Public Health

A Paternalist Worries About Paternalism

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Harvard

Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, who advocates "libertarian paternalism" in his book Nudge (co-authored by University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler), worries about the consequences of inviting the government to protect us from ourselves in a recent New York Review of Books essay. Sunstein agrees with Bowdoin philosopher Sarah Conly, author of Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, that people are prone to cognitive biases that lead to decisions they regret:

For example, many of us show "present bias": we tend to focus on today and neglect tomorrow. For some people, the future is a foreign country, populated by strangers. Many of us procrastinate and fail to take steps that would impose small short-term costs but produce large long-term gains. People may, for example, delay enrolling in a retirement plan, starting to diet or exercise, ceasing to smoke, going to the doctor, or using some valuable, cost-saving technology. Present bias can ensure serious long-term harm, including not merely economic losses but illness and premature death as well.

But while Sunstein wants to help people achieve their own goals through relatively mild interventions, such as displaying fruit more conspicuously in cafeterias and making 401(k) participation automatic unless employees opt out, Conly believes sterner measures, including outright prohibition, are sometimes justified. She sees New York City's ban on trans fats in restaurant dishes as a model of effective paternalism, and she favors government-mandated limits on food portions. At the same time, she is "ambivalent" about preventing people from using food stamps to buy soda: "She is not convinced that the health benefits would be significant, and she emphasizes that people really do enjoy drinking soda." Her "most controversial claim," Sunstein says, is that the benefits of banning cigarettes would outweigh the costs. Sunstein is appropriately skeptical:

Any ban would raise exceedingly serious difficulties, not least because it would be hard to enforce. A full analysis would have to consider such difficulties, as well as the claims of free choice. Black markets in cigarettes are not exactly what the United States most needs now. 

So here we have two smart and thoughtful people who disagree about the net impact of cigarette prohibition. Is there any reason to think this dispute can ever be definitively resolved, or that if it could legislators would choose the correct policy? The history of drug prohibition—which Sunstein conspicuously fails to mention, even when citing examples of current policies that are defended on paternalistic grounds—suggests it is unrealistic to expect the government to meddle in people's lives based on a careful, rational appraisal of costs and benefits. Even if people like Conly and Sunstein were in charge, they would find, as the technocratic authors of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know discovered, that value judgments are unavoidable in assessing the merits of using force to stop people from doing things that might harm them.

Sunstein notes some other problems with utilitarian-minded paternalism. Conly says the government's interventions should serve people's interests as they themselves perceive them, presumably in retrospect or upon careful reflection. But "the line between means and ends can be fuzzy," Sunstein says, "and there is a risk that well-motivated efforts to promote people's ends will end up mischaracterizing them." After all, a big part of the utilitarian case against paternalism is that people, by and large, are the best judges of their own interests; that is, they understand those interests better than an outside observer possibly can. While the observer sees you order dessert and thinks you will regret it, he could be wrong; perhaps the pleasure of that dessert, given your tastes and preferences, outweighs any long-term impact on your waistline or health. It is folly to think that a government-appointed guardian can do a better job of assessing such matters than you can. It is even more fanciful to suppose that a top-down, one-size-fits-all policy, such as taxing, rationing, or banning desserts, could ever achieve the right balance, assuming that such a thing could be calculated. The problem is akin to centrally planning an economy, except that the goal, instead of balancing supply and demand, is to maximize human happiness. As Sunstein observes, "Freedom of choice is an important safeguard against the potential mistakes of even the most well-motivated officials."

Another objection to Conly's ambitious nanny state agenda, Sunstein writes, is that "autonomy is an end in itself and not merely a means." When it comes to how people feel about their lives, they may well prefer to make their own mistakes rather than have better decisions imposed upon them. Conly does take that preference into account, Sunstein says, but as "merely one consideration among many" in her cost-benefit analysis: "If a paternalistic intervention would cause frustration, it is imposing a cost, and that cost must count in the overall calculus."

The implication is that the government should treat grown men and women the way a parent treats a child who wants a piece of cake before dinner. Anticipation of the child's complaints is a consideration when the parent decides whether to intervene, but it is not necessarily decisive. While it is reasonable to credit the parent in that situation with superior knowledge, foresight, and wisdom, it is not safe to make such an assumption about government, which consists of the same fallible creatures whose frequent errors are said to justify oversight of their personal habits. If Sarah Conly can't be trusted to decide how much to eat, whether to consume products that contain trans fats, or whether to smoke cigarettes, how can she be trusted to make such decisions for the entire population?

I surveyed the wide-ranging agenda of public-health paternalism in the May 2007 issue of Reason.

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139 responses to “A Paternalist Worries About Paternalism

  1. For some people, the future is a foreign country, populated by strangers.

    Others are delusional, and believe that the future will be just like the present, and they will know everyone they meet there. These people are always shocked when their actions have consequences that are undesirable, and frequently claim these consequences were “unintended”.

  2. Way OT

    While I do not support Hannity or FOX, and I do not know shit about this guy other than what’s in the video, if the Republicans were to embrace a man like this, I’d vote for him.

    This is truly an inspirational story and if you have 10 minutes it’s worth a watch.

    And if T o n y is on, THIS is how you make it in this nation…NOT handouts.

    1. Eh?

      1. Sometimes I’m not too bright.

    2. Sunstein is one of the biggest statist assholes to ever walk the planet.

      He FULLY WANTS to force you to do what he thinks you should so. It’s just that he recognizes that it is not possible to ban everything that Bloomberg dreams up to ban, and enforce it.

      He’s not saying that because of his Libertarianism, he’s just being more of a realist here than most statist fucktards. But he is still a statist fucktard, don’t be fooled.

      1. I agree with you, Hyperion – the only response anyone should have to Sunstein’s various schemes is “fuck off, slaver”.

        Light fetters with plenty of slack are chains nonetheless.

      2. Damn, I thought you were talking about Sunstein. Until I noticed others asking for a link… so where is it?

    3. This guy would be a great candidate for… something.

  3. [P]eople are prone to cognitive biases that lead to decisions they regret:

    So we should trust a government voted in by those same people. The internal contradiction of majoritarian paternalism continually escapes people’s notice.

    1. They are the Right Thinking people voting for the Right People. How on Earth could they be wrong?

    2. Bingo. People are that and they continue to be so even after they become central planners the difference is that when central planners make decisions they later regret, not just them but everyone suffers.

  4. Sigh. Taking as an axiom that everyone does/will/ought to value the same things equally is why they can’t ever see the libertarian view. It is also why things like markets and the failure of huge bureaucratic programs continue to surprise and dismay them.

    1. They do this because they have a bedrock level delusion that they are right about everything. Such an attitude is narcissistic in the extreme, to the point of near sociopathy. They cannot empathize with another human being and realize that that person might think differently from them or make different choices and have different priorities.

      1. But enough about Libertarians…

        1. And your mom?

          1. Yes, most definitely my mom. She always thinks she’s right. And she’ll beat you if you disagree.

            1. Momma Sparky, I am not sure I agree with you that… ouch! Ow, hey, cut it out! OW!

            2. That fucking wooden spoon. Goddam.

              1. That fucking wooden spoon. Goddam.

                I take it your mother had one too? Mine started using it when she kept hurting her hand.

                1. Wooden spoon? We had some specialized device made out of industrial belting. I surreptitiously threw them all away and gave one to an HR manager of my acquaintance. I found out from the woman who used to make them that they’re in short supply and I could’ve made some money off of them…

            3. Your mom is Obama?

      2. Yeah. God forbid. If only we had some sort of mechanism by which people who valued things and time differently could exchange them and both walk away feeling like they had achieved more value for the exchange. What would we call it?

        1. Backward?

        2. Dangerous!!

        3. A way for evil capitalism to oppress both of those people.

        4. Christfaggery.

  5. I’d like to know when they will begin to apply these insights on cognitive bias to Government decision-makers. Is there any reason to think that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t suffer from “present bias?” Perhaps she should have to pay a tax every time she votes to increase current spending at expense of future spending.

    1. Reducing the Congressional pay would be a sign of disrespect for the office.

      1. Make it zero, Dude!

        1. Seriously!?!?!?

          /Nan P

          1. I don’t know if I’m in contempt of Congress, but my contempt for Congress is off the charts.

  6. So here we have two smart and thoughtful people

    (sneer)

    Utilitarians, whether paternalists or not, are amoral scum who should be ridiculed and spat upon at every opportunity.

    1. “I don’t believe in absolute right and wrong, and so that’s why I cut my own hair.”

