Is Batman libertarian?
Interesting post from Ilya Somin on Volokh Conspiracy about the libertarian themes in Dark Knight.
Bruce Wayne is a billionaire businessman and his control of Wayne Enterprises is viewed as essential to his crimefighting activities. At times, the Batman movies even hint at the possibility that big businessmen actually have a self-interested incentive to help provide the public good of reducing violent crime. After all, they stand to lose a lot of profit if high crime rates reduce investment and drive away their customers and skilled workers. Precisely because of the vast size of his firm, Wayne has less incentive to free ride on the crime-fighting efforts of others in providing the public good of crime control. He will capture enough of the benefits of crime-fighting to justifying investing in it, even if he has to pay a very high proportion of the costs himself.
But will the message get through that members of society have a strong self-interest to resolve problem sans government programs, because in general government programs are ineffectual?
One of Charlie Mallow's consistent themes in comments on The Batavian is that people are unwilling to see the government cut spending because eventually, it means cuts to their favorite programs. Maybe if Batman's message of self-sacrifice as part of enlightened self-interest gets through, such cuts will be more palatable to the general public.
Also interersting point near the end of the post (if you go past the spoiler alert) about how, in the end, the idealistic individual whom people expect to save us from a government gone wrong will eventually prove not up to the task. Obama fans drawn more to his image than his policies might want to read that part of the post and pounder the point.