Magazine
Latest Issue

The nannyish state

Even well-informed people make choices against their own interests. Should the government help them help themselves?

By Jim Holt   March 2007

When the government tells you that you can’t smoke marijuana or that you must wear a helmet when you ride your motorcycle, even if you happen to like the feeling of the wind in your hair, it is being paternalistic. It is treating you the way a parent treats a child, restricting your liberty for what it deems to be your own good. Paternalistic laws tend to be unpopular. We stick to the principle that, children and the mentally ill apart, an individual is a better judge of what’s good for him than the state is and that people should…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect