Cass Sunstein has penned a brutally over worded article titled “It’s for your own good!” that makes the case for paternalism and nanny state government. Some people, even Jon Stewart, were outraged over Mayor Bloomberg’s banning of sodas larger than 16oz. But should they be upset? Of course not!
In Mill’s view, the problem with outsiders, including government officials, is that they lack the necessary information. Mill insists that the individual “is the person most interested in his own well-being,” and the “ordinary man or woman has means of knowledge immeasurably surpassing those that can be possessed by any one else.”When society seeks to overrule the individual’s judgment, Mill wrote, it does so on the basis of “general presumptions,” and these “may be altogether wrong, and even if right, are as likely as not to be misapplied to individual cases.” If the goal is to ensure that people’s lives go well, Mill contends that the best solution is for public officials to allow people to find their own path. Here, then, is an enduring argument, instrumental in character, on behalf of free markets and free choice in countless situations, including those in which human beings choose to run risks that may not turn out so well.
Mill’s claim has a great deal of intuitive appeal. But is it right? That is largely an empirical question, and it cannot be adequately answered by introspection and intuition. In recent decades, some of the most important research in social science, coming from psychologists and behavioral economists, has been trying to answer it. That research is having a significant influence on public officials throughout the world. Many believe that behavioral findings are cutting away at some of the foundations of Mill’s harm principle, because they show that people make a lot of mistakes, and that those mistakes can prove extremely damaging
Glenn was not impressed.
“Let me tell you something. I made a lot of mistakes in my life and this is where we’ve gone astray. We’ve made mistakes. That’s part of life. No one is perfect. You’ll make mistakes, but because mistakes have natural consequences, you either learn from those mistakes or you perish. For instance, if I hadn’t learned from my alcoholism, I would end up like ‑‑ who’s the woman that was the country star that just passed away? Mindy McCready. I would end up like that. She couldn’t learn from her mistakes. I did. And because of my mistakes and because I learned from them, I’m better for them. I’m better off for them because I learned from them,” Glenn said.
“Now let’s take it out of the personal and let’s go to the business world. Do you think anybody’s going to learn from their mistakes at the banks? Do you think anybody who is being bailed out by the federal government (has learned from their mistakes)?”
“Every single one of us can look at the federal government right now and say they have present bias. They are only worrying about today and they are not worrying about the consequences of tomorrow. But that’s those of us who don’t really understand people like Cass Sunstein, that don’t really understand.”
“They’re (progressives) encouraging you to live for today. Go out and spend. Help the economy. Well, they don’t. They are laying their plans against us, quite honestly, against man’s freedom. They are building and currently justifying amongst the elites, justifying a world without autonomy. They don’t have present bias. They know exactly what they’re building. They’re building the world of tomorrow. And they are telling you to live, drink and be merry today.”
“Let me tell you something: I stand by the fact that I said several years ago Cass Sunstein is the most dangerous man in America because the Republicans and the Democrats like him,” he said. “People, people in the Republican Party like his choice structure because it gives them more power. People, if you believe in people, you don’t do this. I happen to believe in people, but people will get weaker the more you expect them to be weak. The more ‑‑ the less you expect them to do, the more dumb you expect them to be, the easier you make their life, the more you take away any consequences from any of their actions, they will become everything that you say they are: Dumb, weak, pathetic, and unable to make a choice.”
“The problem with our country is that the people with power believe that’s exactly who you are, and you are allowing them to do it by taking the easy way. By taking and believing in choice structure. By not demanding that choice structure stops. They’re not demanding that we have a right. Instead we demand that somebody takes care of us. Somebody gives us healthcare. Well, if you’re going to pay ‑‑ if you’re going to make somebody else pay for your bad choices and your bad living, well, then there’s only one ‑‑ there’s only one way to do it. We have to stop you from making bad choices because I have to pay for your heart attack. You want to pay for your heart attack? Great. But why should I have to pay for your heart attack? Everybody will say when California slides off the cliff, the financial cliff, ‘Why should I have to pay for Californians? That was their choice.’ And if we all have to pay for California, then I guess we all have to ‑‑ we all have to be involved in California’s decisions. No, let California make their own decisions. They’re different people; they want to live a different way. Let them. If they fail, they fail. They’ll learn… unless we all gather together and bail them out. Then they won’t learn and eventually we’ll all burn down… together.”