Hands Off

by Don Boudreaux on February 19, 2016

in Man of System, Nanny State

Mr. Jay Lott:

Mr. Lott:

Commenting on a Facebook post of mine – a post in which I ridicule arrogant people who distrust individuals to make their own private choices – you say “What you want, and what’s good for you, are often not the same thing. We are all human, after all.”  True.  But it’s also true that what others want for you, and what’s good for you, are even more often not the same thing.  None of us is a god, after all.

Contrary to the presumptions of most behavioral economists and other nanny-staters, the fact that Jones and Smith are sometimes deficient when choosing for themselves in the market does not make them less deficient when choosing for others in the voting booth or in some government office complex.

One more point: even if I’m terrible at making choices in my own best interest, a fundamental truth is that I own me.  No one else owns me.  No one has a moral right to tell me what to do as regards my own well-being.  I, like any other self-respecting person, would much prefer even to ruin my life if I do so through my own choices than to be to be saddled, bridled, and steered, as if I were a mindless animal, by some pretentious do-gooder to his or her notion of utopia.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030


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