Saturday, July 26, 2008

Batman, Efficient and Libertarian?

Illya Somin (h/t) has a couple of fascinating posts up. First, he excoriates Superman as wasteful:

Tyler offers a few suggestions on what Superman should do to increase the social returns on his investments of time and energy. On a (slightly) less unserious note, I have to admit that one reason why I never much liked the Superman franchise is that the character seems to misallocate his efforts so severely! If you had his powers, would you spend your time chasing a third-rate villain like Lex Luthor (even if played by the great Gene Hackman)? Why not instead overthrow Kim Jong Il or stop the genocide in Darfur? Perhaps the first thing our hypothetical Superman should do is take one of Tyler's economics classes and learn about the concept of opportunity cost.

Batman, on the other hand:

I recently saw the new Batman movie, which is quite good. Overall, I have a much more favorable view of the Batman mythos than of the rival Superman series. Unlike Superman, who often seems to waste his immense powers on relatively minor villains, Batman/Bruce Wayne pays attention to the importance of opportunity costs. For example, he goes after the bigwigs of Gotham organized crime, not the smalltime petty thieves. He consistently attacks the most powerful villains he can realistically take on with the resources available to him.

Somin goes on to explain that Batman exists largely as a response to the ineffective Gotham City government, thereby pointing out the shortcomings of government.

I've long been fond of the Batman mythos, and perhaps because it quietly pings my libertarian Spidey-senses.

Now to change the subject a bit, in other libertarian news, Reason magazine ranked the 35 largest cities in America from least free to most free. Chicago came up as least free, and Las Vegas came up as most free. I was intrigued by the description of Las Vegas' third-term mayor Oscar Goodman, a former top-tier criminal defense attorney:

What’s there to say? Las Vegas is the wildest city in America’s most tolerant state, and Mayor Oscar Goodman wants to make the place even freer. He supports legalizing prostitution in Vegas (the oldest profession is currently legal only in Nevada counties with fewer than 400,000 residents), and is the antithesis of a nanny: When a fourth-grader asked him what he’d take to a deserted island, Goodman said a show girl and a bottle of gin.

I did some more reading on Goodman. I really don't like the idea of government openly promoting sin (as opposed to merely allowing it), but Las Vegas has only thrived under Goodman's tenure. If he runs for President in 2012, I'd like to hear more.

No comments: