George McGovern Takes on Economic Paternalists

Former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, who has been moving in a libertarian direction for a couple of decades (partly as a result of suffering the regulatory hassles associated with running his Connecticut inn), defends subprime mortgages, payday lending, and interstate health insurance shopping against "economic paternalism" in today's Wall Street Journal:

Under the guise of protecting us from ourselves, the right and the left are becoming ever more aggressive in regulating behavior. Much paternalist scrutiny has recently centered on personal economics...

Since leaving office I've written about public policy from a new perspective: outside looking in. I've come to realize that protecting freedom of choice in our everyday lives is essential to maintaining a healthy civil society.

Why do we think we are helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don't take away cars because we don't like some people speeding. We allow state lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money. Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don't operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in life.

The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.

Michael Lynch delved into the controversy over payday loans in the April 2002 issue of reason. Recent reason coverage of subprime mortgages here

[Thanks to John Kluge for the tip.]

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  • Taktix®||

    As in the George McGovern?

  • ||

    Liberal exposed to real world after leaving office. Economic views change as a result.

    News at eleven.

  • x,y||

    The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.



    This is promising, but I wonder what he means by "We." Does he mean the state?

  • ||

    This is promising, but I wonder what he means by "We." Does he mean the state?

    Since the state is usally the only valid educator for the masses in the eyes of Democrats, I am guessing "yes".

  • ||

    If everyone ran their own business for a year you'd be amazed at the change in attitude.

  • ||

    I got to interview George McGovern once. Really a very personable, and seemingly reasonable, guy. (Of course, that was two decades after his presidential run.)
    That interview was the only time I ever asked a photog to snap me with a "celebrity." I've still got the framed pic in my study.
    I just wish I had gotten to interview Barry Goldwater. Then I'd have the set.

  • ||

    I don't want regulation to protect me from my own stupidity.

    I want regulation to protect me from yours.

  • robc||

    joe,

    I want regulation to protect me from yours.

    Hangin out in the vicinity of stupid people (physically or economically) can be considered stupidity.

    Its in Niven's Laws:

    Dont throw shit at people with rifles.
    Dont stand next to someone throwing shit at people with rifles.

  • robc||

  • Colin||

    McGovern is my favorite Democrat. He always tells the absolute truth as he sees it.

  • Colin||

    Wouldn't it be a gas if he got nominated on the LP ticket?

  • robc||

    Colin

    Barr/McGovern?

  • ||

    Moving in a libertarian direction? By that excerpt, I'd say he is there.

  • ||

    robc,

    I like #17:

    There is no cause so right that one cannot find a fool following it.

  • ||

    Former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, who has been moving in a libertarian direction for a couple of decades (partly as a result of suffering the regulatory hassles associated with running his Connecticut inn),

    Sonny Bono entered politics (ran for mayor of Palm Springs, IIRC) because of the inane bureaucratic hassles involved with running a restaurant.

  • Colin||

    Barr/McGovern?

    Dude, I'd campaign on sidewalks for that ticket, in the rain. And I've never campaigned for anyone before.

  • robc||

    joe,

    Yep, I bring up #17 all the time. Especially when people start dissing Ron Paul because of his supporters.

  • ||

    Sonny Bono entered politics (ran for mayor of Palm Springs, IIRC) because of the inane bureaucratic hassles involved with running a restaurant.

    I believe Clint Eastwood got into politics for similar reasons.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Wouldn't it be a gas if he got nominated on the LP ticket?



    Never happen. He only lost by some 23% when he ran for President. He's way too successful for the LP.

  • ||

    I want regulation to protect me from yours.

    Sure thing joe, do you have some secret plan to regulate Newtonian laws? They seem to deal out most of the punishment of stupid people.

  • robc||

    joe,

    #19 is good too. Im pretty sure I can use it in any subprime mortgage thread.

  • Ol\' Green Teeth||

    A Ku Klux Klan story, and a George McGovern story in the same day. Can the John Birch and George Wallace stories be far behind?

  • ||

    "I want regulation to protect me from your (stupidity)."

    I don't think that statement is incompatible with libertarianism. At least I hope not.

  • ||

    I don't want regulation to protect me from my own stupidity.

    I want regulation to protect me from yours.


    Can I have a regulation to protect me from joe's regulation?

  • ||

    I don't want regulation to protect me from my own stupidity.

    I want regulation to protect me from yours.


    Unfortunately, joe, regulation applies to everyone, and so regulation limiting other people's freedom to protect you from their stupidity also limits your freedom to protect other people from your stupidity.

    Now, if you're just saying you're opposed to laws that limit our freedom "for our own good" and, its close cousin "for the common good", welcome to the club.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Never throw shit at an armed man.



