New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 11: Avoiding Paternalist Slopes

by Glen Whitman This will be the final installment in my series of excerpts from Mario’s and my article on the slippery-slope potential of new paternalism. The comments on the posts have been minimal, so I’m uncertain how helpful this series has been. Since I’m considering doing the same with a closely related article Mario … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 11: Avoiding Paternalist Slopes

Regulators Ban Mom’s Banana Bread

by Chidem Kurdas Last week, New York City’s  Panel for Educational Policy approved a new rule for school bake sales. Home-made treats are no-no, but pre-approved packaged products, the ones that are also in school vending machines, are fine. The bake sale ban is supposed to reduce childhood obesity. An education bureaucrat explained that homemade … Continue reading Regulators Ban Mom’s Banana Bread

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 10: Rejoinder to Objections

by Glen Whitman Some new paternalists have recognized the slippery-slope objections to their approach, and they have made some effort to respond. But we find the responses insufficient (p. 735-737): In their book Nudge, Sunstein and Thaler recognize the slippery-slope objections to their policies, and offer three responses. We reply to their responses here.Sunstein and … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 10: Rejoinder to Objections

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 9: Framing in Public Policy

by Glen Whitman And after another long interruption, I’m finally going to finish my series of excerpts from Mario Rizzo’s and my article, “Little Brother Is Watching You: New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes.” There are three more posts, including this one. As discussed in an earlier post, the new paternalists use the notion of … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 9: Framing in Public Policy

The Price of the Mega-State

by Mario Rizzo   The recent Supreme Court decision that “ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections” is a true victory for freedom of speech.    What many people do not realize, however, is that both sides in this dispute had important and valid points. The terrible truth of the … Continue reading The Price of the Mega-State

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 8: Hyperbolic Discounting in Public Policy

by Glen Whitman As discussed in a previous post in this series, the new paternalists often use the concept of hyperbolic discounting (roughly, excessive impatience) to show that people make systematic errors that could, in principle, be corrected by government intervention. But what if policymakers, too, are prone to hyperbolic discounting? That is the question … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 8: Hyperbolic Discounting in Public Policy

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 7: The Inevitable Misinterpretation of New Paternalist Arguments

by Glen Whitman Happy new year! After a holiday-induced hiatus, I’m now resuming the series of excerpts from Mario Rizzo’s and my recently published article, “Little Brother Is Watching You: New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes.” A number of our claims in the paper rely on the new paternalists’ arguments (which are largely based in … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 7: The Inevitable Misinterpretation of New Paternalist Arguments

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 6: Rent Seekers

by Glen Whitman As discussed in the previous post, the “experts” in charge of implementing new paternalist policies will have a tendency to simplify their own theories to make them useful for crafting policy. That alone creates slippery-slope potential. But that potential is magnified by the existence of rent-seekers – that is, interest groups whose … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 6: Rent Seekers

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 5: Deference to Authority

by Glen Whitman Another problem with the new paternalism is that it necessarily involves greater deference to the authority of experts. Here is the basic logic (p. 710): Substantial deference to authority is inherent in the application of new paternalist ideas to public policy. This is because the complexities, vagueness, and indeterminism of their analysis … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 5: Deference to Authority

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 4: Context Dependence

by Glen Whitman New paternalists have also relied on the notion of context dependence to justify their policies. But as with hyperbolic discounting, they unjustifiably assume the existence of an inconsistency of preferences gives the policymaker license to choose among the inconsistent preferences. That assumption is the paper’s next target (pp. 703-704): For a variety … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 4: Context Dependence

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 3: Hyperbolic Discounting

by Glen Whitman New paternalists often rely on the phenomenon of “hyperbolic discounting” to justify their policies. Hyperbolic discounting is difficult to define in a non-mathematical way. It is sometimes summarized as excessive impatience, but that’s an over-simplification. A person with a high-but-consistent rate of time discounting would not be a hyperbolic discounter. What hyperbolic … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 3: Hyperbolic Discounting

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 2: How New Paternalism Creates Gradients

by Glen Whitman A key conclusion of the literature on slippery slopes is that they are especially likely in the presence of gradients -- meaning situations in which there is a relatively smooth continuum from one policy to another, and in which it is difficult to draw sharp distinctions. Gradients don’t guarantee slippery slope events, … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 2: How New Paternalism Creates Gradients

New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 1

by Glen Whitman As Mario has already announced, we've just published a new article, "Little Brother Is Watching You: New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes," in Arizona Law Review. You can find the full text here. The article is quite long. As a result, I expect few people will read the whole thing. I've therefore … Continue reading New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes, Part 1