Nanny State

One Cheer for "State Soft Paternalism"

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Over in The New York Times Magazine (via Arts & Letters Daily), Jim Holt argues for an increasing regime of "state soft paternalism":

People have fashioned a wide range of techniques for keeping their inner wantons under control — like buying a pint of ice cream instead of the more economical quart because they know they would end up consuming the latter in one sitting. So why can't soft paternalism be left to the private sector, as some libertarians prefer? The problem is that private self-binding schemes are easily subverted when someone can make a buck off your weakness of will. One Michigan man who signed up for a casino's private self-blacklisting program found the owners all too accommodating when he had a change of heart. "Within a half an hour, I was back in," he said.

Editorializing against soft paternalism earlier this year, The Economist warned that "life would be duller if every reckless spirit could outsource self-discipline to the state." There are certainly more exalted ways to achieve mastery over unwelcome impulses. Thinkers of an existentialist kidney, like Jean-Paul Sartre, used to insist that each of us is free to redefine his character through an act of radical choice. For the religiously inclined, an access of divine grace might be what is needed to stiffen the will.

But what if you are one of those people who rely on more mundane stratagems, like self-binding? The general problem you face (as put by the political theorist Jon Elster) is this: For a given uphill goal and a given strength of will, does there exist a path, however circuitous, that will get you to the top of the hill? By adding a new path here and there, state soft paternalism makes it more likely that the answer will be yes.

Whole thing here.

Some immediate reactions: First off, if someone can make a buck off you by subverting your self-control (and let's face it, in the coming anti-pleasure gulag, Ben & Jerry are likely to play the role of Emmanuel Goldstein), then others should be able to make a buck-and-a-half off you for re-controlling you. Unless, of course, you don't really want to be controlled or "self-bound." In the case of the casino junkie, due to lack of details, it's impossible to know if the guy in question really was damaging himself or his dependents in any serious way. Was he, unlike Bill Bennett, betting the rent money? Or was he spending, say, $100 a week on gambling when he wanted to only spend, say, $25?

Holt's analysis is also totally lacking in any sort of public choice understanding of state action and the often irrational and hysterical underpinnings of same. Not to mention the ultimate consequences of official repression. Were the paternalists running, say, 19th-century Indian reservations just looking out for their charges by baning fire water? Or were they acting from something other than pure altruistic motives? Similarly, alcohol prohibition was sold as a way to help everyone in the U.S. become a better person. Whatever else it did, it helped create a monstrous underground that traded less in temperance and more in violence, adulterated products, and worse.

Which leads to a final question: What sort of evidence might one marshall that state soft paternalism is effective in reducing the targeted behavior. Seatbelt laws might be one instance where they have worked. I don't have the stats on hand, but I'm sure that many, many more people wear seatbelts nowadays–as a result both of informational campaigns and changes in law. It's not immediately clear what the downside of that is, either. However, when you move into other areas–drinking, drugging, etc–it's not exactly clear that prohibitionist policies have similar effects. Or, perhaps more significantly, they concentrate and worsen precisely the sort of destructive behavior that underwrites the ban in the first place.

My bit in Sunday's Chicago Tribune on the latest in state soft paternalism–NYC's ban on trans fat and Ohio's statewide smoking ban–is here.

Contributing Editor Julian Sanchez wrote about the rise of parentalism here.

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  1. ‘Unless, of course, you don’t really want to be controlled or “self-bound.”‘

    I think you demonstrated a complete absence of engagement with the issue.

  2. I don’t have the stats on hand, but I’m sure that many, many more people wear seatbelts nowadays–as a result both of informational campaigns and changes in law. It’s not immediately clear what the downside of that is, either.

    I’ve worn my seatbelt every single time I’ve ever been in a car–far predating the seat-belt laws. I have nothing against wearing seatbelts and indeed think it’s a good idea, but I’ll tell you at least one downside of the law: the cops will have “seatbelt checkpoints” on the road.

