In the presidential debates the other night, Harry Browne, the
libertarian candidate (did you think I would waste my time watching Bush
and Gore?), said that the way a free society would handle war is to
offer a prize to the person or persons who assassinated the leader(s) of
the opposing country.  A prize (ala Longitude, see also Robin Hanson's
work) of say 500 million should provide plenty of motivation to guards,
wives, snipers etc.  In this way, a much reduced defense force could be
maintained and it would spare thousands upon thousands of innocent
civilians who we today bomb and kill to try to weaken the leader's

    This principle seems entirely reasonable to me.  Indeed, the only
reason I can think of why we don't do this is that it would work so well
that our own leaders would fear for their lives.  But, as noted above,
we slaughtered tens of thousands of Iraqi's in the Gulf War and continue
to kill many innocent civilians through our embargo (also of course we
subjected tens of thousands of US soldiers to possible death), millions
died in WWII etc. - all this death just to protect a few leaders?  That
is surely monstrous -
although it makes sense from the point of view of the leaders. 

    Are there any good reasons for an anti-assassination policy?

Dr. Alexander Tabarrok
Vice President and Director of Research
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA, 94621-1428
Tel. 510-632-1366, FAX: 510-568-6040

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