Dirty Harry and Dearthy Hairy Discuss Dirty, Hairy Guvmint

Clint Eastwood on the March 15 Chris Matthews show:

MATTHEWS: What about here at home? Do you think this country has moved too much government? When you hear the word government, are you happy with it?

EASTWOOD: No, no. I have always been a small-government person.

I think a good way [to] really screw something up is to get the government involved. It's just too large. It's too clumsy. It's too bureaucratic. It doesn't move smoothly. I do believe in the energy and the productivity of the American business world. And I think that's the way to get things done. That's what built the country. I think that is what will continue to build it.

MATTHEWS: A good part of this, it seems to me, is still -- pretty libertarian. In other words, we have pretty lenient gun laws. You can own a gun in this country. You can carry a gun or you can keep one. Abortion rights, basically, people sort of accept that. They don't like it, but they leave it up to the individual. Do you think that's -- do you think that's true?

EASTWOOD: Yes, I think that's true.

I think those are sort of libertarian. And I think -- sometimes, I kind of -- I kind of include myself in that group, because they do have the things that the Republicans stood for years ago and don't so much anymore. And then, of course, the liberals aren't on the liberal side. Liberals are not always so liberal with people who disapprove -- disapprove of their point of view.

MATTHEWS: But Bush isn't exactly a libertarian, is he? He's getting involved with tort reform. He's getting involved with...

EASTWOOD: Yes, well...

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Umm, about that header ...

  • ||

    EASTWOOD IN '08
    (Just how old is he, anyway?)

  • R C Dean||

    I missed the part where tort reform is unlibertarian.

  • ||

    He's 75. A healthy 75 years old, but still.

  • ||

    He'll be 78 in 2008 --

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000142/

    -- about as old as Reagan was when he left office. But heck, medical science has advanced in the past 25 years... ;)

  • ||

    Tort reform is unlibertarian. Libertarians tend not to believe in a regulatory state, but they do believe in the individual's right to seek relief from a personal grievance through judicial means.

  • ||

    "Abortion rights, basically, people sort of accept that. They don't like it, but they leave it up to the individual"

    I still don't know how to italicize on here. perhaps someone could explain it to me, please.

    Anyway, "They don't like it" sounds like a bit of projection to me. Matthews doesn't like it, but a lot of people do.

  • ||

    "Tort reform is unlibertarian."

    Not all that is "unlibertarian" is bad.
    Without tort reform, a select few get lucky with the tort lottery and the rest of us pay out of our ass. Millions of people lack health insurance, and the price of it is increasing at 3 times the rate of inflation. It's time for a change.

  • ||

    andy,
    [i]before the first piece of test you want to italicise
    [/i]after the last piece of text you want to italicise
    use less than symbol instead of '[' and greater than symbol instead of ']'. Hope it helps.

    I also believe that data has shown that the cost of malpractice does not have a major effect in the cost of health care (I believe it's something between 3-10%). The majority of the increase in cost is due to newer, more effective (and expensive) treatments available.

  • ||

    "Not all that is 'unlibertarian' is bad."

    Blasphemy!

  • ||

    Clint Eastwood is the coolest man alive not named William Shatner.

  • ||

    Mo: You would have a hard time convincing many Florida doctors that tort reform has little to do with the cost of medicine. Many are moving out of state because of high mal-practise insurance and many more are refusing to accept new patients. In theory I believe in the right to sue for recovery of damages. However, Florida tort laws are out of control. The voters have passed a couple of state constitutional amendments to try to get a handle on this. One deals with pulling the right to practise medicine in Florida if a doctor is proven to malpractise three times. The other limits by law the percentage of the take that tort lawyers can extort from their clients.

    Needless to say some ambulance chasers are leaving the state. Just hope that they move to your state!!

  • ||

    Thanks Mo

  • Warren||

    "Yes well" Mr. Eastwood!?
    I don't like where that's going.

    All that is unlibertarian is most assuredly Bee Ay Dee. However, not all tort reform is unlibertarian. Affirmative opt-in class action i.e.

  • ||

    GUYK,

    There are those (and can you guess I'm one of them?) who would point out to you that there is another very odd business failure that has nothing to do with tort reform that is causing Floridas problem. A doctor who has had repeated reprimands, and repeated suits, is charged the same premium as the excellent doctor. Of course the docs can also blame themselves too, 'cause in Florida it is amost impossible to lose your md certs, even if you are the most evil dr doom in town. So...when they won't police themselves, and the insurance companies won't use tried and true business methods (like they do to us the avg joes), well, not much left but the courts. Tort reform there just means more bad medicine. Even if it does seem to make sense, it's still government protecting interested parties from appropiate liabiltiy.

  • ||

    Clint served as mayor for some California town a decade or two, and decided politics weren't for him.

    I'd be very surprised if he runs for any office.

