Thursday, April 29, 2010

Intentions versus Consequences

The discussion between Thaler and Whitman (et al) over on CATO this month on the topic of paternalism seems relevant to our ongoing concern with liberty, security, the state and redistribution.

Whitman writes:

What is dangerous about their framing of the issue? I will highlight two features.

First, there is the failure to draw important distinctions between public and private, and between coercive and voluntary. Most of the new paternalists simply don’t mention these distinctions at all.

The two issues raised by Whitman are indeed critical. Those favoring the replacement of individualism with policies and planning may intentionally blur these distinctions. The result is that the majority in society fail to see this distinction - hard as this is to believe. Returning to my man on the street survey, how many people see taxes as coercive?

Hayek's view is that planners must, by necessity first avoid the rule of law, then dismantle the rule of law to achieve policies and plans that further social justice. That is, once general rules are rejected and replaced with specific regulations for specific individuals or groups of individuals, the advance toward serfdom and tyranny has commenced.
Intentions versus Consequences

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