A Technocrats’ Black Market in Greasy Tacos

A few years ago I warned that the fight against obesity was becoming the new global warming, e.g., a way for the international technocracy to grab control of our economies and lives in the name of saving the planet us from the fat.

The technocratic class has been wringing their hands about how much regulation they can get away with. Some think it will require  ”hard paternalism.” What is that, you ask? From, “Limiting Liberty to Prevent Obesity,” by Thaddeus Mason Pope: 

[Soft paternalism are] measures which alter the decision making environment, yet do not wholly eliminate unhealthy choices…[H]ard paternalistic measures ban the unhealthy choices and make them impossible.

Pope quotes another article which despairs that soft paternalism will be sufficiently efficacious to shed fat, but that the people will refuse to accept hard paternalism that could reduce obesity. Pope is more “optimistic,” which seems inverted to me. (If hard paternalism on food would work, that makes me pessimistic about the future of freedom.):

The Rolling Stones may be right that “you can’t always get what you want.” But they are also right that “if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”This will be my overarching theme: we can get the hard paternalism that we need.

Pope lays out a lot of technocratic principles and conditions about when hard paternalism would or would not be justified, including this trip to Fantasyland: 

The fourth necessary condition for justified strong hard paternalism requires that it be a “last resort,” that the only available liberty limiting principle which the regulator can use to protect the subject from significant harm

Folks, let’s get out of the deep gray matter for a moment and get real. How many of you think that bureaucrats only resort to mandates as a last resort?

Here in the real world, we know that much of regulation is ideological. It isn’t that the regulated absolutely need the constraint on liberty, but that “our betters” in the technocracy want to impose it upon us to further their worldview. Think Obamacare. Think EPA. 

Another Pope pipe dream:

The seventh necessary condition for justified hard paternalism requires that the agent interfere with the subject’s liberty no more than is required to achieve the objective.

Right. Like that would ever happen. Bureaucrats are natural hegemons. They wield bludgeons, not scalpels. 

Pope concludes on what he considers to be an upbeat note:

The public health challenges that we face are enormous. Regulators have a broad array of legal tools to address these challenges. But, increasingly, the required regulatory tools are (and must be) hard paternalistic…

I have demonstrated that there are wider opportunities for hard paternalism. My promising conclusion is that regulators can have their cake and eat it too. They must simply ensure that they enact only those hard paternalistic measures that are weak or justified strong.

Actually, continuing the hard paternalistic legal prohibition on marijuana might do more to fight fat–fewer people with munchies–than hard food paternalism. (Talk about creating a black market in greasy tacos!) But that is the subject of another day.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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