  • ||

    skeptikos: you are absolutly correct and of course this is part of the problem. The medical profession is not lily white. However, in some cases such as brain surgery, advanced cancer surgery, abnormal child birth, etc, the risk is high to start with and those being treated and their families know this going in. They are willing to take one chance in 100 that their life can be saved yet afterwards the family sues for mal-practise. Go figure

  • ||

    Oh yeah, private business is so much more efficient.......at stealing, and cheating, and lying, and fudging the fucking books, and fucking consumers, and killing people because of dangerous working conditions, and poisoning the environment, and destroying retirements.....Gee, can't we just get rid of the pesky government and let private business fuck us instead of the DMV?

  • b-psycho||

    The transformation of the court system into a tool for a get-rich-quick scheme is UnLibertarian. And so is payment caps.

    The problem is in what makes it to trial in the first place IMO.

  • ||

    kmw--

    Clint was mayor of Carmel for several (?) years. I don't think he misses it.

    GUYK--

    I voted against these propositions because I believed (and still do) that they would create (dis)incentives for undesirable behavior. But I tend to agree with Skeptikos about the lack of professional self-policing by physicians. I mean, come on, three times before losing your license? And this is supposed to be an improvement! If the medical profession boards in Florida had been doing their self-policing jobs, it never would have gotten to the point of having such a ballot initiative. And now no one will ever lose his/her license for anything less than three judgements.

  • ||

    Oh yeah, private business is so much more efficient.......at stealing, and cheating, and lying, and fudging the fucking books, and fucking consumers, and killing people because of dangerous working conditions, and poisoning the environment, and destroying retirements.....Gee, can't we just get rid of the pesky government and let private business fuck us instead of the DMV?


    Absolutely. If I'm gonna be fucked over, then definitely by someone more efficient and less expensive than government.

    Jackass.

  • ||

    Besides, Vinnie, what sort of recourse do you have if the government fucks you? I'll answer that for you: nothing!

  • ||

    Not all that is "unlibertarian" is bad.

    Andy, you have been marked for immediate reassignment to the Mises Institute for Reeducation. Don't worry, we'll mail you your clothes.

    Tort reform strikes me as overtly unlibertarian and statist. What you're essentially saying is that Congress is in a better position to decide who should be rewarded for what than is a jury of ordinary citizens.

    Do people seriously believe that "tort reform" exists in order to lower costs to the consumer? Sounds like more trickle down economic bullshit to me. Capping monetary awards would do nothing but raise the acceptable level of fraud and abuse a corporation can commit before the price of fixing it falls below the price of paying off a class action suit.

    Absolutely. If I'm gonna be fucked over, then definitely by someone more efficient and less expensive than government.

    Yea, well, some of us aren't so keen on having the trains run on time when they're taking us to Dachau.

  • ||

    Oh yeah, private business is so much more efficient.......at stealing, and cheating, and lying, and fudging the fucking books, and fucking consumers, and killing people because of dangerous working conditions, and poisoning the environment, and destroying retirements.....Gee, can't we just get rid of the pesky government and let private business fuck us instead of the DMV?

    You need a thesaurus.

    Maybe the government will give you one.

  • ||

    The Right�s view of government and the Left�s view of big business are both correct.

  • ||

    RAW,

    True, but the government takes my money at gun-point. Businesses only get my money if I choose to give it to them.

  • ||

    Chuck: I voted against the amendmemnts mostly because I am against mob rule. I saw the amendment on pigs make Florida a joke to the rest of the nation. Citizen initatives are okay if they are logical. But, it seems that every crackpot in Florida wants a new amendment to support their agenda. Enough money to publicise the rhectoric and BINGO a new amendment without the money to support it. High speed rails and limited classroom sizes are good ideas--provided the money is there to pay for them. But the ones who push these agendas figure that someone else is going to support them. And, never forget a state minimum wage law. I have several small business owner friends who are already planning to shut the doors. The new law just doesn't give them enough profit margin to make it worth while.

  • ||

    Vinnie,

    I'm a loon for biting, but here I go.

    If I interpret your sarcasm correctly, you're saying that the government doesn't steal, cheat, lie, fudge the fucking books, fuck consumers, and kill people because of dangerous working conditions, poison the environment, and destroy retirements as badly as does private enterprise.

    Hmmm, the last time a business took my money without permission, I called them and they returned it. The last time the government took my money without permission was last Friday to the amount of several hundred dollars.

    I'm not sure how cheating differs from stealing by your intent so I'll have to leave that one alone.

    The last time a company lied to me, I cancelled my subscription and considered reporting them to the BBB, for whatever that's worth. The last time my government lied to me was our President's poor lying performance when asked about deporting suspects for torture. I tend to think that my loss paled in comparison to a suspect who was innocent.