    Remember in your childhood civics class when the teacher told you the nice thing about America was the whole innocent until proven guilty bit? Not anymore. Anybody on the road is a suspect in a crime, and to prove you’re not guilty you have to come to a complete stop in the middle of the highway and then inch forward slowly until it is your turn to get to the head of the checkpoint line.

    One more excuse for the cops to harass innocent citizens. One more way for innocent citizens to grow accustomed to police harassment as the norm.

  3. I think you demonstrated a complete absence of engagement with the issue.

    Meaning that he was disinclined to take seriously a notion that probably shouldn’t be taken seriously.

  4. Good point, joe. Good point.

  5. I just realized something about my last post was vague: when I said “the cops will have seatbelt checkpoints” I wasn’t talking about some hypothetical possibility, but something that has actually happened. I myself have been both late for work in the morning, and late coming home in the evening, because a seatbelt checkpoint added 20 or 30 minutes to my commuting time.

    (Cue either Joe or Cathy Young: there is no Constitutional right to drive to work without government interference. There is no Constitutional right to drive home from work without government interference. There is no Constitutional right to leave your home and enter the public sphere without government interference. It’s for the children. If it saves one life it’s worth it. If you’re innocent you have nothing to fear.)

  6. “So why can’t soft paternalism be left to the private sector, as some libertarians prefer?”

    Because that option serves to perpetuate the quaint myth of America as a nation of “citizens” as opposed to a nation of “subjects.”

  7. “I think you demonstrated a complete absence of engagement with the issue.”

    Some people, out of sheer good sense, prefer not to “engage” with the argument that we are powerless to resist certain urges and therefore all of us need to be forcibly pinned back by the State (at gunpoint, if necessary). I, for one, applaud those who refuse to even engage in such nonsense.

  8. “So why can’t soft paternalism be left to the private sector, as some libertarians prefer?”

    A private system for nagging people to do stuff they know they ought to do anyway? It’s called marriage.

  9. *It’s not immediately clear what the downside of that is, either.*

    The downside is the reduced cost of poor driving and the resulting change in behavior of drivers: they become more careless. Like most marginal effects, it is hard to quantify. But if you entertain the thought of a giant spike sticking out of your steering wheel, you can begin to understand the reasoning.

    Another view of the same question: if seat belts save lives, why don’t cars come equipped with 5 point racing harnesses? And why don’t cars come with complimentary complementary crash helmets?

  10. I sort of feel sorry for the Evans and Jennifers of the world – even something as innocuous as a seatbelt checkpoint to them is a sinister exercise in police-state brutality…has anybody ever really been forced to buckle a seatbelt “at gunpoint”?

  11. Ed,

    Because not everything exists in abstract extremes. I think that, with seat belts, there’s a certain cost/benefit equation that factors well in favor of putting seat belts in cars. While I don’t agree with the overall principle of soft paternalism at the hands of the state, I think it’s, well, a little intellectually juvenile to play the whole “well, if we have the right to bear arms, shouldn’t I also have the right to drive around with a nuclear warhead strapped to the hood of my car?” game.

  12. “has anybody ever really been forced to buckle a seatbelt “at gunpoint?”

    Well, yes.If you don’t buckle up you get a ticket. If you don’t pay the ticket you go to court. if you don’t go to court you get arrested. if you refuse to be arrested……they pull out the guns.

    There’s ALWAYS a gun, my friend.

  13. And even if they are forced to buckle up at gunpoint, that’s still safer than driving without a seatbelt.

    Would you rather have a cop give your spouse a seatbelt violation ticket, or have that same cop come to your house to inform you that your spouse has been killed in an auto accident?

  14. You can find a commentary on the Ohio bill here:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig7/keferl2.html

  15. Would you rather have a cop give your spouse a seatbelt violation ticket, or have that same cop come to your house to inform you that your spouse has been killed in an auto accident?

    Have you met my wife?
    Ba-dum!

