By Arnold Kling
On many kinds of policy, where one unique alternative must be selected from among many, and the legitimacy of that choice is at least as important as the choice itself, democracy has no equal. One defense budget, one speed limit on any one stretch of road, one standard width for railways, and one choice (left side or right side?) for driving automobiles.
But many choices aren’t like that. There may not be a “we” that has to choose at all, imposing the median view on everyone. Instead, individuals can make their own choices. This is particularly true for innovations, or new ideas cooked up by some oddball.
…We have become too accepting of the views of the middle, in too many aspects of our lives. Worse, we have fallen victim to a soft but encroaching political paternalism.
People now talk about “universal health care” as though this is obviously a good thing. But it just means taking health care decisions out of the hands of individuals and out of the realm of markets. It means putting those decisions ultimately in the hand of politicians.