Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Now for something provocative ...

Don Boudreaux, a libertarian economist at George Mason, publishes a great blog called Cafe Hayek. In arguing for ,limited government, he asks liberals who don't like social conservatives and conservatives who don't like state intervention in the economy, why they support big government in other contexts. He writes the following:
Here’s why I ask the above questions: every time I’m in a supermarket check-out lane and catch the headlines of the reading materials on sale there – soap-opera digests, magazines featuring Oprah and other entertainment celebrities, and the like – I literally get a bit of a queazy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It somewhat sickens me that people care who Jennifer Anniston is dating, what Oprah is eating, or why male hunk du jour just ditched female sex-goddess du jour for some other equally vacuous if va-va-va-voom!-inducing babe. I don’t wish to prevent anyone from reading about or caring deeply about these matters about which I truly couldn’t care less. But it scares me that people who read that nonsense – because they care about that nonsense - have a say in how my life is conducted. I resent the fact that such people, if only through the ballot box, influence how government orders me about. 
The more expansive is the scope of government authority, the more my life is subject to commands issued in part under the influence of people who read Us magazine. 

Is it?

Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin.


jp said...

Thank goodness we have a constitutional republic.

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`"...liberals who don't like social conservatives and conservatives who don't like state intervention in the economy, why they support big government in other contexts."

First, replace liberals and conservatives with people.

Second, people have the ability to look at specific situations without necessarily being beholden to a narrow ideology and decide whether they support "the gumming" intervening in those areas they deem of personal and community importance.

"But it scares me that people who read that nonsense – because they care about that nonsense - have a say in how my life is conducted. I resent the fact that such people, if only through the ballot box, influence how government orders me about."

First, it is clear that the author is anti-capitalist. There is a market for "trashy novels" and "Hollywood gossip". On the other hand, assuming these consumers are behaving irrationally, then why cannot politicians and their supporters use the same marketing tools to exploit, I mean persuade, them, to promote an agenda. They could easily create a tabloid, with the story emphasis being on which public figure or group is undercutting individual liberty. Now that is a multi-billion dollar idea!

Second, unless the author is being satirical, the premise he proposes is elitist. There is an inference that these individuals who are "wrapped up in popular culture" should not even be eligible to vote because it is assumed they lack any basic understanding of our government. I would venture to say there more people out there who have their "guilty pleasures", yet have the intellectual capability to investigate issues and have intelligent conversations.

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