The Programmatic Paternalist
By Bryan Caplan
Suppose you were a free-thinking, hard-core paternalist. Regardless of the forms of paternalism that people in your society will accept, you’re determined to give them forms of paternalism they need. If coercing people for their own good will in fact makes them happier, you’re for it – across the board, and down the line.
Question: If you were this programmatic paternalist, what novel policies would you favor? The sky’s the limit. Would you favor stricter regulation of sexual behavior? Censorship? Dietary policies? The return of alcohol prohibition? A tobacco ban? More libertarian paternalism? More hard paternalism?
The only constraint on your answer should be your factual knowledge of what would actually increase human happiness. Please avoid tautological answers such as, “Whatever people do automatically makes them as happy as they can be in their budget set.” You wouldn’t say this about three-year-olds, would you? And surely some adults have less sense than the typical three-year-old.
Please share your answer and show your work.