  16. So, if the cop doesn’t give my spouse a ticket, she’ll die? Wow. I didn’t realize that I only had two choices. I’d much prefer for that cop to leave me and my family the fuck alone and let us get where we’re going, because we wear seatbelts anyway.

  17. The five-point harnesses should be an option in some vehicles in the future. They would be very helpful in SUVs during rollovers. Crash helmets have not been found of value in cars, although they have in motorcycles.

    Checkpoints are out there, for drunk drivers and unbelted drivers. Not all states can have them. The officers manning them will have guns.

  18. I sort of feel sorry for the Evans and Jennifers of the world – even something as innocuous as a seatbelt checkpoint to them is a sinister exercise in police-state brutality

    Innocuous? To you who would decide for me what safety precautions I should take in my car, I say “MYOFB.”

    I feel sorry for the Dan T.’s of the world, who obey our police masters like sheep.

  19. Would you rather have a cop give your spouse a seatbelt violation ticket, or have that same cop come to your house to inform you that your spouse has been killed in an auto accident?

    Let me think on that one.

  20. Is it breakfast time for trollie? Heeeere, trollie! Good boy! Yeah, here’s some yummy morsels…

    Now, this might be a little hard for your simple brain to process, but, I don’t judge an invasion of my person on how “innocuous” it is. That’s just not my measure of its validity, trollie. It might be yours—hell, sitting at the back of the bus wasn’t that much of an inconvenience for the nigras, so why should we worry about it—but it’s not mine.

    As for whether or not they forced me to wear a seatbelt at gunpoint, I know we’ve been through this before, Dan, but it’s obvious that you forgot. Again: without the threat of armed force, the State would hold no real authority over lawbreakers. While the first line of corrective action (fines, jail time, probation, etc.) may not be a direct literal “gun to your head”, the force behind their ability to fine you, jail you, etc., is that they can eventually force you at gunpoint. If you refuse to cooperate with their little seatbelt witch hunt, or refuse to pay the resultant fines, they can steal your property—and you’d best believe that those guys show up with firearms.

    I’m tired of debating this stupid point with you, trollie. Now, go back to judging the validity of laws on how “innocuous” they are ;-]

  21. Woops, Shecky beat me to it.

  22. I wonder how many people lost their jobs because that “innocuous” seatbelt checkpoint made them late for work? I was lucky, at least, in the sense that EVERYBODY was late at my job that morning, since it was impossible to get there without going through said checkpoint.

    Guys, ignore Dan and he’ll go away. His latest posts have more of a whiff of desperation about them; actually, I’m not sure if it’s really him, or someone pretending to be so. You know, “I am Spartacus.”

  23. I’ve worn a seatbelt since they were first offered as an option. My dad had them installed in both the front and rear seats.

    I have been saved from serious injury by wearing one.

    Even if you, like me, object to the ‘nanny state’, please wear your seatbelt.

    If you’re stupid enough to drive without one as a “protest”, well, at least you’re helping evolution by culling yourself from the gene pool.

  24. Jennifer,

    I’ve actually grown accustomed to having a resident troll ’round here. Spices the joint up a little bit. It’s like having an intellectual punching bag. And the best part is, he’s not a complete troll, because a “complete” troll is self-aware. They know that they’re a troll, and they have specific trollish intentions. I think Dan actually believes the crap he says, and actually doesn’t think he’s a troll. And that’s the most fun of all… :-}

  25. If you’re stupid enough to drive without one as a “protest”, well, at least you’re helping evolution by culling yourself from the gene pool.

    Are you and I reading different threads? I don’t recall anyone here complaining about seatbelts, but about laws that require their use, and enforcement procedures that assume all adult drivers are actually naughty misbehaving children until proven otherwise.

    The morning of the seatbelt check. . . I wonder if there was some guy who was all excited when he left his house that morning, because he was set to interview for his dream job, but the seatbelt checkpoint made him late for the interview, which of course meant he made a horrible first impression and didn’t get the job he otherwise would have been offered.