    I remember a couple years ago when one of the huge multi-national supra-governmental agencies (WTO, I think) was in Italy. There were massive protests, and one of the black shirt anarchists jumped on a police car and started kicking in the rear window. This was right next to a riot cop armed with an HK. There was a furor when the anarchist got shot, but even with my anti-authoritarian sympathies, I had a hard time thinking anything other than "thinning the herd."

  • ||

    (partly as a result of suffering the regulatory hassles associated with running his Connecticut inn)

    Seriously libertarians really need to look into small business owners...huge untapped potential there...especially with the republican weirdness of the last 4-8 years.

  • ||

    McGovern wrote that? What an odd world we live in.

  • ||

    George McGovern lives right down the road from me, and I've interviewed him a couple of times for my newspaper.
    If I have to have a favorite liberal, he definitely would fill the bill. Very reasonable and yet very passionate person.

  • GILMORE||

    shocking, but refreshing

    The whole op ed is worth reading

  • ||

    It is curious down here in Bama. The ads I see on the tv for payday loans and title pawns talk alot about money for the beach trip, the big date, the nascar race and other similar luxury things. It is my limited experience with friends and relatives that the people that do these type of loans are doing them either out of wanting something they don't need or because they are too fikin stupey to handle their money. incidentally, they all have kids

  • robc||

    joshua corning

    Who do you think we are? Just from comments posted here and there, a significant number of us are small business owners.

    Didnt the LP try to brand themselves "The Party of Small Business" back in the early 2000s?

  • kinnath||

    Who do you think we are?

    From an earlier thread, it was shown conclusively that are are predominately INTPs which means we're all socially handicapped and spend most of our waking time reading blogs.

  • LarryA||

    I don't want regulation to protect me from my own stupidity. I want regulation to protect me from yours.

    When you hand the government the power to regulate my behavior, you give them the power to regulate yours. What goes around, comes around. The karma theory also works here.

    Liberal exposed to real world after leaving office. Economic views change as a result.

    Along the lines of "A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged."

  • ||

    Karma is a fact, not a theory.

  • ||

    Larry A,

    Other people have every right to be protected from my stupidity, as well.

  • kinnath||

    I want regulation to protect me from your (stupidity).

    Stupid acts tend to be random acts. Tough to regulate random acts.

    Ignorance, however, tends to produce consistantly bad outcomes. These can be detected and corrected, so regulation may lend itself to ensuring that ingornant people cannot engage in commercial enterprises until they have corrected their ignorance. Although, there are other approaches to dealing with this problem. Much intellectual engergy can be spent on the question of whether to prohibit before the fact or punish after the fact when an individual's ingorance leads to bad outcome.

  • ||

    joe | March 7, 2008, 12:59pm | #
    I don't want regulation to protect me from my own stupidity.

    I want regulation to protect me from yours.




    joe | March 7, 2008, 2:40pm | #
    Larry A,

    Other people have every right to be protected from my stupidity, as well.



    Even though you want protection from me joe, I'm pretty sure I can protect myself, without help, from your stupidity.

    And by the way, is it my "right" and do I have your permission to protect myself from suicidal, manaical (add various other adjectives as desired) killers by carrying concealed? Or should those killers just be 'regulated'?

    By the way; for any language nazis listening in; am I using semi-colons properly here?

  • ||

    I don't want regulation to protect me from my own stupidity.

    I want regulation to protect me from yours.


    Who protects us from the stupidity of the regulators?

  • short, fat bastard||

    By the way; for any language nazis listening in; am I using semi-colons properly here?

    No. Take two separate thoughts (sentences) and join them with a semi-colon instead of ", and".

    For example: "Joe is an annoying prick." "His presence on H&R degrades most conversations."

    This becomes.

    "Joe is an annoying prick; his presence on H&R degrades most conversations."

  • Colin||

    Who regulates the regulators?

  • ||

    By the way; for any language nazis listening in; am I using semi-colons properly here?

    You are using then so no, you are not using them properly...but you are using them so you are definitely using them correctly.

  • ||

    Master Baiter,
    I am unsure of the usage of your colon but I believe you spelled maniacal wrong.

  • zoltan||

    >blockquote>By the way; for any language nazis listening in; am I using semi-colons properly here?

    You only have one clause; the semicolon separates two related clauses.

  • zoltan||

    I might be good at grammar, but I suck at HTML.

  • \'baiter||

    brotherben | March 7, 2008, 3:03pm | #
    Master Baiter,
    I am unsure of the usage of your colon but I believe you spelled maniacal wrong.



    bro' ben - yes, thank you, I did spell maniacal incorrectly. And the other question was regarding semi colon usage - my colon usage is satisfactory; and I cannot accept the title "Master" I am merely a talented amateur.

