The Corner

Looters

One point I haven’t seen mentioned much is the moral hazard of not shooting — or at least seriously clamping down on — the worst looters (again exempting folks looking for water and medicine). People agree to leave their homes and businesses when the government tells them to in part because they are relying on an implied contract that the state will protect their property in their absence. If that promise is worthless, a lot more people will stay behind the next time such an order is given to protect their stuff. Some of them will undoubtedly die. Others will undoubtedly shoot someone.

A second point. I saw the Lousiana Governor try to sound angry last night. She declared that what really makes her angry is that normally disasters bring out the best in people but this is bringing out the worst in some people. I can’t be the only one who thought she sounded like a second grade teacher telling the kids how disappointed she was that they were misbehaving on a class trip. This woman isn’t fit to carry Rudy Giuliani’s (or Margaret Thatcher’s) clipboard.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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