    The last time a company fudged the fucking books, the company went bankrupt, several executive officers of the company went to jail, several billion dollars in investments went down the toilet and several competetitors enjoyed a windfall by picking up the pieces for bargains. The last time the government fudged the fucking books, our Legislative and Executive branches passed a bill that promises to cost us trillions of dollars more than previously disclosed.

    Companies fuck consumers pretty often, so I can't guess the last time it happened. If the consumer was a lawyer, there was probably a class action lawsuit filed in bumfuck Indiana in class action heaven, the lawyer ran for Congress using his winnings, and the company's prices went up by 3% to pay for the lawyers, the settlement, and their new lobbyists to lobby the new Congressman. If the consumer was not a lawyer and the amount wasn't very large, the consumer probably took it up the butt. The government doesn't much service consumers, except to dispense documents for cash. So, in that government doesn't make automobiles, computers, clothes, paper, pens, food, furniture, adhesives, lumber, tools, or really anything that anybody uses for anything other than displaying to another government representative, the answer would be no. The government doesn't much fuck the consumer aside from taking four hours to print a plastic card with my name and picture on it.

    The last time a company killed somebody with dangerous working conditions, with which I am familiar, they were working for the government and following government regulations. The last time the government killed somebody with dangerous working conditions might have been while they were driving their Humvee with a dilapidated piece of corrugated aluminum nailed to the door.

    Now when companies get unambiguously caught poisoning the environment, the EPA comes down on them like a ton of bricks. I'm certain that they are not caught far more than they are caught and that they scoot by on technicalities and uncertainties far too often. Now when the government gets unambiguously caught poisoning the environment, they secure the area from civilian access and hire guards to keep people from finding out what is going on there. Guess who pollutes more.

    Now, retirements. My retirement money is exclusively in private companies. My money has earned well over 8% per year on average over the past ten years. I took a big hurt during the bomb, but I've far more than recovered. On the other hand, the retirement money that is being taken on my behalf by the government, will earn somewhere between 0% and negative infinity percent, guaranteed.

    Thanks for your indulgence.

  • ||

    Sorry, that would be simply negative 100%. "Negative infinity" did sound too bad/good to be true.

  • ||

    Businesses only get my money if I choose to give it to them.

    Well, I'm sure you can "choose" not to eat, drive a car without insurance, or recieve medical care. But if you want to live, you're going to pay business cartels whatever they damn well tell you to pay and be happy with it. Some "choice."

    Of course there's always the old "well it's not big business' fault, its the government regulations!" As if each isn't the others' biggest fan.

    If you want the beast to die you have to kill both heads.

  • ||

    Rimfax,

    I am requesting your formal consent to print and frame the reply you just left.

  • ||

    "Well, I'm sure you can "choose" not to eat, drive a car without insurance, or recieve medical care. But if you want to live, you're going to pay business cartels whatever they damn well tell you to pay and be happy with it. Some 'choice.'"

    Robert, what world do you live in? What cartel controls grocery prices? Christ, I can buy from at least 4 different grocery stores within a couple miles of my house. Profit margins in groceries are razor thin from the competition. The amazing abundance of products available (at prices so low that our biggest problem now is eating too much food) to choose from would astound 99% of the people that have ever lived on this planet. All of this, from production to transportation to retailing is a result of your dreaded "big business."

    As for car insurance, we can argue about the effect of government mandated insurance, but that is a function of government policy, not big business. That issue notwithstanding, there is a whole array of competing insurance companies. Where's your evidence for a cartel in insurance markets? They simply cannot charge what they want, or I'll go somewhere else.

    And medical care - well yes, there is a cartel in medical care because of licensing requirements, but that is entirely government created and supported, so no need to even address the business aspects of that.

    Sure, big business is self interested and would love to avoid the heavy lifting of being productive and competing to earn a profit. If they can get the government to just take your money, it's no surprise that they will extend some effort to that end. But the remedy is removing that avenue of enrichment (and the avenue of monopoly and true cartels, to be sure). But without that power, business cannot take anything you don't choose to give them. And, since you don't have a right to force anyone to give you food, insurance or medical care either, it is indeed a "choice."

  • ||

    They are willing to take one chance in 100 that their life can be saved yet afterwards the family sues for mal-practise. Go figure

    And they usually lose. The incidence of people actually winning suits against high risks doctors like those you mention are actually fairly low. And I grant that it still does cost the doctor money to fight the suits, but it seems to me that the system would be better suited by instituting a "loser pays" system for lawsuits, rather than tying the hands of juries, which will only make it harder the nail that one doctor in 100 who gets caught for an eighth time after his insurance company bails him out.

  • ||

    wait a sec... was that the real Wilson? He's the freakin man.

  • ||

    Anyone who has served on jury duty would probably notice how ignorant and emotional a typical pool is. The lawyers are masters at stacking the juries in their favor.

