'Coercive Paternalism' Is Bad Parenting

Laws designed to force public to choose healthy options is 'Orwellian'
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2008 9:57 AM CDT
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles' director of public health, points to a poster after announcing a proposal to implement mandatory menu labeling for fast food and chain restaurants.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Under the banner of what’s good for you, an insidious new trend is growing. “Coercive paternalism,” Steve Chapman writes in Reason, is the wrong-minded older sibling of the much-in-vogue “libertarian paternalism” responsible for dietary information in chain restaurants. “Libertarian paternalists … limit themselves to promoting informed choices,” Chapman writes. “Coercive paternalists have a simpler approach: telling us what to do.”

Chapman writes of the “perverse consequences” of a San Francisco ban on selling cigarettes in pharmacies. “The most obvious is to deprive one type of retail establishment of revenue and divert the dollars to other businesses. Marginal neighborhoods will become less attractive sites for pharmacies but more appealing to liquor stores, which is a novel approach to urban renewal.”