    And if this was a thread about grammar, screen names and witty repartee (sp?) I would gladly give brotherben the thread win for the above!

  • ||

    yes, master baiter, it was my points about the proper role of reguation that denigrates the discussion.

    Thanks for lifting it back up by attacking me personally.

  • ||

    short, fat bastard | March 7, 2008, 3:02pm | #
    By the way; for any language nazis listening in; am I using semi-colons properly here?

    No. Take two separate thoughts (sentences) and join them with a semi-colon instead of ", and".

    For example: "Joe is an annoying prick." "His presence on H&R degrades most conversations."

    This becomes.

    "Joe is an annoying prick; his presence on H&R degrades most conversations."



    Thanks SFB, that is clarifying.

    and joshua corning (3:03) thanks to you too.. I was confused, but I liked it.

    joe | March 7, 2008, 3:21pm | #
    yes, master baiter, it was my points about the proper role of reguation that denigrates the discussion.

    Thanks for lifting it back up by attacking me personally.



    You are welcome joe; as "they" often say, the best defense is a vigorous offense. And thanks to you too for reminding me that once again you must be right.

    And FYI you mis-spelled "regu-L-ation".

  • Someone Who Doesn\'t Want to L||

    kinnath:

    Who do you think we are?

    From an earlier thread, it was shown conclusively that are are predominately INTPs which means we're all socially handicapped and spend most of our waking time reading blogs.



    Not me, motherfuckers. I'm a charming social butterfly - an INTJ - The Coolest Personality Type™!

  • economist||

    Although I'm glad McGovern has come to our point of view on some things, I still take a morbid satisfaction in seeing his difficulties with burdensome regulations that he helped to impose.

  • economist||

    And now joe admits that regulation against one's own stupidity is a bad idea. So now you're against the subprime mortgage bailout, right? Or are you for letting people make shitty decisions and THEN forcing everyone else to subsidize them?

  • Someone Who Doesn\'t Want to L||

    The bar scene in Near Dark is on FLIX; just heard the Cramps' version of "Fever".

  • robc||

    an INTJ - The Coolest Personality Type

    First against the wall.

  • ||

    Well, Mr. Baiter, you are vigorously offensive.

    I'm sure everyone appreciates you for doing this to the threads.

  • ||

    economist,

    I'm against the bailout, and always have been. I'd have preferred financial regulations to avoid the stupidity-induced recession we're going into, though.

    Now that the deed is done, there's not a whole lot that can be done except go for the ride.

  • economist||

    So, joe, you've changed your earlier position, then.

  • ||

    Nope.

  • economist||

    I guess I should clarify: you changed your position concerning bailing out dumbasses, but not on passing regulations to protect people from their own stupidity. Then again, if the end result is always these douches asking for taxpayers/banks/the fed to help them out of the bad situation they created for themselves, and getting it, maybe you're right.

  • ||

    Disputing the "fuck em, not my problem" argument against a bailout isn't the same thing as supporting the bailout, economist.

  • Someone Who Doesn\'t Want to L||

    robc:
    First against the wall.

    Yeah, I'm afraid of that. People do get jealous when you're cool, don't they?

  • ||

    I guess I should clarify

    Actually, what you SHOULD do is use the thread to comment on the article, or discuss ideas, rather than try to pick fights and score points with a particular person.

  • economist||

    "rather than try to pick fights and score points with a particular person."

    joe, have you ever noticed that these threads have a tendency to get off-topic? And if your previous positions on bailouts weren't supportive (even if, I'll grant, cautiously. You're not a nut like MCW), they sure sounded like they were. Maybe you should clarify. Speaking of MCW, have any of you guys seen him on this thread? Or has he decided he likes the DailyKos better?

  • ||

    Disputing the "fuck em, not my problem" argument against a bailout isn't the same thing as supporting the bailout, economist.

    But opposing the belief that people should be responsible for themselves does make bailouts more likely.

    Not to mention that propagating the idea that people shouldn't be held responsible is just a gnats eyelash away from saying they can't be responsible actors, and there we are - passing regulations to protect people from their own stupidity.

  • economist||

    R C,
    Thank you for the lucid defense. I'm a little out of it, today. Bad cold. By the way, joe, don't most of the people on these threads often pick arguments. You're the one who's always making cracks about the libertarian "echo chamber".