    It's not about discovering and examining the truth, it all has to do with manipulation. I think malpractice cases should only be before elected judges, and be a "loser pays" system.

  • ||

    "True, but the government takes my money at gun-point. Businesses only get my money if I choose to give it to them."

    Unfortunately, Big Business is in cahoots w/ the govmint, which means that they'll get more money than they deserve in the end, albeit they don't "force" you to give them your $$$.

  • ||

    Eastwood's going to be 5k-healthy at 95, so age isn't an issue.

  • ||

    but it seems to me that the system would be better suited by instituting a "loser pays" system for lawsuits, rather than tying the hands of juries

    Bingo. The Brits appear to be doing quite well with a "loser pays" system. I think they also mandate that compensation, in the event of a guilty verdict, be determined by judges rather than juries.

  • ||

    wait a sec... was that the real Wilson? He's the freakin man

    No it isn't, raw fan. Robert Anton Wilson's dead, didn't you hear?

    Eris

  • ||

    wait a sec... was that the real Wilson? He's the freakin man

    No it isn't, raw fan. Robert Anton Wilson's dead, didn't you hear?

    No I'm not!

  • David Nieporent||

    Tort reform is unlibertarian. Libertarians tend not to believe in a regulatory state, but they do believe in the individual's right to seek relief from a personal grievance through judicial means.

    Yes, and hence "outlawing torts" might be a problem. But "tort reform" does not mean abolishing the right to file a lawsuit. It just changes some of the current procedures. It's not as if the ones we have now were handed down at Mt. Sinai. Many of the currently fashionable doctrines in tort law are only a few decades old. There's nothing wrong with the idea of changing them.

    Many tort suits are perfectly legitimate. But many simply involve using the power of government to redistribute money from a less popular group to a more popular group. Gun manufacturers to crime victims, for instance. That's certainly not libertarian.

    (And libertarians may not believe in regulation -- but if we're going to have it, shouldn't we have regulation by legislature rather than regulation by 12 people who couldn't get out of jury duty?)

    ---------------

    there is another very odd business failure that has nothing to do with tort reform that is causing Floridas problem. A doctor who has had repeated reprimands, and repeated suits, is charged the same premium as the excellent doctor.

    There are three possibilities:

    1) There's a law against charging different amounts based on risk.
    2) Insurance companies are being utterly irrational.
    3) The legal system has become so much of a lottery that lawsuits have so little to do with actual quality of care that insurance companies are rational in not using them as a measure of doctor risk.

    For some reason, of those three possibilities, many people leap to the conclusion that the least likely one -- the second -- is true.

    People sometimes behave irrationally. But it's unlikely that entire industries do.

  • ||

    Tort reform is unlibertarian. Libertarians tend not to believe in a regulatory state, but they do believe in the individual's right to seek relief from a personal grievance through judicial means.

    I don't think tort reform is inherantly unlibertarian. If we are to have government financed "judicial means" (archno-capitalists are libertarians who might not agree with the need for "judicial means"), then that "judicial means" should operate under a fair and well thought out system. Our current systems places too much potential power in the hands of those who want to get wealthy suing others; it is a defacto attack on property rights. Libertarians should embrace tort reform, they should just be careful of the details . . .

  • ||

    also believe that data has shown that the cost of malpractice does not have a major effect in the cost of health care (I believe it's something between 3-10%).

    Hard to say; our tort system discourages newer, more effective and efficient treatments. An example (muddied due to FDA ban): silicon breast implants are forbidden, driving up costs of medical silicon, and probably impeading research.

    So there are hidden costs to our tort system. Your 3-10% is a systematic undercount.

    The majority of the increase in cost is due to newer, more effective (and expensive) treatments available.

    No, newer, more effective treatments reduce costs. An MRI might be expensive, but not having one is even more expensive.

    It is really things like medicare and employeer provided insurance that drives up costs by driving up demand w/o respect for costs.

  • ||

    I don't think tort reform is inherently libertarian. I do think the State-run judicial system is so incompetent and poorly run that it encourages frivolous lawsuits. Private arbitration is a growing business, and if we didn't have the State-run system there would be increased private competition to find better ways to find fault and award damages justly.

    Maybe we should adapt something from the ancient Athenian way of deciding penalties. Two parties bring a conflict for resolution before a court. First, the court decides who is in the wrong. Then the prosecution (or plaintiff) suggests a penalty or damages. Then the defense suggests a counter penalty or damages. Then the jury chooses between the two.

    The prosecution has an incentive to pick a penalty/damages that sounds reasonable and not extreme, lest the jury pick the defense's suggestion -- and the same for the defense. As compared to our tort system, which encourages people to ask for ridiculously high damages, because what have you got to lose? Might as well shoot for the moon -- and the more extreme you get, the better your bargaining position for settling out of court.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement