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

Little Brother Is Watching You: New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes

by Mario Rizzo   Glen Whitman and I have published another article about the new paternalism – it appears in the Arizona Law Review, volume 51, no. 3 (2009). You can get it here.  This article applies a slippery-slope or policy-dynamic analysis to the “moderate” policies proposed by some new paternalists. (The general slippery-slope analysis was … Continue reading Little Brother Is Watching You: New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes

Fast Track To The Single Payer

by Mario Rizzo   For some time I have been interested in the dynamics of public policy – specifically, how particular policies make further policies more likely. Glen Whitman and I explored this in general terms in our paper, “The Camel’s Nose is in the Tent”  and our own Sandy Ikeda's book, The Dynamics of Interventionism offers a … Continue reading Fast Track To The Single Payer

University of Michigan: Teacher Yes, Father No

by Mario Rizzo     The University of Michigan has announced that it will become completely smoke-free in 2011.      The University has chosen parentalism (in loco parentis) over encouraging the development of responsible, intelligent adults capable of making choices for themselves.   Normally, I would refer to such policies as paternalism but in this context … Continue reading University of Michigan: Teacher Yes, Father No

In Defense of Reasonable Ideology

    by Mario Rizzo   There have been many statements recently to the effect that we should not let “ideology” or “philosophy” stand in the way of solving our economic problems.  Indeed, the Obama Administration (and the previous Bush Administration) are keen to persuade us to drop all of this prejudice and to go … Continue reading In Defense of Reasonable Ideology

Economic Planning versus Democracy: Illustrations from the Commentators

  by Mario Rizzo   Some time ago I posted  “Planning and Democracy” and the related “How Hayek Explains Bush on the Auto Bailout.” Since then I have been struck by how almost every day we see the tension between central direction of economic resources and democracy manifested in the attitudes and analysis of commentators. … Continue reading Economic Planning versus Democracy: Illustrations from the Commentators

U.S. Treasury’s Bailout Framework: Mockery of the Rule of Law

by Mario Rizzo   In an attempt to provide greater transparency and predictability the US Treasury has issued the basic “framework” that will determine whether a troubled “financial institution,” defined extremely broadly as the law allows (see my previous post), will receive governmental aid. Many commentators, including this one, have thought that the Treasury policy … Continue reading U.S. Treasury’s Bailout Framework: Mockery of the Rule of Law

Madoff Scandal Illustrates Cognitive Hazard

By Chidem Kurdas  In the past week a new and dramatic chapter was added to the decades-long history of hedge fund fraud. Barnard Madoff, a well-known, long-time money manager, confessed to a Ponzi game that cost his clients $50 billion. The specific nature of his scheme and the exact amount of the money lost is … Continue reading Madoff Scandal Illustrates Cognitive Hazard

None Dare Call It Socialism

by Mario Rizzo   The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Republican Administration may agree to a bailout package for the US auto industry that would give the government a large financial stake ("warrants") in at least GM and Chrysler.     While it is not clear at this writing whether the warrants would be … Continue reading None Dare Call It Socialism

The Coming Slavery

by MARIO RIZZO _______________   It is said that when railways were first opened in Spain, peasants standing on the tracks were not [i]nfrequently run over; and that the blame fell on the engine-drivers for not stopping: rural experiences having yielded no conception of the momentum of a large mass moving at a high velocity. … Continue reading The Coming Slavery