• http://www.facebook.com/hugo.ganca Hugo Gança

    I do so
    hate it when someone else, too often long since dead, expresses my position on
    a matter far better than I ever could. That Mill guy sure knew how to turn a
    phrase.

    The hypocrisy
    of all these rules and laws “for your own good” always draws a bitter laugh
    from me:” you’re 18 now, and free to volunteer to go to war if you so wish, but
    you have to wait 3 years to legally drink a beer, because it might be bad for
    you and you are not mature enough to make that decision yet”. If you fail to
    wear a helmet on your motorbike ride to your job as a stunt-man, you will get
    fined to discourage such dangerous behavior. Astronauts have to wear
    seat-belts; terminal cancer patients cannot indulge in heroin (it might kill
    them!). In New York City it is deemed to be unacceptably unhealthy to drink
    soda from too large a cup, but you can still sleep on the streets in sub-zero
    weather.

    But even if
    it were not hypocritical, it would still be unacceptable. If we are indeed irrational
    in making choices for ourselves, we would be as irrational in making choices
    for others, and far less motivated to be right. 5 to 6 odds of success might
    sound like good odds and a rational choice to make if it is not you to one
    playing Russian roulette. The dangers to health may easily outweigh the benefits
    in pain reduction for a given narcotic if it is not your pain. There is also
    the small matter of denying agency, imposing (by force or threat of force) the
    will of one person over the will of another, treating them as one would a child
    or a pet. My body, my consequences, my choice.

    • http://www.synapses.co.za/ Jacques Rousseau

      If you have the time, do check out the Sunnstein review linked above. These and other concerns do seem to be addressed in the book (how well, I don’t know).

      • http://www.facebook.com/hugo.ganca Hugo Gança

        Thank you,
        I did. As I believe we will not be pursuing this, I leave you with a joke:”If
        you stop drinking hard liquor, smoking cigars, taking mad risks and chasing
        loose women, you maybe might not live longer….but it sure as Hell will FEEL that way….”.

  • keddaw

    “The sorts of people who complain about a nanny state are often the same sorts of people who know what they want”

    Like the unemployed person who would happily work as a taxi driver but laws stop him being able to trade his time, expertise and gas for another’s money? Or the single mother who could easily charge a little to look after another local kid or two (allowing those mothers to go out to work) but is stopped from doing so because being a mother isn’t qualification enough for looking after kids? Are those the people you meant who have a “middle class problem”?

    “Some libertarians might argue that even prescriptions for medication are an undue restriction on my free choices.”

    Pretty sure you mean ALL libertarians here. Assuming you mean that all medicines are illegal unless accompanied with a prescription.

    “never mind those for whom simply having choices is a luxury.”

    State action, in most instances, reduce poor people’s choices – from minimum wage to artificially restricting employment.

    “even though, as a matter of logic, most of us would have to be [average]”

    This isn’t necessarily true. Poor application of logic.

    “what if our irrationality is so profound that we typically make sub-optimal choices”

    Then people who have awareness of this can sign up to give part of their liberty away to allow others to make choices on their behalf, but don’t go forcing that choice on everyone else, we already know you’re irrational and make sub-optimal choices…

    • http://www.synapses.co.za/ Jacques Rousseau

      Hehe. A lovely demonstration of the caricature, thanks.