Response to Irina D. Manta, The High Cost of Low Sanctions
Professor Irina Manta deftly combines insights from behavioral economics, political theory, and legal analysis in her piece The High Cost of Low Sanctions. Her central argument is that a seemingly reasonable political compromise can backfire in troubling ways. Specifically, the decision to enact a framework of low or minimal sanctions to discourage unwanted (but not universally condemned) behavior can lead over time to a gradual increase in sanctions and a growing disconnect from citizens’ political preferences. This progression creates a risk of unjust application of the law and a fundamentally anti-democratic outcome that is resistant to repeal through the political process.