A just machine to make big decisions
Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision
We'll be clean when their work is done
We'll be eternally free yes and eternally young
What a beautiful world this will be
What a glorious time to be free
Paternalism: Behavior by a person, organization or state, which limits some person or group's liberty or autonomy for their own good. Paternalism can also imply that the behavior is against or regardless of the will of the person [being restricted], or also that the behavior expresses an attitude of superiority.
The core of the enlightenment movement behind the urge to remake America into a better, fairer, more equal society comes from a feeling of superiority of would-be taskmasters that also doubled as tastemakers. These men and women saw themselves as the last best hope for a nation absorbed with individual achievement and wealth creation. For them, a world closer to perfection was for everyone to own a tiny plot of land and be rewarded with kinship and a stress-free life.
A key component of their feelings was of sorrow or disdain for the masses and the notion that we are simply not smart. Even when it comes to the most obvious observations that rank right up there with the red facet pumping out hot water and the blue facet pouring out cold water, the enlightened crowd took on a condescending approach to helping everyone else understand. And so for them, it is logical that fast food makes people fat, guns fire themselves, and lazy people are just misunderstood, while lawbreakers are the real victims.
Moreover, it is with this mentality that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is ready to nudge food stamp recipients to make smarter decisions.
“Intended to change the choice architecture of the food retail environment to make healthier choices more prominent”- USDA
Those fellows with compassion and wisdom have recommendations on how to get people to buy more fruits and vegetables and less junk. Their 80-page report outlines strategies that border on absurd to insulting. At first blush, I am reminded of Woody Allen’s early movie material, but these folks take themselves seriously and apparently think food stamp recipients will take them seriously, too. Why? Because food stamp recipients are too dumb to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy choices.
The good news is that Michelle Obama has made eating “healthy” her mission and while it’s admirable, the new architecture of choice is only a house of cards.