Our drinking must be constrained by taxes, they argue, because people underestimate the health costs of alcohol use. Perhaps some people do. But it is a silly argument for taxing consumption, because ignorance cuts both ways. Some people surely overestimate the health costs, and those who have never drunk may underestimate the pleasure. Yet no one ever suggests subsidizing alcohol to counteract such errors. . . .
"Paternalism" is an unfortunate name for the policies that lead to this governmental micro-management of what ought to be private affairs. It suggests that, as in real families, the costs are borne by the parents. But they are not. Our political parents simply arrange for the costs to be paid by some of the children for the benefit others. More importantly, the term directs attention away from the demeaning consequences of these policies. They would be better called infantilism.
Jamie Whyte, "Adults of the world, unite!" – Wall Street Journal