  26. Jennifer, that man who was late for his interview can always find another job. He, however, can’t find another life.

  27. So was that the real Dan or a fake one making fun of him? I honestly can’t tell anymore.

  28. Jennifer

    WHOA!

    I object to the law & the inspections. And I read quite clearly your support for actually wearing them.

    It’s just that some people seem to confuse “defending their rights” with being obstinate to the point of stupidity. If I was being too ‘nannyish’ myself, I apologize.

  29. I wonder how many people lost their jobs because that “innocuous” seatbelt checkpoint made them late for work? I was lucky, at least, in the sense that EVERYBODY was late at my job that morning, since it was impossible to get there without going through said checkpoint.

    Jennifer, it is possible to be strongly for seatbelt laws, while still being adamant against random checkpoints on public roads. That is my position.

    There is something libertarian about saying that no laws will be passed because they will inevitably lead to abuse of police powers, but I don’t think that is a realistic mindset. I think David Lynch was getting at the same thing when he made a vigorous defense of stop signs. Not everything is a slippery slopes, and even some slippery slopes are worth taking an intermediate stand on.

  30. Jennifer, it is possible to be strongly for seatbelt laws, while still being adamant against random checkpoints on public roads. That is my position.

    Fine, but here’s a serious question: how do you propose to enforce these laws?

    Personally, I think you should not make a law unless you are willing to put the lawbreakers in jail. Thieves and assaulters–those belong in jail, so I have no problems with laws making theft and assault illegal. But do you think a guy belongs in jail for not wearing a seatbelt? If not, then why use the force of law and government to say “Thou shalt wear belts”?

  31. Sam,

    Can I just reject paternalism on the grounds that it interferes with the ever-important process of natural selection?

  32. Bah! We’ve become a nation of ninnies. A debate over legalisms obscures the underlying problem: a nation full of risk-averse whiners is rapidly going to be overtaken by other cultures with more energy and passion for life.

  33. It is quite a leap from “no law should be passed” to “no law to protect me from myself should be passed.”

  34. Or vice versa.

    Anyway, I am Sparacus. I am also the walrus. But I am not Dan T.

  35. Don’t these guys ever watch Demolition man? It’s going to take Sly and Leary to fix this nanny state mess.

  36. ChrisO rules.

  37. Even if you, like me, object to the ‘nanny state’, please wear your seatbelt.

    I don’t have that big a problem with “the ‘nanny state’ [saying], please wear your seatbelt.” ie public service spots etc. Those can simply be debated on cost-effectiveness grounds.

    My problem starts when the ‘nanny state’ says, “wear your seatbelt or I’ll kill you.”

    And yes, when you say “there ought to be a law” you are, in fact, saying “I believe it is OK to kill people over this.”

    Being a libertarian means that you have fewer things over which you are willing to kill people than the general population.

  38. Anybody want to explain to me why gambling can be banned on the basis of it being a bad financial decision? I doubt most of the supporters of a gambling ban would want the government to look at their cars and decide if they could “really ” afford them or should get a cheaper model. Same goes for houses, clothing, vacations, restaurants, etc. Or for that matter, if you are a business owner, shouldn’t the local government Risk Assesor have to approve every decision you make? What if that new product line isn’t a hit and bankrupts your company? That’s quite a “gamble” you’re taking there. Wouldn’t be good for your bank account if it doesn’t work out!
    I was seemingly born without the gambling gene, so I could care less on those grounds, but I’m amazed at how we just sit back and let the govt break new ground in arbitrary limitations on freedom. If everyone who bet football online openly defied the law, it would soon be repealed, as we don’t have jail space for an extra 50 million people.

  39. My problem starts when the ‘nanny state’ says, “wear your seatbelt or I’ll kill you.”

    And yes, when you say “there ought to be a law” you are, in fact, saying “I believe it is OK to kill people over this.”

    You guys make trolling here fun. Why? Because you’re a bunch of drama queens.

