Dog and Tabarrok on Stossel

John Stossel’s show this week was about defending the indefensible. Naturally, I was invited. When I turned up at the studio, I was amused to find that so were many of my friends! David Boaz and Nick Gillespie took on child labor, organ sales and insider trading, Robin Hanson defended blackmail (no clip yet but here are his posts) and in this clip, Stossel talks to Dog and myself about bounty hunting.

FYI, here is my JLE piece with Eric Helland and my adventures in bounty hunting piece from The Wilson Quarterly.


It seems like there are two separate issues. One is that Bail Bonds companies make a fortune on criminals who do show up. That doesn't make any economic sense. If a criminal doesn't show up then maybe paying a bounty hunter to go catch the guy might be a good policy. But that's just a different issue. Remember that if someone can't afford the bail then taxpayers have to pay for them to stay in jail.

So according to Boaz, tripling the price of generators in an emergency gets them to the people who have the most need,rather than to those who have the most money? And of course, if you can't triple the price you'll just give the generator away? Interesting thought.

I understand the basic argument here, but sometimes these statements get more than a bit ridiculous.

I think they sound more ridiculous when people fixate on only one aspect of it, the immediate transaction and the idea that some rich guy is stockpiling numerous generators he can't hope to use (why would he do that?). But consider the entire market for generators. If I'm a marginal generator owner a thousand miles away, a price increase might get me over the hump to put it up on e-bay (or not buy a spare) where someone close might buy it and add to generator liquidity in the disaster area. Think of all the gold coming out of people's drawers and the trash silver that broke the Hunt brothers. Rich guys aren't worth fixating on.

Maybe they should ask Sumner to offer his defense of EMH? Or Henderson for his defense of inequality.

someone who is a size 8.5 would get a size 9 in the Dakota, but may also have a size 7 in the Classic Short.

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