      Seriously, look at it. It looks like he’s Nicolas Cage and he has a bird on his head.

      1. Why do you say such hurtful things about NutraSweet? You know he just doesn’t know any better.

      2. It is impossible to think such a thing as ‘Gawd, I look like shit, I wonder if anyone notices?’ while you are sitting in your ivory tower.

        If you don’t know that, I think you have not spent much time in .edu land.

    2. They’re not amoral you damn fool. They have an insanely skewed sense of morality.

      1. Not at all. Utilitarianism is inherently amoral, as you must abandon morality to practice it. Doing something that’s inherently wrong for “the greater good” is disgustingly amoral; it’s all just abstract calculations.

        1. wait a minute…utilitarianism is not about doing something “that’s inherently wrong,” it is about doing what has the most benefit for the greatest number. At least that’s how it is supposed to work.

          1. The classic example is: “Would you kill 1 or 5 or 99 to save 100?”

            Killing 99 to save 100 is a greater good for a greater number. Obviously to get the “greatest good”, you should kill the minimum, not the maximum, but the point remains.

        2. Utilitarianism is a moral code. Utilitarian moral calculations are made based on what will bring the greatest good to the greatest number. You might not like it, I certainly don’t, but there it is. You might as well argue that Kantian morality is also amoral because it doesn’t take consequences into account and only cares about the will to act out of pure duty.

          1. Quantify “good” and we’ll talk. Quantify competing “goods”. Are all lives the same? Should we kill 99 people to save 100? What if the 99 were old and the 100 are young? What if the 99 are young and the 100 are old?

            1. Are all lives the same? Should we kill 99 people to save 100? What if the 99 were old and the 100 are young? What if the 99 are young and the 100 are old?

              Ask a Utilitarian. I suspect that the answer is “it depends.” At least, that’s what Mill said.

            2. But one of the old guys was about to discover the cure for cancer. You’ve doomed us all!

          2. To me, doing the greatest good for the greatest number has nothing to do with morality, but I guess that’s just my perspective. In any case, it can lead to utterly repulsive and horrible results. If harming 49% leads to more good for 51%, technically a utilitarian will do it. And that’s disgusting.

            1. I agree. Of all the brilliant things Mill came up with regarding freedom, it’s pretty sad to see it all wrapped up in utility.

              1. maybe the point of the utilitarian approach was to inject the moral factor into the equation. Along with free will, man was also imbued with a conscience.

                1. Along with free will, man was also imbued with a conscience.

                  If you’re interested in it, read Utilitarianism. Mill, the guy who invented it, was an atheist so he didn’t really muck around with religious aspects of morality.

            2. If harming 49% leads to more good for 51%, technically a utilitarian will do itTony will masturbate furiously at the very thought of it.

              FTFY.

          3. Thank you for making the point that Utilitarianism is amoral, Sparky.

            Do you argue against yourself often? Do you win?

            You cannot be moral if believe in subverting the rights of one individual to benefit another.

            1. I am not a Utilitarian, I admit that I cannot properly defend it because I don’t agree with it.

              That being said, this:

              “You cannot be moral if believe in subverting the rights of one individual to benefit another.”

              is why I am not a Utilitarian. The fact that you don’t agree with the moral code doesn’t suddenly make it not a moral code.

              1. So is it a moral code if it isn’t moral?

                1. That question is bad for morale.

                2. You know what morality is right? It’s a code that determines what is good and what is evil. Utilitarians use the concept of utility to determine good and evil, therefore Utilitarianism is a moral code. I didn’t make it up, I don’t agree with it, but I don’t think it’s amoral.

                  1. But its self-referential. Good is the “the greatest good for the greatest number”. Okay. What is good?

                    1. Okay. What is good?

                      “In reality, utility is defined as pleasure itself, and the absence of pain. Thus another name for utility is the Greatest Happiness Principle. This principle holds that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure.” Pleasure and the absence of pain are, by this account, the only things desirable as ends in themselves, the only things inherently “good.” Thus, any other circumstance, event, or experience is desirable only insofar as it is a source for such pleasure; actions are good when they lead to a higher level of general happiness, and bad when they decrease that level.”

                    2. As I’ve stated before, and I stand by it…

                      A philosophy that does not have its foundations in the NAP, is NOT moral.

