Localized Laughter



Mistakes because some people know what others don't have long been a motivating force behind TV sitcomedy. A new cartoon sitcom on the Fox Network, King of the Hill, also grapples with dispersed knowledge and inevitable error and manages to be not only funny but positively Hayekian.

King of the Hill's central characters–the Texan Hill family of dad Hank, his wife Peggy, and son Bobby–are decent people often running afoul of a consistently mistaken government. In the premiere episode, an aggravatingly effete, overeducated know-it-all of a social worker tries to take Hank's son away from him because Hank occasionally gets cross with the wayward boy. The social worker's ignorance of the actual dynamics of this real, specific family leads him to temporarily ruin it. The normally polite youngster becomes a terror when he realizes old dad can't discipline him at all without risking the state's taking him away.

In a later episode, hysterical enviros and park rangers hound Hank and son when they mistakenly think the boy has killed a rare whooping crane. Both plots portray modern government and statist busybodies as jumping to wrong conclusions, straight into error. Hayek couldn't have expressed the problems with state intrusion in areas of inherently localized knowledge and necessary ignorance any better.