Why we need an overarching government:
Sarah Conly, an assistant professor of philosophy at Bowdoin College, is the author of “Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism.”One of the myriad problems with "logic" like that is that it only works when the "right" people are in charge, when the "right" people know what's best for you. I think it would be best if students said the Pledge of Allegiance in school each day, but I doubt Sarah would agree. When the "wrong" people are in charge, I'm sure Sarah would argue that their laws are too painful, too burdensome, just plain wrong.
A lot of times we have a good idea of where we want to go, but a really terrible idea of how to get there. It’s well established by now that we often don’t think very clearly when it comes to choosing the best means to attain our ends. We make errors. This has been the object of an enormous amount of study over the past few decades, and what has been discovered is that we are all prone to identifiable and predictable miscalculations...
So do these laws mean that some people will be kept from doing what they really want to do? Probably — and yes, in many ways it hurts to be part of a society governed by laws, given that laws aren’t designed for each one of us individually. Some of us can drive safely at 90 miles per hour, but we’re bound by the same laws as the people who can’t, because individual speeding laws aren’t practical. Giving up a little liberty is something we agree to when we agree to live in a democratic society that is governed by laws.The freedom to buy a really large soda, all in one cup, is something we stand to lose here. For most people, given their desire for health, that results in a net gain. For some people, yes, it’s an absolute loss. It’s just not much of a loss.
Of course, what people fear is that this is just the beginning: today it’s soda, tomorrow it’s the guy standing behind you making you eat your broccoli, floss your teeth, and watch “PBS NewsHour” every day. What this ignores is that successful paternalistic laws are done on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis: if it’s too painful, it’s not a good law. Making these analyses is something the government has the resources to do, just as now it sets automobile construction standards while considering both the need for affordability and the desire for safety.
I wonder if she supports abortion....
You live your life your way, I'll live my life my way, and lots not impinge on each other any more than is absolutely necessary. That is freedom, and I'm all for it.
Update: This sums it up for me:
I want a "leave me alone" society -- one where Christian schools can turn people away for rejecting their doctrine, just as gay rights groups can reject those who don't share their beliefs. I don't want us all to get along -- not because I'm misanthropic (well, not just because I'm misanthropic), but because I know that "consensus" is usually a fancy word for muting minority viewpoints. I want us all to be free to be annoyed with each other from our separate corners. Is that too much to ask?In other words, I support tolerance. I'll tolerate you and your dumb ideas as long as you don't try to impose those dumb ideas on me.
Update #2, 4/3/13: Here's a great post on the food police:
I am reading a new book by professor Jayson Lusk titled The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate. The author is tired of the food socialists coming after trans-fats, Happy Meals, Twinkies, and soda. The book seeks to debunk “the myths propagated by the holier-than-thou foodie elite who think they know exactly what we should grow, cook, and eat"...
It is a dangerous dynamic and one that feeds into power for the political class at the expense of the individual. Those of us who believe in freedom must fight for Happy Meals, Twinkies, and, yes, even the occasional trans-fats, for the food police are more dangerous than these.