regulation

Infantilization by Regulation

With the rise of libertarian paternalism has come greater acceptance of the view that citizens often fail to act in their best interests and that it is the government ’s job to put a stop to that. In this mindset, the market is a predator rather than a check on stupid mistakes. If the behavioral assumptions behind libertarian paternalism gain widespread acceptance among policy makers, then we should prepare for an onslaught of nudges and shoves. And every time a nudge is adopted, an opportunity for learning and individual development is lost. Perhaps the gains from intervention will be sufficient to justify the opportunity cost, but those costs should be included in the cost-benefit analysis. Too often only the predicted benefits are considered, while the attendant long-term costs go unseen.

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