                    3. A philosophy that does not have its foundations in the NAP, is NOT moral.

                      And as I’ve stated before, the NAP is not all that great a moral compass either.

                    4. I thought about our discussion the other day and came to a conclusion.

                      Having the right to retaliate does not mean you have the obligation to retaliate. Whether you choose to retaliate for an action against another must be weighed to determine if the retaliation is actually in your best interest.

                      So in your example…Iran strikes Israel, we would have the right to sanction/strike Iran because they initiated force. However, before doing so, we need to do a cost benefit analysis to determine if helping Israel is warranted.

                    5. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit also. My real problem with the NAP is that it reduces everything to terms of force. Added to that is the belief that disproportionate retaliation is acceptable, if not necessary. Then, there are enough loopholes left that just about anything you want can be determined to be an act of aggression. You end up with situations like:

                      You came on my property, THAT’S AGGRESSION *BLAM BLAM*
                      You stole from me, THAT’S AGGRESSION *BLAM BLAM*
                      You lied to me, THAT’S AGGRESSION *BLAM BLAM*

                      And then there are situations where these can be worked around by redefining terms.

                      I want your book/movie/music but I don’t want to pay for it. I’m not stealing because IP shouldn’t exist.
                      I lied to you but it’s not fraud because the outcome was innocuous.

                      At least, that’s a start.

                    6. In any philosophy there must always be human interpretation of what constitutes X. Was it fraud, was it trespass, was it theft…

                      This is why I am not an anarchist. When rights come into conflict there needs to be a decider, backed by force, that makes the call. Government has a purpose, and that is its only one…to protect the rights of the individual.

                    7. In any philosophy there must always be human interpretation of what constitutes X.

                      I agree. This is why moral codes will always be disputed and problems will always exist. The only true comprehensive moral code would be something that every person on Earth agrees to, and I think we can agree that such a thing will never happen. That means that the best we can hope for is that whatever ruling party is put above us at least mostly agrees with our own moral sense.

                    8. I think you miss my point. Who could possibly disagree with, you can do anything you want, provided you don’t harm anyone else in the process?

                      It’s not all encompassing. No philosophy could be. My right to smoke in public comes up against your right to not breathe my smoke. Someone, a human, must decide who’s right trumps the other. A court.

                    9. Who could possibly disagree with, you can do anything you want, provided you don’t harm anyone else in the process?

                      Look around, read the news, there are plenty of people in the world who disagree.

                      It’s not all encompassing. No philosophy could be.

                      Right, that was my point.

                      CONT.

                    10. Someone, a human, must decide who’s right trumps the other. A court.

                      “The justice of giving equal protection to the rights of all, is maintained by those who support the most outrageous inequality in the rights themselves. Even in slave countries it is theoretically admitted that the rights of the slave, such as they are, ought to be as sacred as those of the master; and that a tribunal which fails to enforce them with equal strictness is wanting in justice; while, at the same time, institutions which leave to the slave scarcely any rights to enforce, are not deemed unjust, because they are not deemed inexpedient. Those who think that utility requires distinctions of rank, do not consider it unjust that riches and social privileges should be unequally dispensed; but those who think this inequality inexpedient, think it unjust also. Whoever thinks that government is necessary, sees no injustice in as much inequality as is constituted by giving to the magistrate powers not granted to other people. Even among those who hold levelling doctrines, there are as many questions of justice as there are differences of opinion about expediency.” – John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism

  7. “Any ban would raise exceedingly serious difficulties, not least because it would be hard to enforce. A full analysis would have to consider such difficulties, as well as the claims of free choice. Black markets in cigarettes are not exactly what the United States most needs now.”

    What the United States does need, though, is a black market for guns. Let’s begin conducting the full analysis!

  8. Black markets in cigarettes are not exactly what the United States most needs now.

    I’d say we need it a hell of a lot more than we need damn near everything these sociopathic assholes have planned for us.

    1. What? Any number of enterprising young people (many of color) are making fat stacks of cash bootlegging cigarettes into NYC. Are you telling me this isn’t what they intended?!

      1. “…people(many of color)…”

        Where’s barfman? He’ll set your thinking straight.

  9. I find it difficult to see how Sunstein, who thinks we can all use a guiding hand, can draw a coherent distinction between his soft paternalism and Conly’s much harder version. It strikes me as a degree of difference, not kind, and that Conly is taking Sunstein’s arguments to their logical conclusions. The fact that Sunstein is squeamish about where she ends up should give him pause and make him reconsider his starting point.

    But it won’t.

    1. I think (although I haven’t studied his work in detail) that Sunstein distinguishes his “soft” paternalism from Conly’s jackbooted nanny state by endorsing only “incentives” rather than mandates backed up, ultimately, by billy clubs, jackboots, police dogs, SWAT teams, and jail time.

      However, if he believes this distinction will actually be honored, he is as naive as the Keynesians who believe the government will cut its spending in real terms when times are good.

      Like the Keynesians, he is performing the role of court theologian, providing justification and apologia for what the King wants to do anyway.

      1. Yeah, Nudge was all about making the default in systems a ‘better’ choice than what it currently is. You’re still free to choose, but the choices made for you by default if you do nothing would be different. It still seemed to me that somebody is making the choice for you and it still ends up being done under color of law, so it’s still backed by the rods and the axe.

      2. And how does he propose to back up his “incentives?” If I refuse to pay the tax that is supposed to incentivize me to do the right thing, the Government has to pull out the billy clubs, jackboots, police dogs, SWAT teams, and jail time.

    2. I think the difference between making fruit more prominent and, say, requiring people to buy fruit is a pretty clear distinction.

      Once you get into the “have to” of transfats, portion sizes, etc. I think it’s a difference of kind.

    3. soft paternalism definition, from Liberpedia:

      To nudge towards behavior that you, in your ultimate wisdom, know to be the correct behavior for all of your inferiors, which would be everyone, until that fails, and then sic the goon squads on em and send off to re-education camp.

  10. It’s amazing to me how much people don’t realize that regular old humans are what runs government. If regular old humans are too untrustworthy to run their own lives, how are they able to run other people’s lives?

    Centralized control by flawed people doesn’t do anything to improve decentralized control by flawed people. And the latter, at least, involves personal incentives to perform when there’s no bailout process.

    1. It seems like it really comes down to “we’re smart, you’re stupid.”

      1. It’s the progressive version of “if you’re so smart, how come you’re not rich”. If you were all that smart you’d have one of these Top Men jobs. You don’t, therefore, you’re not that smart, so sit back down and shaddup.

      2. Even if that were true–which it clearly and indisputably isn’t–there are still many millions who are at least as smart as these supposedly intelligent people.

        If people are fools, then people acting collectively are also fools.

    2. If regular old humans are too untrustworthy to run their own lives, how are they able to run other people’s lives?

      Two words.

      Top. Men.

      1. All we need to do is get the right person in office, then everything will be better. We need a real Top Man like Rand Paul or Gary Johnson.

        1. A libertarian dictator!

          What’s funny is there are undoubtedly plenty of lefties who think dictators could be dictators implementing libertarian policies.

          1. Technically, there’s nothing inherently unlibertarian about agreeing to appoint a benevolent tyrant. What if he did nothing but judge competing claims based upon libertarian principles?

            1. Then that person isn’t really a tyrant, are they? Just a judge.

              1. Just because I have ultimate power, doesn’t mean I have to use it. Although Cincinnatus and Washington are the only people to convince the world they meant it. (I remain skeptical. See: Whiskey Rebellion, The)

                1. See, this is where I think many people go wrong with what libertarianism is about. It’s not about being free under an unlimited government. It’s about being free under a limited–or, in deference to Episiarch, no–government.

                  Without the limited government, the freedom is subject to the whim of that government. The less limited, the more true that is.

                  One reason lefties who like some civil liberties aren’t libertarians is that they tend to view rights as emanating from the benevolence of a loving government.

                  1. True. Rights are inalienable, even if you try to vote them away. Its a fair cop.

        2. I think the reason (drink) we want men like Paul and Johnson is that they believe the Top. Men. are you and me…

          But I’m just a crazy libertarian.

          1. At least that’s what they say. And you’re willing to believe them. To each their own.

            1. It’s always possible that they’re lying, but it’s such a loser approach in a socialist system that it seems unlikely.

            2. Do you have reason (drink again) to believe they are lying? Not sure I know anyone with more integrity than Paul. Especially in politics.

              Nobody is perfect so I’ll take Paul until someone better shows up.