    “Wear your seltbelt or I’ll kill you”…yes, that’s a entirely reasonable interpretation of selt belt laws in America.

    The horror. I’m sure all across this land there are unmarked mass graves filled with the bodies of freedom fighters who dared to go beltless.

  40. Jennifer,
    I personally have always used seatbelts. “Blood on the Highway” did it for me. However, regarding seat belt laws and checkpoints, I am not quite as ready to concur. I agree that the sentiment of “guilty until proven innocent” is wrong and unconstitutional and I am not a firm believer that they actually improve safety. However, the state owns the roads, therefore they can make the rules. Look at the DOT regs regarding light size and color someday to see just how nitpicky those rules can be.

    Now, say I privately owned a toll road (booth and all) and wanted to make sure that you were buckled up, to protect your life and to prevent insurance losses on my behalf in case of accident due to road maintenance, would you object? If so,on what grounds? Is your objection to the checkpoints the wasted time, the intrusion on your privacy, the state sponsored punishment? Do I, as the road owner, have a right to impose usage restrictions on the users? Are there other options (other roads or methods of transportation, telecommuting)?

    Again, I am not saying that I agree with the seatbelt laws, particularly when it comes to consenting adults as they do not affect other drivers on the road. My question boils down to, no matter how egregious these laws may be, does the government actually have the right to make and enforce them?

  41. “Wear your seltbelt or I’ll kill you”…yes, that’s a entirely reasonable interpretation of selt belt laws in America.
    You are right Dan T., this is a bit blown out of proportion. How’s this for an actual chain of events?

    You get pulled over at a seat belt check point.

    You are fined $150 per person who is unbelted in the car (let’s be nice and make it a sedan and not a family van (4*150=$500)).

    So, you can’t afford to pay the $500 within the 10 days required (I know I couldn’t, don’t happen to have that kind of change laying around).

    Then what?

    You are visited by some nice gun toting policemen with a warrant for your arrest. Maybe this town has just gotten a new load of SWAT gear and they want to try it out.

    I will let you decide how the story ends, but either way it ends badly (in jail or dead)for something that affected no one but the unbuckled. Don’t do what the government says is good for you, go to jail, die or both.

  42. Yes, Kwix, towns routinely send out SWAT teams to collect fines for minor non-moving violations. (And I guess it varies by state, but where can one get fined $500 for not buckeling up?)

    This is exactly what I’m talking about – commenters here tend to blow stuff way out of proportion.

  43. The problem with soft paternalism–if indeed it works–is that a lot of fack fucks are going to slim down and live longer, making our geriatric problem even worse. Who smokes these days? Really stupid people for the most part. Who eats more than is healthful? Same morons. Do we really need lots of elderly dimwits?

  44. Do we really need lots of elderly dimwits?

    Apparently we need at least 100 to keep the Senate fully stocked.

  45. Why do you all keep responding to Dan? Either he’s a troll, or an extremely dense asshole. Either way, fuck him.

  46. However, the state owns the roads, therefore they can make the rules.

    That doesn’t mean the Constitution does not apply on said roads. Surely you’d agree that the state cannot require drivers to give up their first amendment right to religious freedom if they wish to drive on public roads; why then should they give up other rights?

    Besides, in theory “the state” is supposed to serve “the people,” not vice versa.

  47. Why do you all keep responding to Dan?

    To validate his existence. Call it a charitable impulse.

  48. No one here really “responds” to me, they just launch ad hominem attacks or resort to name-calling. God forbid anyone here actually engages me like an adult.

  49. “Yes, Kwix, towns routinely send out SWAT teams to collect fines for minor non-moving violations.”

    They most assuredly send armed officers to serve warrants. Depending on where you are and how anxious the town cops are to try out their new SWAT toys that their Homeland Security funding just paid for…you never know. It’s always possible that a “confidential informant” (read: drug dealer that they caught and will say anything to get a lighter sentence) “gave up” your house as a drug den…even though you don’t have anything to do with drugs. Think I’m reaching? Think again.

