The start of a new month means new articles at Econlib!
Gina Miller Johnson warns of the Danger of Benevolent Paternalism. Concerned by the increase in calls from her students and from the population as a whole for “The government to do something” almost regardless of what the “something” might be, Miller Johnson observes that this rapidly leads to government overreach.
In a crisis like a pandemic, these dangers are heightened. “Whatever one’s view of the proper role of government as it relates to public health, another question must be posed: when, if ever, does public health provision as a public good supersede the protection of civil liberties as a fundamental role of the state? The initial wake of the pandemic saw disturbing support for sacrificing civil liberties in the name of public health.’
Michael L. Davis asks How Can Economists Help? “The question of whether economists help people has been on my mind a lot lately. This is an extraordinary time. People need help and, as Russ [Roberts] likes to remind us, one of Adam Smith’s most important insights is that “man naturally desires not only to be loved but to be lovely.” Most of us genuinely want to help. But we don’t know how to hook up a ventilator, we don’t have the local knowledge necessary to deliver fresh milk to the store and most of us wouldn’t even be very good at stocking the cooler once the milk arrives. Do economists have anything to offer?”
Don’t worry! Davis has nine suggestions for economists who want to use their skills to help out right now.
Arnold Kling reviews Mending America’s Political Divide by René H. Levy. The book offers “a neuroscientist’s perspective on the phenomenon of political polarization. Our politics is stimulating our tribal instincts, which lead us to lose empathy with the other side. This lack of empathy has dangerous consequences.” While Kling feels that the book “offers a sound diagnosis of our political ills. It offers a prescription that I wish more people would take to heart” he has some concerns about a lack of balance in Levy’s arguments.