In Bootleggers & Baptists: How Economic Forces and Moral Persuasion Interact to Shape Regulatory Politics, economists Bruce Yandle and Adam Smith explain how money and morality are often combined in politics to produce arbitrary regulations benefiting cronies, while constraining productive economic activities by the general public.
Local police killed Sal Culosi by accident. The police union is now howling over mild discipline.
Federal police pay restitution to Brandon Mayfield after telling the world he was a terrorist. Taxpayers foot the bill. No mention of agents disciplined. But unspecified “reforms” are now in place at the FBI “to avoid a similar mistake in the future.” Similar assurances followed the Richard Jewell case, but that was then.
On the intelligence side, federal agents are fighting the Al-Masri case. Al-Masri says the CIA mistook him for a terrorist and had him “rendered” to Afghanistan, where he was imprisoned for months, abused and mistreated. When Al-Masri filed a civil suit against federal officials, the government’s response was that if this lawsuit were to proceed, government secrets would be revealed. This case is “developing,” as they say …