Mencken on Mayor Mike

by Don Boudreaux on June 5, 2012

in Hubris and humility, Man of System, Nanny State, Regulation

Here’s a letter sent a few days ago to the New York Times:

Frank Bruni applauds Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of large sugary drinks (“Trimming a Fat City,” June 3).  H.L. Mencken, in contrast, would slam Bloomberg’s officiousness for what it is: a modern manifestation of the Puritanism that has long contaminated life in these United States.

Mencken’s description of a 1920s-era Puritan applies perfectly to Michael Bloomberg, Frank Bruni, and the countless other Puritans today who, like Puritans of the past, self-gratify their egos by stalking, pestering, and shackling innocent people: “With the best intentions in the world he cannot rid himself of the delusion that his duty to save us from our sins – i.e., from the non-Puritanical acts that we delight in – is paramount to his duty to let us be happy in our own way.”*

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

* H.L. Mencken, Notes on Democracy (New York: Dissident Books, 2009 [1926]), p. 133.


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