              1. I don’t have a reason (have another) to believe they are lying. I only know that they are politicians, the bulk of whom say anything to advance their careers. As for me, I’d just as soon see a new system of government be put in place instead of rearranging who’s at the top of a crumbling pyramid.

                1. The question, of course, is how to get there from here.

                2. What would you like to see instead?

                  I’m fairly happy with the government as provided under the Constitution. That we fail to follow it is a different matter.

                  There are a few things I’d like to see changed. I’d like to see:

                  Term limits
                  Limitations on the commerce clause
                  The first phrase deleted from the Second Amendment
                  Repeal of the 16th

                  What would you have done?

                  1. I’d be okay with a return to most of the original Constitution, with some additional safeguards added in. And, of course, universal suffrage, no slavery, etc.

                  2. What would you have done?

                    I’d have to put a ton more thought into it to give you a decent answer. There is probably a fair compromise between the old Articles of Confederation and the new Constitution. If the plan is to stay with representative democracy, then the country would need to be divided up into smaller ones so that people could get a more fair representation. Term limits would be a good start, making public service not be a career would go a long way. A document that spells out even more strongly than the Constitution, to the point that there is no possible way to interpret otherwise, that there are rights that the government CANNOT fuck with.

                    1. Or just give each citizen a tactical nuke.

                    2. The founders thought the meaning pretty obvious. Madison saw no need for the 10th Amendment because he felt it was obvious. Now we actively disregard even that.

                      The meanings of words change over time providing wiggle room.

                      Perhaps an appendix providing a definition of terms and another defining the terms in the appendix.

  11. Anyone who has an extra minute should follow the Amazon link for Against Autonomy and read the review by Chris Bray.

    (Don’t let the 5-star rating put you off.)

    1. I think I enjoyed his response to his own review even more.

  12. At the same time, she is “ambivalent” about preventing people from using food stamps to buy soda: “She is not convinced that the health benefits would be significant, and she emphasizes that people really do enjoy drinking soda.”

    HAHAHAHAHA… oh man.

    1. coercion on things you buy with your money, freedom of choice when buying on the govt’s nickel?

      1. I think there might be a sort-of libertarian argument for restricting what food stamps can buy. They are meant to keep people from starving, not to provide the poor with food they “enjoy.” Why not make it somewhat restrictive? If you’re going to eat on the taxpayer’s dime, yeah, drink water and eat your vegetables.

  13. I always enjoy the inherent contradiction between politicians and the policies they promote. For instance, we are told that government can intervene in our diets, because we are too fat. Yet Chris Christie is never publicly ridiculed for being a fat fuck. Government discourages smoking, yet Fearless Leader smokes with impunity. Draconian gun control to save the children, meanwhile Fearless Leader blows Pakistani children to smithereens daily. I’m not a genius, but I can spot hypocrisy. Question is, why do the majority of U.S. Americans not see this, too?

    1. Question is, why do the majority of U.S. Americans not see this, too?

      Here.

    2. ris Christie is never publicly ridiculed for being a fat fuck.

      Not to defend Christie, but yeah, he is. His weight is the basis of probably the majority of attacks on him.

      1. Who was the last Democrat who was regularly publicly ridiculed for being fat? Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, and Michael Moore have been mocked for it, but not by the major media AFAIK.

        1. That is true, but they’re Democrats. So long as they tow the party lion they are immune from criticism.

  14. If a paternalistic intervention would cause frustration

    What about when it causes resentment and even full on rage against authority, as it surely will in a lot of people?

  15. If mom says no, go ask dad. If dad says no, go ask mom.

  16. Against Autonomy? Holy fuck…

    These flaws are facts of life. Everyone suffers them in some degree, especially when we’re talking about physical limitations (we can only process so much information, we can’t predict the future, etc.). When an adult recognizes these human flaws, he accepts them and makes the best of it. A child sees them and thinks mommy and daddy can do the impossible.

  17. Conly believes sterner measures, including outright prohibition, are sometimes justified. She sees New York City’s ban on trans fats in restaurant dishes as a model of effective paternalism, and she favors government-mandated limits on food portions is an authoritarian cunt.

    FTFY. The fact that some people will read the shit this bitch (and Sunstein) writes and nod along in agreement makes my skin crawl.

