It’s laborious to know what the suitable penalties ought to be for any crime. However we are able to nonetheless take one thing from the economics of crime and apply it to the Paul Pelosi scenario.
Right here’s what Lisa Mascaro, Stefanie Dazio, and Terry Chea write in “Paul Pelosi Assault: Suspect Faces State and Federal Prices,” NBC Bay Space, November 1, 2022:
Moreover, DePape is charged federally with influencing, impeding, or retaliating towards a federal official by threatening or injuring a member of the family. He additionally faces one depend of tried kidnapping of a United States official on account of the efficiency of official duties.
In different phrases, as a result of David DePape allegedly [I say “allegedly” to save myself from a lawsuit] attacked the husband of a politician, he faces fees along with those that he would have confronted if he had attacked me.
One of many path-breaking articles within the economics of crime was Gary Becker’s “Crime and Punishment: An Financial Strategy,” revealed within the March/April 1968 version of the Journal of Political Economic system. I keep in mind working my means by way of it in an intermediate microeconomics course that Kenneth Avio taught on the College of Western Ontario within the 1971-72 educational yr. The underside line that I took away from the article is that the upper the chance of catching a prison, the decrease ought to be the penalty the prison faces.
How is that related within the DePape case? It just about must be true that somebody who assaults the husband of a lady who’s second in line for the U.S. presidency (solely after Vice-President Kamala Harris) has a excessive chance of being caught. This chance is far greater than the chance that the police would catch somebody who assaulted me. In order that signifies that the penalty for assaulting Paul Pelosi ought to be decrease than the penalty for assaulting me, not greater as it’s at the moment.
In fact you possibly can argue that it’s extra vital to guard kin of politicians than to guard me as a result of assaulting the relative might intimidate the politician and take her away from her helpful work.
The issue with that line of reasoning is that then we must make some judgment concerning the worth of Speaker Pelosi’s work versus the worth of mine. Hmmm.
Postscript: My bio of Gary Becker in David R. Henderson, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics is right here. The image above is of him.