Who Benefits from Paternalism?

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.

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