Thursday, August 09, 2007

A light sprinkling III

Or, Thus endeth the Banaian trilogy

In his comment to the original King Banaian and the Ford Pinto post, the professor said this:

"...although it was reduced by an appeals court."

The speed with which you ran past that point is truly amazing. Are you a greyhound?

We teach courses in the economic analysis of law, which would have explained for you the decision of the appellate court in that case to reduce punitive damages to the minimum needed to deter bad behavior. See Cooter. The most famous book of these is written by Richard Posner, who sits on the Sixth Circuit. You might wish to rail against him for awhile. Like about this post applying cost-benefit analysis to Katrina. He's much more famous than me, you might get more hits.

(Some of my thoughts come from studying his work. See this review of his 2004 book, Catastrophe: Risk and Response.)

Actually, Professor, Judge Posner sits on the 7th Circuit. And wonder of wonders, he also lectures at the University of Chicago Law School, which sits cheek-by-jowl with the likes of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand. It perhaps doesn't surprise you, boys and girls, to know that Spot takes his direction in social philosophy elsewhere.

The professor misapprehends Spot's point. Spot was saying that when a jury is faced with the cold, calculating application of the cost-benefit analysis to human life, it tends to react very negatively. It's kind of the John Q. Public reaction. Since the bridge collapse was a political event, it is the public reaction that will count. That everyone on the conservative side—you, Michael Brodkorb, Bob Huge, et al.—are working so hard at keeping the Republicans from getting fingered for this is proof of that fact.

Spot mentioned the reduction of the punitive damage award--to a mere 3.5 million dollars twenty years ago--because it happened, not because it had anything to do with Spot's point.

The general public is not, frankly, going to care what Dick Posner thinks. And you can wave Posner in front of Spot like a little silver cross, and that won't do any good either.

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