One of the most neglected questions in the paternalism debate — largely unasked by both sides — is, who benefits? Harvard’s Ed Glaeser has an answer:
“Advocating soft paternalism is akin to advocating an increased role of the incumbent government as an agent of persuasion.”
-Edward L. Glaeser, “Paternalism and Psychology,” (Regulation vol. 29, no. 2, p. 38, 2006).
Paternalist policies have built-in public choice concerns that all but ensure results very different from their intentions. Something Mayor Bloomberg and his fellow travelers should keep in mind.