Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Libertarian Paternalism

Will Wilkinson at Reason Magazine complains about libertarian paternalism:
The fear—shared by libertarians, liberals, and some of the behavioral economists themselves—is that exposing humans as "irrational" perpetrators of cognitive "anomalies" invites invasive control by paternalistic elites.

From my point of view, America already has the invasive control by the paternalistic elite. And, the paternalistic elite have been insatiable in their desire to gain more and more control as a means to achieve their ends. Thaler and Sunstein's libertarian paternalism gives these paternalistic elite a new means to achieve their ends without having to resort to the draconian means of even more invasive control. In that since, I think libertarians should thank Thaler and Sunstein for their work.

Wilkinson goes on to offer the following critique:
A liberty-minded "libertarian paternalist" would focus more than Thaler and Sunstein do on reinstating choices that the state has already stripped away.

While this is true, libertarians on their own initiative could use libertarian paternalism to reopen closed debates and restore lost choices to the American people.