  • ||

    economist,

    A lot of things I write "sure sound like" other things to people who opproach issues in a black/white, me-against-the-world manner. You, personally, somehow managed to convince yourself that I wanted the economy managed by centralized Production Boards. I guess that's just my lot, hanging out on a 'board with a minority viewpoint.

    But opposing the belief that people should be responsible for themselves does make bailouts more likely. Only if you can't hold up your end of the argument.

    And adhering to comforting straw-men about others' beliefs, rather than actually considering them on their own terms, makes it much more likely that you won't be able to hold up your end.

    Ergo, your mode of thinking, RC, makes regulation more likely.

  • ||

    economist,

    Picking an argument about what I write on a thread is one thing. That's how ideas get tested and worked out.

    Shouting "Gotcha!" because of something you think I wrote a month ago, for the point of being able to shout "Gotcha!" at me, is another.

  • ||

    However, I reserve the right to say that I fucked your mother last night whenever I feel I've been insulted.

  • economist||

    joe,
    If you say, essentially, that people should not be required to hold up their ends in an agreement if you think they didn't think it through before making it, it tends to give the impression that you support bailouts. As to the fact that I brought up something you said a month ago, I only mentioned it because I felt it necessary to correct your misapprehension that your attitude eschews paternalism. As for response to RC's argument, how does opposing the idea that people should be responsible for themselves NOT make bailouts more likely, regardless of how well your opponents hold up their own arguments?

  • economist||

    "However, I reserve the right to say that I fucked your mother last night whenever I feel insulted."
    That's real mature, joe. Your mother must be so proud.

  • ||

    I would hope it would be obvious at this point that I didn't write that, economist.

    The trail of people I've beaten like a pinata over the years tends to come back to me in the form of people spoofing my handle.

  • ||

    Although, I have written statements of that nature in many past threads.

  • ||

    economist,

    It would be better if concentrate on what I actually argue, rather than what you think the assumptions that you think like behind my agument could someday lead to. I'm not the parodic strawman version of a liberal that your reading material has constructed in order to show how wrong liberal ideas are.

    As for response to RC's argument, how does opposing the idea that people should be responsible for themselves NOT make bailouts more likely, regardless of how well your opponents hold up their own arguments? I didn't say that it did.

    Read what I write, and try to think about what I actually say, rather than just thinking about which pre-existing strawman version of libreral thought it most reminds you of. Our discussions will be much more productive if you do.

  • joe baiter||

    joe | March 7, 2008, 3:43pm | #
    Well, Mr. Baiter, you are vigorously offensive.

    I'm sure everyone appreciates you for doing this to the threads.



    Don't be sure joe, I doubt everyone appreciates it - that's just another generalization on your part.


    joe | March 7, 2008, 4:10p
    Shouting "Gotcha!" because of something you think I wrote a month ago, for the point of being able to shout "Gotcha!" at me, is another.



    And this is just another example of your defense of your own inconsistencies joe. Why not shout "gotcha" when it can be demonstrated that you said one thing "then" and something else that contradicts "now".

    joe | March 7, 2008, 4:14pm | #
    However, I reserve the right to say that I fucked your mother last night whenever I feel I've been insulted.



    Why would you need to 'reserve' that right, it ain't forbidden to lie... well, to an officer of the law, or an authorized federal agent while carrying out their duty or something I suppose it is. But here??

    Nah feel free to lie, be devious, inconsistent and insulting whenever you like - and the rest of us are free to do the same.

    And all of us are also free to call anyone, or be called, on their "shit".

    I love this site!

  • ||

    You know, if that guy spoofs me one more time, I'm going to send him a harshly-worded email.

    And won't he be sorry when it shows up in his box!

  • ||

    Congratulations, cocksuckers, you're officially wrecked another thread.

  • economist||

    Fine, joe, what did you ACTUALLY say? I warn you, there's something you said that I remember particularly well that I'll call up if I think your answer to this question is bullcrap.

  • ||

    What point in the following chain do you dispute, joe?

    "Fuck 'em, not my problem" is the functional equivalent of "People should bear the responsibility for their own decisions."

    Saying "Fuck 'em, not my problem" is no basis for opposing a bailout is the same as saying that upholding personal responsibility is not a basis for opposing the bailout.

    Saying that upholding personal responsibility is not a basis for opposing the bailout is the the functional equivalent of saying that people should be bailed out, or not, with no regard for their personal responsibility for the fix they are in.

    Saying that people should be bailed out, or not, with no regard for their personal responsibility for the fix they are in, makes bailouts a lot more likely, even if you have other reasons for opposing this particular one.

  • Al Swearingen||

    Hey, that's my line.

  • ||

    economist,

    What did I actuallly say, when? Now, a month ago that you seem to remember, what?

