More linky, less thinky

So while I’m not writing anything, here’s Robin Hanson on paternalism:

I’ve always read paternalism as a form of contempt: “we” know what’s better for “them” than “they” do, the poor deluded fools.  Hanson suggests that it’s more instrumental than it is indicative: paternalist laws and regulations don’t just happen to show contempt for their targets, they’re designed to do so. Drinking-age laws aren’t designed to prevent teenagers from drinking (and thus the fact that they don’t work is immaterial); they’re designed as a fuck-you from the voting-age demographic to those younger than they, rubbing their noses in it just in case the kids start getting ideas.  Hanson has other examples:

This paternalism-as-status-marker story fits with free speech being a status marker, and with many regulatory asymmetries, such as being more concerned about teen pregnancy than 35+ pregnancy, teen drivers more than elderly drivers, and drug/alcohol use of the poor more than the rich.

Read the whole thing.

10 Responses to “More linky, less thinky”

  1. May 11, 2010 at 04:15

    I liked your example, and added it to my post.

  2. 2 Carol Hammerstein
    May 11, 2010 at 08:32

    Teenagers need the direction of adults when it comes to pregnancy prevention. It’s not paternalistic to be more concerned about teen pregnancy than the pregnancies of 35 year olds. The children of teen parents are more likely to suffer life challenges, including becoming teen parents themselves and even spending time in jail. Their parents have to watch their children suffering after quickly realizing they had no idea what they were getting in to. Take it from me. I had a child at 18. My son has suffered from my having been too young. I could have used a little “paternalism.”

  3. May 11, 2010 at 08:43

    Turns out our best empirical evidence is that kids of teen moms wouldn’t be any better off if those moms waited to have kids later. For 35+ moms, in contrast, it is clear they would be better if their moms didn’t wait as long.

  4. 5 Carol Hammerstein
    May 11, 2010 at 18:29

    They would be better off. Check out ChildFreeYouth.org and the National Campaign for Teen Pregnancy Prevention.

    • May 11, 2010 at 18:41

      Carol, you’re proving my (and Robin’s) point. Either you sincerely believe that something magical happens at a woman’s twentieth birthday and that no post-teen mother could possibly be unready, or you’re singling out teens (who might be poor parents) exclusive of post-teens (who might also be poor parents).

      Telling teenagers that they’re defective — that they don’t know properly how to use their own gonads, and must defer to the advice of… people like you — is about as dehumanizing as it gets, particularly when you focus on the “teenage” part of the equation rather than the “unprepared mother” part.

      • January 28, 2011 at 05:56

        Not at all. Teens are not defective, they are just not adults. And I am not asking teens to do anything. I am asking adults to recognize the need to protect teens from early pregnancy and early parenting. That’s just the responsible thing for our society to do.

        Sorry for the delayed response. I only just came across your reply.

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