According to the Orlando Sentinel, a tall pine tree growing near the spot where little Caylee Anthony’s remains were discovered was struck by lightning yesterday, only hours after the world learned that Mother of the Year [in Hell] Casey Anthony would be released from prison next week after having already served time for her convictions on providing false information to law enforcement.
“It could be a sign from the angels that they aren’t happy with what’s happened,” said one woman quoted by the Sentinel. “It’s a sad day for Orlando, for Caylee and for justice. The rain, the lightning, the storm — it’s the heavens indicating they aren’t happy.”
Another woman, gazing up at the damaged tree trunk, told the Sentinel: “That is what I call Karma.”
Now, I cannot say that I disagree with the first woman. It is very difficult to be satisfied knowing that Ms. Anthony, who quite obviously had something to do with her daughter’s death or cover-up, will be free to party, write books and sell movie deals by mid-month. With regard to the second woman, however, I could not disagree more.
If it had indeed been Karma, the lightning would have struck Casey Anthony herself.
All that being said, while I’ve tried to remain quiet with regard to the ongoing saga, I think I’ve found a lesson for all of us hidden not in the verdict itself, but in the widespread reaction to the verdict.
For the most part, the folks I travel with and encounter on a daily basis, both in person in everyday life as well as in social media, felt as though there was no justice for little Caylee Anthony, that Casey Anthony was obviously guilty, and that she deserved to be put to death for the murder of her daughter. One friend on Facebook stated that she had “lost all faith in the legal system in this country” and had a few choice words for Jose Baez, Anthony’s defense counsel.
In reality, however, the verdict in Casey Anthony’s case should provide reason for more, not less, faith in America’s legal system. Without getting too deep into Criminal Law and the elements of the various crimes with which Ms. Anthony was charged in Florida–it ain’t my specialty, anyway–it is important to remember that, regardless of the evidence presented and the testimony provided, the jury still did not know how Caylee Anthony died, what type of murder weapon was used (if any), or what motive Casey Anthony had to murder her daughter (for “cramping her style” to be a valid motive, Casey Anthony would have to be adjudicated insane). The jury still did not have DNA evidence. In essence, the State was trying to hang an obviously skeevy woman on her skeeviness itself, combined with a host of circumstantial evidence.
And, frankly, every American man, woman and child should thank their lucky stars that courts across the country aren’t handing out execution orders based upon merely circumstantial evidence.
The system worked. It really did. And not in a delusional Janet Napolitano sort of way, either. Is it fairly obvious that Casey Anthony had some sort of complicity in either her daughter’s death or the subsequent cover-up? Absolutely, but in this country “not guilty” is vastly different than “innocent,” and I don’t want to live in a country where folks are executed on circumstantial evidence alone, especially in capital murder cases in which there is no proof that a murder actually transpired.
For the folks out there deeply dissatisfied with the Anthony verdict: I understand. I’m a dad, too. But if there is to be anger and frustration over this, it should be directed at the State–coincidentally, the same type of folks trusted to convict terrorists in Attorney General Eric Holder’s civilian trial program– and its failure to either charge Ms. Anthony with a lesser crime that it could prove (such as involuntary manslaughter, defined roughly as death caused by a criminally negligent Defendant whose gross unawareness of substantial risk of harm is a substantial deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise under the circumstances) or perform better with regard to providing actual proofs of first-degree murder.
In other words, the disappointing result was not a failure of the system, but rather the failure of those tasked with ensuring that the system works. If that sentiment sounds familiar, it’s because we see the same disappointing results for the same reasons nearly every day from our elected officials in Washington, D.C.
Take, for example, the bailout of the American auto industry. While both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama supported the bailout, for the sake of example consider what was said by the latter, then president-elect, on November 24, 2008:
The auto industry historically has been the backbone of America’s manufacturing base and it’s not just the auto industry–it’s not just the big three. It’s also all the suppliers, all the business that one way or another are part of our auto industry that are at stake here.
I’ve said before and I will repeat. We can’t allow the auto industries to simply vanish. We’ve got to make sure that it is there and that the workers and suppliers and the businesses that rely on the auto industry stay in business.
Nobody was talking about letting the auto industry “vanish,” but anyone who favors the free market to interventionist policy understands that the very workers and suppliers and businesses mentioned by Barack Obama more than likely contributed to the automakers’ financial difficulties. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney points out as much in his fantastic November 2008 New York Times op-ed, bluntly titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” An excerpt or two:
If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.
Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.
The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.
In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check.
In the end, that’s exactly what General Motors and Chrysler went through, and what we have been seeing since. Both automakers have emerged leaner and stronger, and putting out cars that folks actually want to buy (I’ll take a 2011 Dodge Charger in “toxic orange,” please). And, as Romney pointed out in the June 13, 2011 GOP presidential debate, the interference with the free market system–read: the bailouts–only delayed the inevitable and cost American taxpayers an additional $17 billion.
In other words, like with the Casey Anthony verdict, it wasn’t a failed free market system that caused GM and Chrysler’s financial difficulties, or delayed GM and Chrysler’s emergence from bankruptcy, or cost the American people $17 billion — it was the failure of those who operate within the system, namely the union interests and regulatory burdens that increased the automakers’ cost of doing business, and the interventionist policies of Presidents Bush and Obama that only delayed and increased the cost of the inevitable.
A better example is the American health care system, a system that is good but far from flawless. In approaching reform of our hardly perfect health care system, Democrats on Capitol Hill argued that the failure of the free market system had led to the empowerment of the insurance giants, leaving health care consumers barely afloat and nearly drowning in an ocean of exponentially increasing costs. Republicans, for the most part, argued that there needed to be a greater–not more restrained–free market influence in the health care system, and that the reconnection with rather than abandonment of free market principles would work to drive down health care costs for everyone.
By the end of the debate, Democrats had forced through a $2 trillion, 2400-plus-page piece of legislation that, as a cornerstone of its purported reform, provided for reckless interference with insurance companies’ assessment of risk and business practices, whether it be through mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions or caps placed on what percentage of premiums could be used administratively versus what percentage must be earmarked for patient benefits. Even on the drawing board, the Congressional Budget Office acknowledged that program would cost $2 trillion over the next ten years and actually cause premiums to increase relative to the status quo; since being signed into law, premiums have been on the rise, and more than one thousand waivers have been granted. (See “Waivers For Favors?” here at AR.)
Republicans, on the other hand, took a more measured approach and relied upon free market forces rather than interventionist policies to drive down costs for insureds across the country. The 230-page legislation proposed by the House GOP in November 2009 relied upon three concepts, two of which were steeped in free market principles: (1) Allow for insurance to be purchased from across state lines; (2) Allow small businesses and individuals alike to form “risk pools,” the functional equivalent of a group buying program; and (3) enact tort reforms. Unlike the $2 trillion, premium-increasing legislation proposed by the Democrats and eventually signed into law, the GOP’s noninterventionist, free-market-dependent proposal was scored by the Congressional Budget Office at a ten-year cost of only $61 billion, and according to the CBO it would have decreased insurance premiums in the process.
Again, with regard to the American health care system, it wasn’t a failure of the free market system that drove up costs for everyone — in fact, further abridgment of free market principles have only increased costs further — but rather it was the failure of those who were tasked with making sure that the system actually works.
At the end of the day, it is incredibly easy to jump on the “Fry Casey Anthony” bandwagon. It’s easy to look at the adorable, angelic face of Caylee Anthony and get emotional. That little girl deserved better, and she deserves justice now for sure. Similarly, it was just as easy to look at the financial problems facing General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, picture and consider the plight of the workers and their families should the companies have been forced to restructure, and argue from an emotional standpoint in favor of the auto bailout. Certainly, George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” must have required such an approach. Furthermore, it’s easy to look at those Americans that cannot afford health insurance and want to shake up the system significantly enough so as to provide coverage for everyone who wants it.
The problem, however, is that emotional decisions are rarely the right ones, whether it be the blame placed on the legal system for letting Casey Anthony go, the bailout of the auto industry that unnecessarily cost taxpayers $17 billion, or the restructuring of the entire health care system in order to provide coverage for a few million uninsured at the expense of increased premiums and limited access for the rest of us.
We need to trust the American legal system, as we never know when it will be one of us on the hot seat, truly innocent but nonetheless fighting a traffic ticket or dodging accusations of adultery or defending against a capital murder charge. Similarly, we need to trust the free market, as interventionist policies have only brought us to the precipice of disaster.
In the meantime, hug your children. Caylee Anthony was robbed of her future and, right now, the rest of our nation’s children can look forward to being robbed in the future should we continue down this path.