The Rise of Parentalism
In a recent paper published in the journal Public Choice, "Afraid to be Free: Dependency as Desideratum," Nobel Prize–winning economist James Buchanan composes a new taxonomy of socialist threats to liberty. Buchanan argues that the conventional threats to freedom from managerial socialism (central planning) and distributionist socialism (the welfare state) are today joined by paternalistic socialism and "parental socialism," which Buchanan describes as the willingness among many to allow the government to take control of their lives.
The emerging threat to American liberty today, then, is a combination of these latter two forms of socialism—the desire among some in government to interfere in nearly every aspect of our lives, and the lack of concern on the part of many Americans that this is happening. And while conventional critics of capitalism came primarily from the left, the parentalist-paternalist movement isn't as easily marginalized.
No where is this more evident than in my little home town in Idaho. Nanny government has spawned a class of citizens that seemingly never wean themselves, cradle to grave. They pass prohibitive tree cutting ordinances on private property, dog poop ordinances, car idling ordinances, dark sky ordinances. Hell, if you can dream up anything to bitch about at all, light your torches and march on city hall. Next week, they'll pass another 60 million school district levy-thinking perhaps, all this money will turn their kids into geniuses. They love Frankennanny.
Or maybe they are just a bunch of spoiled, whiny ass, and deluded parents willing to spend everyone's money. In Frankennanny we trust. Can't rule that out.
I'd like to introduce this Nobel prize winning economist to the folks in my home town. They'd set him straight. Hell, Buchanan might just take his kids and move there.