    R C,

    I dispute the assumption that any person in a bad situation is entirely responsible for it.

    I also dispute the sloppy reasoning implicit in using the word "bailout" in a manner so broad that as to be meaningless.

    And I dispute the implication that a lack of concern for the well-being of others is the only argument one can make against a poorly-thought-out program intended to help them.

  • economist||

    You guys, please don't spoof joe on the threads. I can't tell if it's a spoof or if it's what joe's actually saying.

  • .||

    I can't tell if it's a spoof or if it's what joe's actually saying.

    Sad isn't it.

  • economist||

    You know, when you compared the subprime mortgage crisis to that opening part of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? When the guy's house is being knocked down by eminent domain order, and the demolition crew says it's his fault for not finding out about the order? And you actually said that this was the same as saying the borrowers should actually find out what they're agreeing to before signing? That comment actually is the perfect example of leftist ideology. So it really isn't a "straw man".

  • economist||

    "I dispute the implication that a lack of concern for others is the only argument that can be made against a poorly-thought-out program to help them."
    And I didn't imply that. There are many bad things about the plans proposed by the president and the presidential candidates. However, "lack of concern" is valid if your "concern" involves cheating people out of what is due to them under contracts that both parties in them agreed to.

  • economist||

    And, joe, you haven't really given a satisfactory answer to my question about what you actually said. Or you could concede the argument and talk about something else. I'm good with either.

  • ||

    joe | March 7, 2008, 4:34pm | #
    You know, if that guy spoofs me one more time, I'm going to send him a harshly-worded email.

    And won't he be sorry when it shows up in his box!



    May I assume you are talking about moi, joe?

    Spooof spoooof... (that's two more times)

    Looking forward to your email.

  • economist||

    joe,
    I took the liberty of running one of your comments through the gender analysis by writing thing. It came up female.

  • ||

    economist,

    economist | March 7, 2008, 4:45pm | #

    You guys, please don't spoof joe on the threads. I can't tell if it's a spoof or if it's what joe's actually saying.


    If it's a good point, that's totally me.

    "I dispute the implication that a lack of concern for others is the only argument that can be made against a poorly-thought-out program to help them."
    And I didn't imply that.
    No, that reply was to RC's little syllogism.

    And, joe, you haven't really given a satisfactory answer to my question about what you actually said. Said, when? Said, what? I don't know what you're asking.

    Mr. Baiter,

    May I assume you are talking about moi, joe? No, dimwit, the one who using my own email address in the...you know what? Forget it. That whooshing sensation on your scalp - just totally don't worry about it.

    I am blessed in my enemies.

  • ||

    joe,
    I took the liberty of running one of your comments through the gender analysis by writing thing. It came up female.


    And you came up as a duck.

  • ||

    Mr. Baiter,
    No, dimwit, the one who using my own email address in the...you know what? Forget it. That whooshing sensation on your scalp - just totally don't worry about it.



    Gosh joe, I would never use your email address for anything. If I used it, pretended it was mine, folks would email all the nice things they have to say about me and you'd get them instead. Nothing in that for me.

    Besides, I'd never use a hotmail address, I much prefer gmail.

    And "...don't worry about it... " I quit worrying about my scalp when I started using dandruff shampoo.


    And you came up as a duck.



    Since males are called drakes; females, ducks - we must assume female too huh?

    And how about me joe, what did I come up as?

  • economist||

    I think joe's starting to get a little pissy here.

  • ||

    economist | March 7, 2008, 7:03pm | #
    I think joe's starting to get a little pissy here.



    ?...starting...?

    Seems to me he started (at least on this thread) hours ago.

  • ||

    Joe,
    I don't want regulation to protect me from my own stupidity.

    I want regulation to protect me from yours.


    Surprising statement - How would you know the regulation targets someone else's stupidity exactly? What's the benchmark, or the definition of that person's stupidity? Don't think it is so simple: that is why all regulations are sweeping and kind of a "one size fits all", because it is impossible to know a person's motives or future actions. The reason is the calculation problem, which does not pertain only to prices, but also to choices.

    What exists is law, which is supposed to forbid certain acts which would constitute violations of your rights (to life, property or seeking happiness). But laws against stupidity? What is 'stupidity'? How would one define it in order to set it in ink on paper?

  • Bill Clinton||

    Guys, let's avoid the politics of personal destruction and get back to the topic of this thread, viz:

    George McGovern has become a right-wing corporate shill! I can't believe I supported him for President!

    That's the last time I support a total asshole for President. This promise will take effect after the current election cycle.

  • will||

    joe, I know your secret. Or should I call you Jo?

  • will||

    Don't try to deny it.

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