But why, some skeptics ask, should the government side with your prudent long-run self against your hedonistic short-run selves? What’s so great about the long-run self, anyway? As the economist Glen Whitman has observed in a shrewd critique of soft paternalism, the harms that selves impose on one another are reciprocal: “The long-run self can harm the short-run self by adopting self-control devices — such as flushing cigarettes down the toilet, refusing to allow ice cream in the house, checking into a clinic and so on.” It is not good to be profligate, lazy and obese, but neither is to [sic] good to be a miser, a workaholic or an anorexic.Interestingly, the Times author seizes on the same point that the Economist did. I made various other arguments in my paper, but apparently the idea that your short-run self can be harmed by your long-run self is the one that resonates.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Posted by Glen Whitman at 12:57 PM
My Cato Policy Analysis on internalities is quoted in the New York Times: