FFF: The Perils and Pitfalls of Political Paternalism

The Perils and Pitfalls of Political Paternalism was written by Professor Richard Ebeling at the Future of Freedom Foundation about the dangers and costs of nanny statism.

Across the spectrum of differing political views, whether “progressive,” “nationalist,” “populist,” or “conservative,” there is a common presumption in all of their policy positions and programs. That common dominator is the premise that government is to be the guiding hand in directing and remaking society in some chosen form, to which and within which all in that society are to be confined and made to conform.

The “progressives” herald a new dawn of democratic egalitarianism based on the identity politics of race, gender, and “social class.” The nationalists hark back to a restoration of national identity in which the state defines and determines a nation’s historic qualities and characteristics, for the protection and preservation of which government regulations and restrictions are to be employed.

“Populists” demand a redistribution of governmental power and favoritism more into the hands of those who they say have been taken advantage of in the existing “establishment” system of things. And American conservatives, who once declared at least a rhetorical allegiance to the country’s founding limited government principles, seem to want nothing more than retaining or regaining political power, and are willing to be as regulatory and redistributive in their practical policy decisions as the progressives they rail against.

Lost in this ideological and political policy warfare among them for the governmental reins of plunder and privilege is the idea and ideal of classical, or limited government, liberalism, with its defense of individual liberty, free market economics, civil liberties under an impartial rule of law, and an ethics of non-interventionism at home and abroad.

In the face of these competing, yet philosophically complementary, demands for retention and expansion of “Big Brother” over even more of our lives in a growing number of directions, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of the premises behind and the realities of the political paternalism that they jointly represent.

First and foremost, the guiding idea behind political paternalism is that the individual cannot be trusted to be a free and responsible human being. Those who wish to socially engineer our lives consider us too ignorant, too irresponsible, and too narrow in our own personal planning horizons to intelligently and reasonably take care of our own health care, our own retirement, our own family’s education, or our own spending and consumption choices…

All of these factors, and others that could be listed, show the perils of political paternalism and power-lusting. The interventionist-welfare state has been and will continue to lead us down a dangerous new “road to serfdom” in which our lives are more and more controlled, managed, and manipulated by those in political power who claim the right to dictate how we are to live and work.

It encapsulates an evil immorality in which political force continues to claim the authority to deny us our individual rights to life, liberty, and honestly acquired property. The interventionist-welfare state has been creating a new feudalism with political and special interest elites who serve as the “lords” who rule over and ruin the rest of us, the modern serfs who are expected to toil for their benefit under strangling regulations, burdensome taxes, and intrusive social controls in the name of political correctness and identity politics now and in the future.

All of us who prefer to be free men in a free society with a free market need to do all in our intellectual power to stop and reverse this reactionary counterrevolution against the ideal of human liberty. Otherwise, our civilization may be heading for a terrible collapse that will leave nothing but tyranny and poverty for too many for generations to come.

Click here to read the entire article at FFF.org.