny proportion of the honest population carrying causes to the great mass of criminals; the odds of being shot by a victim are still very low, so it may not be that great.  But it is probably not zero.  All of this is flatly denied by the left.

And now we have a journalism school professor saying that the First Amendment doesn’t cover insults to Islam because some Muslims might kill you.  I’m not going to go into the legal fallacies, which are ably explained by James Taranto.  I just want to hammer on the ludicrous incentive this provides.  Kill people, and we’ll bend the law to suit you?  It’s a flabbergasting argument.  Not only does France need more gun control (because disarmed victims aren’t yet vulnerable enough) but also, but the government must suppress free speech to satisfy to the demands of extremists willing to use violence.  That is precisely backward.

The Declaration of Independence memorably describes the purpose of government as securing the inalienable, God-given rights of the people.  Thomas Hobbs, no friend of democracy, argued that the legitimacy of even an absolute, ;unelected monarch was derived from his ability to protect the people, and if he failed to do so, he forfeited his right to rule.  The reason we tolerate taxes and zoning rules and pettifogging bureaucrats is because, for the most part, the government keeps the peace and keeps bad people locked up where they belong.  The government should be giving people reasons to behave themselves and not harm others.

For some reason, some people seem determined to not only discourage the government from doing its actual job of protecting natural rights, but to actively ENCOURAGE people to violate our rights–by rewarding their criminal and terroristic behavior with government-enforced penalties for VICTIMS.

Words fail me.

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