Some people might actually benefit from the nanny state, but who decides what is in people’s interests and whether individuals can be coerced will forever separate libertarians from paternalists.
Paternalism, or (as it is now called, in a strange shift of gender and status) “the nanny state”, has always had its defenders amongst the elite. After all, it is the elite who define what is good; what is virtuous. It is little surprise that they would seek to defend their mores, even to the point of crushing the individual freedoms of others.
Over time, this has taken many forms. Most Greek city-states confined women to the household and reserved the public space for males; for three centuries, any sign of deviating from religious orthodoxy in the Kingdom of Spain was investigated by the Inquisition; sodomy is illegal in around 70 countries.
These were not mere acts of cruelty; on the contrary, they are promoted for the supposed good of both society and those directly affected. The Greeks wanted to preserve women’s honour; the inquisition sought to save heretics from eternal damnation; those who ban homosexuality consider it to be a moral corruption and also harmful to the participants. [Continue reading]