Free to Choose? Hardly!

8 Jul

Krugman hits on one of the most dangerous problems of neo-conservatism in his look at Obesity:

And even if children weren't a big part of the problem, only a blind ideologue or an economist could argue with a straight face that Americans were rationally deciding to become obese. In fact, even many economists know better: the most widely cited recent economic analysis of obesity, a 2003 paper by David Cutler, Edward Glaeser and Jesse Shapiro of Harvard University, declares that "at least some food consumption is almost certainly not rational." It goes on to present evidence that even adults have clear problems with self-control.

Unfortunately, neocons always assume humans are rational creatures who consciously maximize their utility. If you are fat, it is because you have chosen to be fat. If you're gay, must be because the market made you a homosexual. Perhaps you just couldn't compete with the heteros. This blind obedience to rationality is dangerous, because it provides a rationalization for anything. Why is that a problem? Remember the definition of rationalize — an "attempt to explain or justify (one's own or another's behavior or attitude) with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate." It's easy to pass the buck when everyone but you is responsible for the consequences of your actions.

Link: Free to Choose Obesity

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