The New Republic: Opinion- Cass R. Sunstein- “Why Paternalism is Our Friend”: Why The Nanny State is Big Government Gone Wild

Michael Bloomberg
The New Republic: Opinion- Cass R. Sunstein- Why Paternalism is Our Friend

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

And that freedom is dangerous and that it shouldn’t be our goal or the job of government to protect our freedom, but literally to protect the people, as if we are morons or little children and can’t do that for ourselves. And even if that means protecting people from themselves and even locking them up for their own good when they make choices that aren’t in their best interest. Reading the New Republic now, except for Jeff Rosen who is a real Liberal, is like reading the The Nation magazine or the AlterNet, or listening to the political commentary on MSNBC. It’s “big government knows best and has all the answers and individual freedom and choice are dangerous”.

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

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

Paternalism whether it comes from the Far-Left as it relates to the War on Drugs, alcohol prohibition, tobacco, junk food, soft drinks, or whether it comes from the Far-Right as it relates to violent video games or pornography, or trying to outlaw pre-marital sex, or adultery or divorce, it doesn’t work. Because if people want to do things bad enough, they’ll find a way to do it and damn the consequences. One of the reasons why we have taxes and regulations in America is to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior. Not to manage people’s lives for them. That if you want people to make healthy choices, you subsidize that and penalize them when they make unhealthy choices.

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About Erik Schneider

Full-time blogger on a multiple ray of topics and subjects, because of multiple interests.
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