Paternalism

Mgt 3800 is going to be a very long class.  Not because the prof sucks or the material is boring, but because there’s this annoying Swedish girl in my class (the attention whore from the earlier post) who just loves to hear herself talk.  Her hand is always up, and more often than not, what she says is completely off topic–to the point that the prof has to sit in silence for a minute to figure out just how to respond.

Yesterday we talked about business ethics, and if it was the job of, say, Dunkin Donuts to tell an obese customer that they couldn’t order a dozen donuts, and if the government should make laws to that effect.  All of us were like, um, no, the consumer is not an idiot.  They know what they’re doing isn’t good for them, but since it’s not directly hurting anyone else, the government has no right to do anything.  We deserve choice.  All of us, that is, except her.  She thought that the government “knows best” and should “protect us from ourselves.”  Yeah…..

One major problem with this is that while the government can do very good things, it also routinely does very stupid things.  It’s made up of people just like you and me.  They’re not infallible, they’re not omniscient, and I would bet you my life savings that I’m more intelligent than many of the people sitting in Congress.  I have a brain, I have free will, I would like to exercise them both.  Don’t punish the rest of us because some people have no will power and would rather sue McDonalds than go to the gym and make a choice to eat healthier.

Swedish chick then started comparing the prospective food ban to smoking regulations, claiming they’re the same.  They’re not.  If you smoke, you directly hurt others via second hand smoke.  If you eat massive amounts of donuts, the only body you’re hurting is your own.  Yes, we could go into the “people would be hurt if something happened to me” argument, but the responsibility of making sure that nothing does falls on you, not the business.

What really irked me was that most of her arguments started with “in my country…” “where I’m from….” etc, but we’re not in your country!  We are in the United States of America, population 305+ million, not in Sweden, population 9 million!  In case you’re no math whiz, that means we have 33.88889 times more people than your country does, so the laws that work for you, are likely not going to work for us.  Common sense can tell you that.  But then, it seems like she’s rather lacking in that aspect of her life.

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