Compulsory Satisfaction

Unresolved labor disputes can have a devastating effect on an economy in a time of crisis, and therefore many authorities have called for a law requiring compulsory arbitration of labor disputes. It must be an almost overwhelming temptation for politicians and bureaucrats alike to make compulsory anything (such as arbitration) perceived as good. The practical difficulty lies in the fact that the labor unions do not necessarily perceive arbitration as good.

Perhaps, to gain proficiency in the increasingly important area of compulsion and to accomplish other worthy ends as well, government should try its hand at making something a little less ambitious than wage arbitration compulsory. One of the chief areas that has been neglected is that of personal satisfaction. (We speak, of course, not in the general sense of satisfaction as mere gratification of appetites or wishes, but in the specialized sense of satisfaction for insults.)

An important study by the noted German sociologist Erwin Kochtopf entitled Genugtuung und Gesellschaft (Satisfaction and Society) has revealed that in modern society the two chief sources of dissatisfaction (in our specialized sense) are politicians and the media. Often it is not so much the politician who originates the insult but a reporter or columnist. Art Buchwald has frequently been reproached with giving offense, and similar if less flattering things have been said about media figures as diverse as Jack Anderson, Nicholas Von Hoffmann, and George Washington Plunkitt.

Our proposal is simple: amend the laws pertaining to libel and slander (unenforceable anyway) so that everyone in politics and the media is permitted to say whatever he wishes as long as he is willing to give ...

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