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Nanny Statist of Mind

Nanny Statist of Mind

Bowdoin Professor Sarah Conly’s “Three Cheers for the Nanny State,” published in the Sunday New York Times, has done a great service to those of us who think Mayor Bloomberg is alone in his attempts to gloss over limited powers and the role of government, most recently with his “ban on Big Gulp.”

If Conly’s “Three Cheers for the Nanny State” is the best retort to New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling’s take down of the Bloomberg ban, which the Justice referred to as “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences” and an “administrative leviathan” that would “eviscerate” separation of powers, then it is time to rejoice and give three cheers for Conly’s reveal of the left’s mental state.

Behold the wisdom of the nanny statist:

After all, people can still get as much soda as they want. This isn’t Prohibition. It’s just that getting it would take slightly more effort. So, why is this such a big deal?

Obviously, it’s not about soda. It’s because such a ban suggests that sometimes we need to be stopped from doing foolish stuff, and this has become, in contemporary American politics, highly controversial, no matter how trivial the particular issue. (Large cups of soda as symbols of human dignity? Really?)

So, Conly believes that this has nothing to do with placing limits on government power, but out inability to grasp that we need to be stopped from doing “foolish stuff.” She continues:

A lot of times we have a good idea of where we want to go, but a really terrible idea of how to get there. It’s well established by now that we often don’t think very clearly when it comes to choosing the best means to attain our ends. We make errors….

We can’t figure it out ourselves, says Conly. Moreover, it’s really all about “dignity”:

That’s what the government is supposed to do, help us get where we want to go. It’s not always worth it to intervene, but sometimes, where the costs are small and the benefit is large, it is. That’s why we have prescriptions for medicine. And that’s why, as irritating as it may initially feel, the soda regulation is a good idea. It’s hard to give up the idea of ourselves as completely rational. We feel as if we lose some dignity. But that’s the way it is, and there’s no dignity in clinging to an illusion.

Conly, educated at the bastions of high thinking Princeton (BA), Cornell (MA), and Cornell (MA), may be as fine an advertisement against the left’s thinking (as well as an Ivy League education) as any messaging campaign the RNC would hope to undertake. For any of you whose children have the good fortune to be attending Bowdoin this Spring, Conly is offering courses both in “Love” and “Moral Problems.” Her bio:

I was on leave during the academic year 2010-2011, spending the fall at the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, the spring in Oaxaca, Mexico.  During that time I wrote a book, Against Autonomy:  Justifying Coercive Paternalism, which will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2012.  Against Autonomy is a defense of paternalistic laws; that is, laws that make you do things, or prevent you from doing things, for your own good.  I argue that autonomy, or the freedom to act in accordance with your own decisions, is overrated—that the common high evaluation of the importance of autonomy is based on a belief that we are much more rational than we actually are.  We now have lots of evidence from psychology and behavioral economics that we are often very bad at choosing effective means to our ends.  In such cases, we need the help of others—and in particular, of government regulation—to keep us from going wrong.

What is “undignified” is this assistant professor’s utter inability to grasp the role of government, that that role could possibly go wrong, or that principle (or law, indeed) has a place in assessing whether actions ought to be embraced.

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Comments

“…we are often very bad at choosing effective means to our ends.” You mean like electing Elizabeth Warren?

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to Sally Paradise. | March 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Exactly!

    Perhaps requiring a voter I.D. would cull out the .0001% of people too stupid to stand in line at the DMV and prevent them from voting for the Fondue Dish for POTUS.

Well, at least she’s honest. Remind me once again, why are the American Liberals called “liberals”?
For the record, This lady’s book can be obtained for mere $95 on amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Against-Autonomy-Justifying-Coercive-Paternalism/dp/1107024846/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364240790&sr=8-1&keywords=against+autonomy

“Autonomy is overrated?” WOW. There was a figure in this highly popular book that felt autonomy was overrated too. His name means ‘Light bearer’ or ‘morning star”, something like that. I think he said something along the lines of ‘I’ll make them obey and the glory will be mine’. I’m paraphrasing of course. But then again, what do I know? Me with my brain and all this independent thinking…pssshht…
Praise be to God for our freedoms and let the glory be forever His in the name of Jesus Christ Amen!

nordic_prince | March 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm

“In such cases, we need the help of others—and in particular, of government regulation—to keep us from going wrong.”

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Who, exactly, is going to keep the government from going wrong? These ignorant, stupid fools no doubt believe that the government (with them in charge, natch – otherwise, all bets are off) is simply incapable of going wrong.

Just like Cuba, and North Korea, and the Soviet Union, and…

CarsInDepth.com | March 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm

“After all, people can still get as much soda as they want. This isn’t Prohibition. It’s just that getting it would take slightly more effort. So, why is this such a big deal?”

Somehow I’m pretty sure that Prof. Conly would not be happy if her own logic was applied to abortion:

After all, what’s the big deal if Roe v Wade was overturned and some states outlawed abortion on demand? Women could still get an an abortion if they want. They’d just have to go to another state. This isn’t Prohibition. It’s just that getting an abortion would take slightly more effort. So, why is this such a big deal?

    I was thinking more of an “Abortion Oversight Committee”. A group of government agents that must consider and approve or disapprove of each act of abortion. If it’s likely that the fetus will be born healthy and carry genes that society as a whole desires then no abortion. If it appears that the mother is in distress and making an “irrational” decision to terminate a life, then no abortion.