    1. the salutary aspect of Dr. Conly’s book is that it helps us recognize the tautologies and limits of the “libertarian” position about “choice.” Nearly all of our arguments have a soft underbelly and Dr. Conly is writing in a society (Anglo-American) and time where the libertarian positions about “choice” are nearly sacrosanct to the point of religious fervor. Again, her book is a semi-polemic corrective that adds value to our public policy discussions.

      It’s a corrective to “libertarian” “choice”!

      1. Dr. Conly is writing in a society (Anglo-American) and time where the libertarian positions about “choice” are nearly sacrosanct to the point of religious fervor.

        Sentences like this make me believe that we do live in a “multiple worlds” universe, and that leakage between parallel realities happens over the internet.

        1. No shit. I’m not seeing “choice” being sacrosanct in the public discourse about much beyond abortion and gay marriage.

  18. You know what the problem with the GOP is? Well, besides that they were taken over by NeoCon assholes with some SoCon lite thrown in there for good measure, that is.

    They compromise with the leftist Dems. They have compromised themselves way to the left of center.

    Now that the proglodyes have fully taken over the Dems, when we either take over the GOP or they become extinct so that it is only us and the progs, there is only one viable battle plan. NO FUCKING COMPOMISE WITH STATIST ASSHOLES, EVER!

    1. I wonder what “no, fuck you, cut spending” and “fuck off, slaver” are in Latin?

      Might look good on a libertarian coat of arms or banner.

      1. Not sure, but here’s Babelfish’s attempt on the former: “Non, te pedicabo, incide sumptibus.”

        The latter didn’t work very well.

        1. It’s too long for a flag.

          1. *******************************
            Non, te pedicabo

            [Some sort of aggressive
            spending cutting imagery
            .]

            Incide sumptibus
            *******************************

        2. “Te Pedicabo” means “I shall fuck you” (or rather, more literally, “I shall treat you as a boy”). With “incide” I would use the accusative rather than the dative/ablative – “sumpt?s” rather than “sumptibus.”

      2. In Latin, I wouldn’t have a clue. I’ll ask my wife how to say it in Portuguese, because I don’t even know.

        I like the term ‘Livre Vontade’, which is ‘Free Will’ in Portuguese.

        1. I kind of like Ragusa’s motto:

          Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro

          Liberty is not well sold for all the gold

      3. I’ve always been partial to Sic Semper Tyrannus.

        Conveys the appropriate sentiment I do believe.

        1. Ok. Can we put it on a flag with something more scary than a porcupine? Need moar scary. A porcupine carrying an AR-15?

        2. “Tyrannis” rather than “tyrannus.” Dative plural, not nominative singular.

    2. Overton Window. This fact is not lost on lefties. Compromise (in their direction naturally), and they move the goalposts, so the GOP dutifully shifts to the left an equal amount so as not to seem “out of mainstream” (reference Medicare and Social Security) and the lefties start again.

      1. Exactly, they never move to the ‘center’, like they are always imploring evil extremists to do.

        They go for everything that they want, then they cry and whine and accept just a little of what they wanted. Then they regroup and do the same again. Inch by inch, they move towards their goal. GOP is too stupid for this tactic.

      2. See also: Fabian Socialism.

    3. NO FUCKING COMPOMISE WITH STATIST ASSHOLES, EVER!

      It’s a tactic with them, AND IT WORKS.

      School shooting:

      Left: We need to have a discussion about sensible gun laws.
      Right: Whatcha have in mind?
      L: Well now that you agree, we are just haggling over price. We think it sensible to get rid of all guns.
      R: We think it sensible to get rid of no guns.
      L: Okay, lets compromise. We will get rid of 1/2 of the guns.
      R: What just happened?

      Wash
      Rinse
      Repeat

      General public: Hey, where did our rights go?

  19. Cass Douchestein can go hug a root.

  20. Isn’t “libertarianism paternalism” a complete contradiction?

    It’s like saying free-market socialist or Christian Atheist.

    Seriously, I don’t get why people like him even need to pretend to have any libertarian leanings. Libertarians know he’s full of shit, and non-libertarians don’t like libertarians, so calling himself one buys him no cred with anybody. Either he’s trying to give us a bad name or just rubbing our faces in it.

    1. free-market socialist

      I’m sure Sheldon Richman can dig up some 19th century one and bitch about political labels and such.

  21. Don’t these folks know that schizophrenics are huge consumers of tobacco?

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