  50. God forbid anyone here actually engages me like an adult.

    God forbid you actually act like an adult worth engaging.

    Serious question, because I’m fascinated by human psychology: what satisfaction do you get out of posting the exact opposite of whatever is being said here? Is it the sheer joy of arguing that makes you do it, or are you one of those tragic people who believes “it’s better to be hated than ignored”? Are you afraid that if you don’t act obnoxious nobody will talk to you at all? I haven’t bothered reading your blog so I don’t know whether or not you’re capable of saying anything interesting (as opposed to merely provocative). Are you?

  51. Yeah, poor, poor Dan. “Woe is me.” Pffft. As Jennifer already pointed out, it goes both ways. The reason people here dismiss you as a troll is because you’re simply a contrarian who adds practically nothing of value to these discussions. The only one who can change that is you, Dan. But go ahead and blame everyone else if it helps you sleep better at night.

    If I were you, I would seriously consider Jennifer’s questions and the implications of the answers to those questions.

  52. Jennifer, a big part of the problem is that other posters are using my handle (for example, the “adult” comment wasn’t me).

    Aside from that, I mostly enjoy the challenge of debating with people over social and political issues. Although I admit that sometimes it’s just fun to rattle the cages around here.

    What’s odd is that I wouldn’t have ever started reading Reason if I wasn’t sympathetic to a lot of libertarian views. I just had no idea how extreme people could be with them and how little tolerance or willingness to consider other perspectives libertarians seem to have.

    Hope that answers your question.

  53. Dan:

    “Jennifer, that man who was late for his interview can always find another job. He, however, can’t find another life.”

    Why would he be so set in his self-preservation that he would search for another job but he wouldn’t wear a seatbelt were it not for the police checkpoints that made him lose the first job opportunity?

    Honestly, it’s like you never put any thought to anything you say here, you’re boring.

  54. 76, that was not me, either.

    I don’t mind the handle spoofing, but it does go to illustrate how intolerant libertarians can be of dissenting POV’s…

  55. Why is this so hard?

    When I choose not to wear my selt belt it harms no one except myself.

  56. Dan,

    unfortunately, your whole “blame everyone but me” game fails again…case in point is Joe. While we may blast him for some of his more leftist/socialist entries, we certainly never dismiss him as a troll. Why? Because he actually adds something of value to these discussions…and even though I disagree with alot of what he says, I still respect him and his efforts.

    Dan, let me put this simply so that you can understand it this time: the reason you’re not taken seriously here is not that you have a “dissenting POV”. It’s that you come here with the intention of being contrarian just for the sake of getting in an argument with someone…or, at least, that’s the way it comes across to most people. Call it “rattling the cages”, or whatever other fun little term you want…but the fact is, the vast, vast majority of your posts are contrarian just so that someone will argue with you. Even you admit that “it’s fun to be a troll here”; in essence, you’re admitting that you post here just to elicit colorful responses from people. And, again, unlike Joe, the worst part about the whole situation is that the arguments and “logic” you posit to support your “positions” are vapid and easily debunked…making your contribution near zero.

    Again…

    Joe: Commenter with a “dissenting POV” that is NOT a troll and DOES add intellectual value to the discussions

    Dan: Commenter with “dissenting POV” that IS a troll and does NOT add intellectual value to the discussions.

    Any questions?

  57. I was actually going to use Joe as an example, as Evan did, but decided it wasn’t worth it. But I do have another question for Dan: since you’ve admitted that you enjoy being a troll and rattling our cages, why do you turn around and get upset because instead of taking you seriously, we treat you like–oh, I dunno–a troll who merely wants to rattle our cages? You can’t have it both ways.

  58. Jennifer, When have I ever gotten upset?

    I usually assume that the more I’m mocked, the better my points are.

