Doctor Science Knows

Monday, September 22, 2008

White-collar deterrance

I've left versions of this comment hither & yon. This one is from Bailout at Obsidian Wings:

You say "petulance" and "high moral dudgeon", I say "deterrance."

Stanley Hauerwas is a great theologian, scholar, ethicist, and proponent of non-violence. In Performing the Faith: Bonhoeffer and the Practice of Nonviolence he argues against the "capital punishment has a deterrant effect" position, by saying (paraphrased), "if we really wanted to see effective deterrance, we'd have public executions on Wall Street for insider trading, and it would probably work."

I'm sure Hauerwas is being ironic and doesn't *really* believe in capital punishment for white-collar crime, but I think there's a lot to be said for direct, shaming punishment of wealthy malefactors. It's the Stan Lee principle for avoiding moral hazard: "With great power comes great responsibility, and also serious personal consequences when you f*ck up."

Vengence and schadenfreude are all very well, but what I want to see is some *deterrance*.

Meanwhile, at echidne's post about executive compensation, commenter Dr. Wu writes:
I am concerned that among your various proposals for achieving a long-term solution, you have not given sufficient consideration to the idea of identifying the best of the "smart and clever financial managers" and eating them.

It's a proposal, he said modestly.

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