Public Goods, Private Goods, and Paternalism
By Arnold Kling
My latest essay is on these topics.
There are three layers to the argument against paternalism. The first layer is purely libertarian, which says that government compulsion of individuals is always wrong. The second layer is utilitarian, which says that, contrary to the intuition of Steven Weinberg and others on the left, we are better off with a larger private sector and a smaller public sector. The final layer is what in economics is known as Public Choice Theory, which says that it is unrealistic to expect government officials to be wise and benevolent, given that they themselves are mere mortals with human desires and human flaws.
For Discussion. When is paternalism most justified?