    I can’t imagine this professor would object.

      TrooperJohnSmith in reply to BuckIV. | March 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Here in Texas, we have a government-sponsored program for ex post facto abortions for people who commit capital murder. For some weird reason, Leftists just hate the program. Not only is the killer aborted “on demand” by a third party (which I’m told is in the Constitution), but he or she is given some good drugs, too.

      Lefties just puzzle me, I tell you… just puzzle me. 😆

      bawatkins in reply to BuckIV. | March 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      You only have to speculate about what would have happened it abortion had been legalized 30 years earlier – would Obama have been born, Steve Jobs, Eric Clapton? The list is long and probably very shocking for a lot of people. When you consider the millions of abortions in the US alone, the potential consequences are huge.

        Henry Hawkins in reply to bawatkins. | March 25, 2013 at 10:55 pm

        I might buy this argument if the list didn’t also include Michael Moore, Bill Maher, Piers Morgan, Harry Reid, Adolph Hitler, Pelosi, Josef Stalin. But I repeat myself.

I’d be curious how she’d react to a law making anonymous sex a felony.

Economic regulations are generally justified in terms of ‘market failure’, but the truth is that the market does not fail. It just doesn’t always produce the result that the bed-wetting types in government would have preferred.

Same reasoning is going on here. People are rational. Here the bed-wetters are denying that rationality (your rationality!) in order to justify unpopular regulation. In both cases it is dishonest and factually incorrect.

What is it that makes Lefty’s assume that some anonymous government bureaucrat, who does not give a crap about her or her families welfare, can make better decisions for her than she can?

Althouse links to a review of Conly’s book (the one mentioned by edgeofthesandbox, not the one in preparation about population control (for details, click through the NYT to Conly’s Bowdoin site)).

Conly’s op-ed neglected to mention that she also favors banning smoking. She may well favor banning pregnancy. I suspect she doesn’t favor banning abortions; in fact I wonder about the contrary.

The point of the above is that Conly’s tone of sweet reason is phony.

For “people” who scream for someone to tell them what to do every second of their lives why is it I never saw any of these goofs at either San Diego or Parris Island?

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to jdkchem. | March 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    They never made it off the bus. If they did by accident, they couldn’t figure out how to work out the “place your feet here” thing. If they somehow stumbled through that, they never made it out of the “motivational platoon”. If they had’ve, they’d have never gotten past that “blanket party”.

    Keeping the sh!t out of the Corps was why the Corps has always made it out of the sh!t!

    Oooooo-rah!

    Crawford in reply to jdkchem. | March 25, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    “For “people” who scream for someone to tell them what to do every second of their lives why is it I never saw any of these goofs at either San Diego or Parris Island?”

    Their goal is not to be told how to live, but rather to tell others how to live.

How are people who are so addle-minded, they can’t even properly regulate their own soda intake, competent enough to elect rulers to make these decisions for them?

[…] This is the mind of the typical leftist: There is no such thing as personal responsibility – because you’re too stupid to take care of yourself and therefore Uncle Sam has to step in to “help” you control your diet, and anything else they decide is beyond your scope of being able to manage.  Anne Sorock at Legal Insurrection adds: […]

Henry Hawkins | March 25, 2013 at 8:40 pm

To this edjamacated idiot I would say just two things:

1. Speak clearly. Don’t use “autonomy” when what you mean is “freedom”. (Reread her words, substituting freedom for autonomy.

2. Government can make decisions for me that I cannot be trusted with? My personal budget is balanced and I have no deficits. Call me when the US government can say the same.

The professor must be very young and intoxicated by the vapors of leftism. I hope that she comes back to her book in about 20-30 years and vomits as she reads her adolescent silliness.

“I argue that autonomy, or the freedom to act in accordance with your own decisions, is overrated—that the common high evaluation of the importance of autonomy is based on a belief that we are much more rational than we actually are

“A lot of times we have a good idea of where we want to go, but a really terrible idea of how to get there. It’s well established by now that we often don’t think very clearly when it comes to choosing the best means to attain our ends. We make errors….

“That’s what the government is supposed to do, help us get where we want to go.”

Who is this “we” she keeps talking about. She would have been – could be – a wonderful slave owner.

” It’s hard to give up the idea of ourselves as completely rational.”

Actually, for those who think like Sarah Conly, it’s apparently very easy to give up rationality.

You may be able to understand her mindset a little better with a look at the first draft of the editorial (shameless self-plug): http://digdeeper1.blogspot.com/2013/03/early-draft-of-three-cheers-for-nanny.html

Maureen Beach | March 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Obesity is a serious issue that is influenced by a number of factors (such as age, ethnicity, family history, stress, physical inactivity, etc). To assign blame to one single source of calories is not only incorrect, it’s counterproductive. If we want to get serious about obesity, it starts with education – not laws and regulation. What you eat, drink and feed your family is your choice and does not need government control oversight or influence.

[…] to mention causing the New York Times to run op-eds with titles such as “Three Cheers for the Nanny State,” a reminder of the growing need for what Ricochet’s Troy Senik calls “a leave me alone […]

What sort of person needs a nanny? That’s right: a child. It’s good to know what the lefty brain trust really thinks of us average citizens.

But there is a super hero out there who is prepared to do battle against the smothering embrace of the nanny state:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/14313195/fabulous-friends-of-freedom-episode-one

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