10 - Why benefits to criminals count A The lost hunter...

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Why benefits to criminals count: A. The lost hunter problem. o 1. If a hunter is lost and starving and comes to a locked, empty cabin containing food and a telephone, it is efficient for him to break in. o 2. Because the benefit to him is greater than the loss to the owner. o 3. Which seems right--but only if we are allowed to count the benefit to him. B. Even if you want to deter it, how much do you want to deter it? o 1. Deterrence is costly. o 2. Its benefit is the net gain from deterring an offense. o 3. Which is greater the greater the damage done to the victim, but also ... o 4. Greater the less the gain to the offender. o 5. We are willing to pay more to deter an act of arson committed for the fun of watching buildings burn than to prevent a hungry man from stealing food--and would be even if the total damage done to the victims was the same (the hungry man steals lots of food over a period of years, say). C . How do we know what is bad before we know what is inefficient? o 1. Part of the attraction of the economic analysis of law is that we can start with one very simple "moral" assumption--the desirability of economic efficiency-- o 2. And deduce from that that robbery and murder ought to be illegal, contracts ought to be enforced, ... o 3. If we start out already knowing that robbery is bad, hence gains to robbers don't count, we are rigging the game--guaranteeing that we will get out as efficiency what we put in as ethics.
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