David R. Henderson  

Fox News Roundup

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The Not-So Fundamental Attribu... Financial Reform...

My wife and I watch the Fox News Channel more than any other channel. It's not because we agree with everything, or even most of what, they say. My main reasons are twofold:
(1) They bring up issues that the other networks simply don't talk about, some of which I care about a lot, and
(2) They often have an irreverent sense of humor that's refreshing, especially in this age of Obama worship.

(We also often switch between Fox and MSNBC when Rachel Maddow's on because, even though she often shows a fairly cruel sense of humor, she also has a no-BS, dig-into-the-facts attitude.)

Two bizarre things happened the last two nights on Sean Hannity's show that are just crying out for comment. The first doesn't involve economics; the second does.

On Wednesday night, Hannity showed Vice-President Joe Biden so that he could make fund of Biden the way he likes to do with his "liberal translation." Usually, the humor is pretty low-brow and doesn't hit the target, but Biden presented an amazing target that Hannity didn't even aim at. Biden was talking about how in the Senate room in which he was speaking, he had presided over the confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas for Justice of the Supreme Court. While saying it, Biden smiled and unmistakably made the sign of the cross. I thought for sure that Hannity would comment on this, but he didn't. Bizarre.

On Thursday night, Hannity took aim at his favorite target, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs. A reporter had asked Gibbs to name countries that had successful national health care systems. Gibbs said that he couldn't name them. Hannity focused on this. Sounds fine until you see what Hannity and his two guest commentators missed. Directly after saying that he couldn't name those countries, he stated:

I don't think the President's going too far out on a limb to say that some people in those countries have the health care system they like just as Americans like the health care system they have. (emphasis in original)

Americans like the health care system they have? I don't know if that's true or false: how do you generalize about 300 million people? But what's striking is that Gibbs thinks Obama thinks it's true. What's this health care reform all about again? Strikingly, both Hannity, his two guests, and the Heritage blogger who posted on it all missed it. One commenter on the Heritage site, Charles from Virginia, did catch it though. I think that Hannity is just set to find the most obvious thing he can disagree with when it involves Obama or his other political enemies and doesn't actually think.

On Thursday night's The O'Reilly Factor, Megan Kelly, a lawyer whom I often agree with, expressed outrage at the lenient sentence given to NFL player Dante Stallworth. Stallworth had gotten drunk and killed a pedestrian. He was sentenced to only 30 days in prison, two years of home confinement, eight years of probation, and a lifetime prohibition on driving. Kelly was outraged that he wasn't given more prison time. But she herself pointed out that the family of the man killed favored this sentence because Stallworth had made an undisclosed cash settlement with them. She found the sentence unjust. I think it was profoundly just. Stallworth didn't hurt "society." He killed a particular man and he compensated the man's survivors enough that they favored the leniency. Justice is a matter of making it up to the people you hurt. No amount of money can bring this man back to life. But no amount of prison time can either. How would it be more just to make him go to prison when the survivors of the man he killed don't want that? Far too many people, including Kelly, think justice in the case of such a death necessarily involves prison.

One could argue that Stallworth is a danger to society if he gets drunk in the future and gets behind a wheel. Got it covered. Remember the lifetime prohibition on driving.


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COMMENTS (15 to date)

The family can sue for wrongful death. That has nothing to do with the state's (the community and my) interest in jailing a reckless, drunk driver who has killed. I don't care if the family can be bought off. I want to increase the fear in drunk drivers that they will suffer personally, so as to make me somewhat safer.

Arun Eamani writes:

But Mr. Henderson,

You are not considering the systematic effects of the decision, say if the above decision signals to rich people that they can drink and drive and buy their way out it, then this would not lead to "pareto optimal" outcomes for those innocent pedestrians who would be hit even though it may increase the surplus of his relatives.

One must think of the all side effects of a decision in a game which is multi stage

And I will just be silent on the Fox news infomercial!

RV writes:

"One could argue that Stallworth is a danger to society if he gets drunk in the future and gets behind a wheel. Got it covered. Remember the lifetime prohibition on driving."

I guess DH never used a fake Id in school. Or assumes people don't break rules, period. Remember, this guy was caught driving after a few drinks, already breaking existing rules. Whats to prevent him from doing it once more.

This doesn't undo his conclusion. Just a very sloppy argument to get there.

David R. Henderson writes:

RV,
Actually, you're right. I never used a fake ID in school. But to your point: if he did use a fake ID and were caught, then he probably would, under the agreement, go to prison. Not caught driving drunk, just caught driving.
David

ehmoran writes:

Sometimes I get sick of listening to all news.

But, FoxNews is by far the best. When you Cable Search the News stations, which I enjoy to see who's reporting what, I find a much better coverage of all, or most, important events on Fox.

I review probably 300 different News stories per day from all over the World for many different subjects.

From my perspective, FoxNews is by FAR the least biased with very accurate reporting......

RL writes:

DH: "I think that Hannity is just set to find the most obvious thing he can disagree with when it involves Obama or his other political enemies and doesn't actually think."

The insight that Hannity doesn't actually think is correct, but not news, and therefore not ever mentioned on Fox...

If David likes to watch Fox (and, I confess, I do as well), I'm surprised he doesn't comment on the professed libertarian Glenn Beck. Not a day goes by, it seems, when Beck doesn't make a major glaring error of basic economics.

David R. Henderson writes:

Dear RL,
Ever since Whoopi Goldberg on "The View" caught Glenn Beck in a bald-faced lie that he essentially admitted, I have had trouble watching him. Plus he's entirely too cutesy for my taste. I tend to like almost everyone I meet, but he's one person I have a visceral dislike for.
Best,
David

RV writes:

DH,

My previous post was unnecessarily snarky. My apologies. Thanks for your reply.

Kurbla writes:
    But she herself pointed out that the family of the man killed favored this sentence because Stallworth had made an undisclosed cash settlement with them. She found the sentence unjust. I think it was profoundly just. Stallworth didn't hurt "society." He killed a particular man and he compensated the man's survivors enough that they favored the leniency.

So, if one has no survivors, he can be killed for free. Or even worse, why not killing whole family then - until no one is left for compensation.

David R. Henderson writes:

Kurbla,
No. I was talking about a case where he had survivors and, admittedly, I was assuming they cared a great deal for him. I wasn't talking about a case with no survivors. I don't see how you think your case follows from what I said.
David

George writes:

While saying it, Biden smiled and unmistakably made the sign of the cross. I thought for sure that Hannity would comment on this, but he didn't. Bizarre.

Biden was once again demonstrating that his "Catholic faith" is a joke to him, useful only for triggering the Pavlovian reflex arc that makes many Catholics flip the Democratic lever on Tuesdays in November.

Perhaps Hannity doesn't consider that particular piece of gross cynicism (which is hardly limited to the VP) newsworthy anymore. Or maybe he figures ridiculing Biden reached an untouchable zenith with this piece. Maybe he similarly expects presidential spokesmen to say moronic things off the cuff, and doesn't see any point in pointing them out when they'll just be backtracked over and forgotten. Beats me.

As for Fox News: Why would you, David, watch any TV news when you can talk to Arnold, Bryan, or countless other more-interesting people? Don't you worry that it's making you less intelligent? Even Charlie Rose's guests frequently make me cringe and slap my forehead (though not as much as Charlie himself does).

Joshua writes:

David has responded to some critiques of his reasoning regarding Stallworth and justice but not the critique regarding the signalling and incentives it creates... what incentive does this give rich drunkards to avoid killing pedestrians when the loss of a few millions is significantly less than the loss of a time period as a free citizen?

(In other words, you have argued that justice was serviced within the domain of this situation, but remember that first rule of economics... you can never only do one thing. What is your take on the incentives and potential unintended consequences?)

David R. Henderson writes:

Joshua,
You're right. I didn't respond to it. Often I need time to respond to thoughtful comments such as the one you refer to. I assume you mean the comment by Arun Eamani. Now that I've had time to think about it, here is my response.
I think Arun Eamani, and presumably you, have a different view of justice from mine. My view is that injustice is done only to individuals and that a justice system should rectify that. The man Dante Stallworth killed was the only one hurt. He rectified it to the extent one can.
You seem to be arguing that you want the justice system to give a disincentive to doing things to others that one hasn't done yet. That's a reasonable view. And it's one I used to accept. I'm not sure I do any more.
But let's say I did. You would still need to argue that the penalty wasn't high enough. Neither you nor Arun Eamani has established that.
Best,
David

Joshua writes:

David,
I likewise would need time to think about a response. Whether or not we establish the penalty was high enough I think I have a better grasp of the points of view in contention... Perhaps I have always implicitly held that the justice system should give disincentives to limit future victims as well as provide justice for the victim.

They are both quite natural assumptions that I don't think I have spent much time recognizing or considering (although I would be curious to hear your views expounded, especially if they have changed and why, although that may not be within the scope of this post and/or overall blog - but I think it could be) Thank you for your reply.

Bill writes:

Dr Henderson,

Wasn't the resolution of the Beck/Goldberg Amtrak blow-up that Beck had not lied and that Goldberg and Walters had? That Walters did, indeed, have a reserved seat and police escort which are not available to normal people? That he never claimed that Walters had approached him?

Here are links:
http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/196/26163/
http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=352443

Are the stories at these links inaccurate? What lie did he tell and what's the evidence?


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