Escalation and Obedience

Source: EconLog
by Bryan Caplan

“Airports and airlines, governed by federal law, never relaxed their mask mandate, even for the fully vaccinated. Yet if you actually fly nowadays, you’ll notice plenty of scofflaws on the ground and in the sky. Which raises a big question: What exactly is the punishment for failing to wear a mask? Until you board the plane, the punishment is simply: An authority orders you to put on your mask. Once they’re out of sight, you can safely remove your mask until another authority orders you to put on your mask. … Escalation. If you really pay attention, that’s the standard mechanism of government coercion. You can break most of the laws most of the time. But once you’re on the government’s radar, they keep ramping up the punishment until you back down.” (01/04/22)