Monday, March 13, 2017

We're seeing it now

In a nation of Econs [people who only are rational], government should keep out of the way, allowing the Econs to act as they choose, so long as they do not harm others. If a motorcycle rider chooses to ride without a helmet, a libertarian will support his right to do so. Citizens know what they are doing, even when they choose not to save for their old age, or when they expose themselves to addictive substances. There is a hard edge to this position: elderly people who did not save enough for retirement get little more sympathy than someone who complains about the bill after consuming a large meal at a restaurant. Much is therefore at stake in the debate between the Chicago school and the behavioral economists, who reject the extreme form of the rational-agent model. Freedom is not a contested value; all the participants in the debate are in favor of it. But life is more complex for behavioral economists than for true believers in human rationality. No behavioral economist favors a state that will force its citizens to eat a balanced diet and to watch only television programs that are good for the soul. For behavioral economists, however, freedom has a cost, which is borne by individuals who make bad choices, and by a society that feels obligated to help them. The decision of whether or not to protect individuals against their mistakes therefore presents a dilemma for behavioral economists. The economists of the Chicago school do not face that problem, because rational agents do not make mistakes. For adherents of this school, freedom is free of charge.— Thinking, Fast and Slow, page 412

<idle musing>
And we're seeing the results of this mindset now. Problem is that it's about as far from the Sermon on the Mount as you can get, to say nothing of the moral code in the Old Testament. It's individualism allowed to run rampant at the cost of society. Nietzsche's superman will win and the rest of us will be toast.

If that's the world you want, you are in serious danger of getting it. Just remember, you might not be the superman you think you are. what then? To whom will you turn?
</idle musing>

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