The New Republic: Cass R. Sunstein- ‘Why Paternalism is Our Friend’

Why Paternalism Is Your Friend

Source:The New Republic– New York City Nanny, I mean Mayor (call it a slip of the tongue) Michael Bloomberg.

“The nanny state is in the news. A lot of people have been outraged by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to restrict soda sizes, recently overturned by a state court, and some people do not much like his proposal to ban cigarette displays in New York stores. If you share the outrage, you should recognize that various forms of paternalism are all around you, and at least some of them aren’t so bad.

Last year, new government regulations required automobile companies to increase the fuel economy of their cars, to a point where the fleet-wide average must exceed 50 miles per gallon by 2025. True, those regulations will reduce air pollution and promote energy independence, but the majority of the benefits come in the form of gas savings for consumers. For those who abhor paternalism, here’s the problem: Consumers can already buy high MPG cars, and many of them just aren’t doing so, even though they might well save money over the life of the vehicle. If the government is making the fleet a lot more fuel-efficient than consumers demand, is it operating as the national nanny, or the Gasoline Police? Should people be outraged about that?

Paternalism comes in a lot of shapes and sizes, and to come to terms with it, we need to offer a working definition. What seems to unify paternalistic approaches, however diverse, is that government does not believe that people’s choices will promote their welfare, and it is taking steps to influence or alter people’s choices for their own good.”

You can read the rest of Cass Sunstein’s piece at The New Republic

“New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a two-time Nanny of the Month and 2009’s Nanny of the Year, is back to save us from ourselves yet again!

In order to promote breastfeeding, Bloomberg has ordered all public city hospitals to lock up free samples of baby formula. New mothers who are unable to breastfeed – or simply choose not to – can still get formula, but only after enduring a lecture from a hospital employee on the benefits of the boob over the bottle.

Reason TV’s Kennedy spoke with Susan Burger, a certified lactation consultant, who supports the mayor’s initiative on the grounds that “the real intent of that law is to protect breastfeeding mothers [and] their freedom of choice to breastfeed.”

Michael Bloomberg

Source:Reason Magazine– New York City Nanny, I mean Mayor (call it a slip of the tongue) Michael Bloomberg.

From Reason Magazine

Before I get into what I really want to talk about, I’m going to start this post off with a question: What the hell happened to the New Republic? Because before they got new management and Chris Hughes became its new editor, this was a real liberal democratic magazine. The official liberal democratic magazine in America that had a healthy skepticism about governmental power. That all seems to be gone now and now they are sounding like defenders of the state, especially the nanny state.

The current version of The New Republic seems to believe  that freedom is dangerous and that it shouldn’t be our goal or the job of government to protect our freedom, but literally to protect the people, as if we are morons or little children and can’t do that for ourselves. And even if that means protecting people from themselves and even locking them up for their own good when they make choices that aren’t in their best interest.

Reading the New Republic now, except for Jeff Rosen who is a real Liberal, is like reading the The Nation magazine or the AlterNet, or listening to the political commentary on MSNBC: it’s “big government knows best and has all the answers and individual freedom and choice are dangerous”.

They are paternalists on the far-left, people who I really don’t even call Progressives any more but paternalists or prohibitionists. Prohibition is a statist idea by the way, but I generally what I call people who think like this whether they are on the Far-Left or Far-Right, are nanny statists or nanny staters. People who believe that it’s the job of government to protect people even from themselves.

And when you combine paternalism when it comes to personal or social issues with socialism as it relates to economic policy and you believe in things like nationalizing the healthcare and health insurance systems, as well as the retirement system and perhaps even the banking system, maybe even the energy industry and you combine that nanny statism on social issues, you really have what looks like communism. You got a King Kong size big government there to protect people from themselves: “Because big government is our friend and freedom and freedom of choice is our enemy”. That it’s not big government that’s the problem, but that big government is our friend and should direct how we live our own lives.

Paternalism whether it comes from the Far-Left as it relates to the War on Drugs, alcohol prohibition, tobacco, junk food, soft drinks, or whether it comes from the Far-Right as it relates to violent video games or pornography, or trying to outlaw pre-marital sex, or adultery or divorce, it doesn’t work. Because if people want to do things bad enough, they’ll find a way to do it and damn the consequences.

One of the reasons why we have taxes and regulations in America is to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior. Not to manage people’s lives for them. That if you want people to make healthy choices, you subsidize that and penalize them when they make unhealthy choices.

To respond to the argument that Cass Sunstein is trying to make which really sounds like he’s trying to pick up the pieces for the nanny state proponents: the regulations he’s talking about are regulations regarding businesses, not individuals. Businesses are also not allowed to hire people to whack out the competition for them. That’s also for the welfare for the general public, but that doesn’t help his case.

About Erik Schneider

Full-time blogger on a multiple ray of topics and subjects, because of multiple interests.
This entry was posted in New Left, Originals and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The New Republic: Cass R. Sunstein- ‘Why Paternalism is Our Friend’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s