Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cass Sunstein's The Republic of Choosing | Boston Review

Cass Sunstein is a brilliant thinker,and prolific writer of impressive range.  But that doesn't mean he makes sense all the time.  His new book unfortunately fails.  For liberals (like him)  the `Chicago Boys' free-market cost-benefit utilitarianism is intellectual Kool Aid.  William Simon explains in his review of the new book by the former Obama Administration "regulation czar" The Republic of Choosing | Boston Review:
Sunstein’s strategy [of accommodation of libertarians] misconceives where liberals should be looking for allies and what they need to do to win them. They should be looking in the center, not on the fringe, and the key to winning centrist support for liberal economic programs is to demonstrate their capacity to deal effectively with public problems, not to increase their accommodation of individual choice. Most Americans are not strong libertarians in economic matters. They do not see the capacity to choose among health insurance plans or to buy tax-free cigarettes as matters of liberty in any sense akin to rights of free speech, due process, political participation, or (for some) gun possession. They see choice in the economic domain largely in utilitarian terms. If regimes that allow choice leave most people better off, they are good. But choice should be readily sacrificed when doing so leads to more efficient provision of services.

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