    Sure it’s fun sometimes to mess with you guys when you get so melodramatic (“the nanny state fascists are forcing us at gunpoint to hand over our property!!!”), but it’s not like I hurl insults or attack people. I think that dissenting POV’s are not tolerated here?even Joe gets called a troll pretty often.

  59. Jennifer, the “rattle some cages around here” post wasn’t mine either. If I have indeed “rattled” any cages around here it’s because I bring a perspective that many of you libertarians find disturbing. I’m only considered a troll because I dare question the house think.

    Get over it.

  60. BTW, the Dan T. post at 5:05pm isn’t me either.

    Enough with the handle spoofing, Jennifer. It’s gotten old.

  61. I do suspect somewhat that Jennifer is one of the spoofs.

  62. I usually assume that the more I’m mocked, the better my points are.

    You’re wrong. As I’ve said to you before, if I roll my eyes every time you speak, it is technically true to say you “inspire me to look at things in a new way,” but not in the flattering way you’d like to believe.

    I do suspect somewhat that Jennifer is one of the spoofs.

    Wrong again.

    I’m only considered a troll because I dare question the house think.

    Wrong yet again. You’re considered a troll because you reliably say the exact opposite of whatever is being discussed, solely to provoke a response. If Jacob Sullum says “it’s stupid to imprison children for consensual sex,” you won’t discuss that topic but merely say “Jacob Sullum wants all children to be sexually promiscuous.” And when he says “this war on drugs is awful,” you’ll add that he wants every single person in America to become a five-joint-a-day pothead, too.

    By the way, I’ve been posting here for three years, and you’re the first and only one I’ve seen who was so obnoxious as to inspire a mass spoofing revolt. I imagine this makes you proud on some level–better to be hated than ignored, right? People notice you exist, hooray!–but honestly, Dan: it takes serious assholery to make a bunch of independent-minded libertarians join forces like that.

    Stop flattering yourself. You’re not disliked because you’re some edgy freethinker jarring us out of our complacency; you’re the online equivalent of a guy who picks his nose at a formal dinner and then says “Hey, I’m a brave guy challenging your stale notions of etiquette!” No, you’re a social retard who never figured out that you shouldn’t pick your nose in public.

  63. A cost/benefit equation is an abstraction, Evan!.
    You criticized the joke without addressing the analysis. Neither of us knows what the “cost/benefit equation” is, but I know that if you lower the cost of an activity, reckless driving, people are inclined to do more of it. Whether the benefit of saved lives swamps the incentive to drive poorly is an empirical question that neither I, and I doubt you, are prepared to answer.

  64. My feelings about seat belt laws are like about anti-helmet laws: if you don’t want to use one, then don’t.

    HOWEVER, I don’t want to have to clean up your brains on the road after you’ve smashed into a tree/skidded at 90 mph/hit a deer/gone through the windshielf. And I don’t want to have my taxes raised because we have to pay higher fees to cover emergency room treatment for idiots who should have known better than to be not wearing a helmet in the first place. You break your neck and turn into a vegetable, who’s going to take care of you? You gonna hand *that* responsibility over to the gov’t as well?

    Too many ibertarians are like this: all the rights with none of the responsibilities.

  65. Wrong yet again. You’re considered a troll because you reliably say the exact opposite of whatever is being discussed, solely to provoke a response. If Jacob Sullum says “it’s stupid to imprison children for consensual sex,” you won’t discuss that topic but merely say “Jacob Sullum wants all children to be sexually promiscuous.” And when he says “this war on drugs is awful,” you’ll add that he wants every single person in America to become a five-joint-a-day pothead, too.

    What this tells me is that due to handle spoofing, you have no idea which posts were really mine and which were not.

  66. Dan, would you like some cheese to go with that whine?

  67. What this tells me is that due to handle spoofing, you have no idea which posts were really mine and which were not.

    No, O Victimized One, I was talking about the sort of behavior from you that inspired the spoofing in the first place. Ever read the story of the boy who cried wolf? If not, do so. Its lessons can well apply to your own experience.

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