Monday, February 25, 2013

Laws Of Human Nature

Why are regulators so interested in protecting people from themselves?
We're all just a bunch of flawed people. If people are irrational, then laws — written by politicians who are up for reelection, enforced by police officers, and interpreted by judges who are possibly biased and definitely busy — might also be irrational. Cass Sunstein makes a similar point above, but I'd go further and say government is often more irrational than individuals: even if regulators are rational, it often serves their interests to regulate in a way that doesn't serve yours — because they're acquiescing to corporate lobbyists, or because the public is unlikely to notice how the regulations eventually led to bad consequences.

Government isn't an all-purpose social-utility machine just waiting to help us make better decisions, if only we'd be willing to give up our stubborn adherence to the principle of individual autonomy. Even if we were to set aside all our cherished notions about how liberty is intrinsically good, it would still make sense to be skeptical of whether regulators know or care about the full consequences of their regulations.
We are capable of learning from our mistakes. Unfortunately, those that write our laws don't always seem to feel that way.

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