'I'm Sure That You Think You Don't Want Help'


Over at The American Spectator, reason contributor Shawn Macomber reviews Scott Stein's satirical novel Mean Martin Manning, which imagines a not-too-distant future in which nosy social workers are empowered to forcibly improve crotchety shut-ins:

Pitney [the social worker] is there to make Manning [the shut-in] eat his vegetables, both literally and figuratively. If Martin Manning isn't renouncing the things or behaviors she believes he should, he isn't progressing. And if he isn't progressing, he certainly isn't improving. Failure to improve clearly places him in noncompliance with the rules and regulations of a life-improvement zone, however content he may erroneously believe he is.

"I'm sure that you think you don't want help," Pitney tells the shut-in when he tries to opt out of her non-optional assistance. "That's standard. In fact, not wanting help is one of the signs of needing it. Yours is a textbook case."

Last fall in reason, I interviewed Stein about his book.