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Posner Again on Libertarian Paternalism:

Judge Richard Posner briefly responds to comments about his take on libertarian paternalism here.

Triangle_Man:
Whether or not "cooling off" policies are paternalistic, they seem to be aimed at enhancing the rationality of consumer decisions. It may be disappointing for lenders or sellers to lose revenue because consumers are making more rational decisions, but I hardly see how it is bad for the market as a whole to have more rationality on the consumer side of the equation.
1.22.2007 11:25am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Triangle_Man-

Those principles may hold in the case of "cooling off" periods. But one can see how meaningless, ineffective, or even misleading initiatives designed to increase "consumer information" might be manipulated. (Or even "cooling off" periods themselves - perhaps the cooling period will be used by competing lenders, tipped off by the credit check, to delude the consumer with advertising for products that are even more flawed than what they originally considered.)

For example say I am a member of an ethnic group that tests well on the old arcade "love testers" through some random mutation that increases the ambient electrical current in my hands. Is getting the government to require that all job applicants and prospective dates submit to a "love tester" analysis (for which I manufacture the equipment and train the personnel) going to increase "consumer information"? Not on a meaningful level. But certain parties will make money and receive benefits to the detriment of other parties.

Whether or not you think "libertarian paternalism" has benefits (which I find dubious) it seems to be dangerous because it seems to reward or encourage people to theorize about ways to meddle in the affairs of others. Politicians should be thinking about ways to deliver the services they're supposed to deliver more cheaply and efficiently so that they can cut taxes and government spending so society overall can become more wealthy. They shouldn't be thinking of ways of meddling in the lives of others that they can more easily sell the public on. Its funny that government is a failure at a lot of the things its supposed to do but yet here we are encouraging them to come up with new things that will be even bigger disasters.
1.22.2007 4:41pm