Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on April 25, 2022

in Hubris and humility, Nanny State, Risk and Safety

… is from page 72 of Christopher Snowdon’s excellent 2017 book, Killjoys: A Critique of Paternalism:

The ‘public health’ paternalist does not concern himself with odds, trade-offs or the size of the risk to the individual. When looking at mortality statistics he does not concern himself with the age at which people succumb to their ‘lifestyle-related diseases’, nor does he see what disease would have affected them had they avoided the avoidable disease. All he sees are the thousands of preventable deaths somewhere in the world….

DBx: The different goods, services, and experiences that make for a fulfilling human life are enormous in number and they differ in their details from person to person. What also differs from person to person is the relative weights that individuals attach to equal-sized increments of each ‘good.’ While both you and I attach positive value to the prospect of extending our lives for an additional year, the amount of exercise and refraining from drinking that I’m willing to do in pursuit of this benefit likely differs from the amount that you’re willing to do. If so, for either of us to wag an accusatory finger at the other is arrogant and uncivilized.

Each ‘public-heath paternalist’ is arrogant and uncivilized. He or she arrogantly supposes that his or her subjective assessment of the relative values of different goods, services, and experiences is the objectively (the ‘scientifically’) correct one, and then resorts to coercion to impose on legions of strangers his or her assessment – which is, of course, little more than the existing state of that particular individual’s personal preferences. That this officious tyrant does so in the name of science only adds further insult to injury.

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