Speculations on Community vs. the Market [7:50 pm]
This one is bound to get tongues wagging, but there’s an important idea here: On the Contrary: Long Live the Nanny State
Social structures like close extended families that once constrained behavior have weakened even as widespread affluence has democratized overindulgence. A result is that Americans eat too much, save too little and absolutely guzzle planet-warming fossil fuel, all to our collective detriment. Forget about the national debt. What we have here is a ballooning self-control deficit.
[...] It’s tempting to suggest that government shouldn’t even be in the business of influencing noncriminal behavior, except that it already is and always will be. States advertise their lotteries constantly, for example, although they rarely mention the infinitesimal odds of winning. Internet casinos are usually a better deal.
[...] So there is no point in pretending that government doesn’t influence behavior. Some changes in the government’s own behavior, in fact, could have a big economic payoff by saving us just a little from ourselves. Taxing consumption rather than earnings, for example, would probably bolster savings and reduce consumer indebtedness even while dampening inflation and increasing productivity.
The question is, what would an effective nanny state look like? [...]