Blog author: mvandermaas
by on Friday, March 7, 2008

Surely these are the words of a disciple of Hayek or Friedman, right?

Under the guise of protecting us from ourselves, the right and the left are becoming ever more aggressive in regulating behavior…

…The real question for policy makers is how to protect those worthy borrowers who are struggling, without throwing out a system that works fine for the majority of its users (all of whom have freely chosen to use it). If the tub is more baby than bathwater, we should think twice about dumping everything out…

…Anguished at the fact that payday lending isn’t perfect, some people would outlaw the service entirely, or cap fees at such low levels that no lender will provide the service. Anyone who’s familiar with the law of unintended consequences should be able to guess what happens next…

… I’ve come to realize that protecting freedom of choice in our everyday lives is essential to maintaining a healthy civil society.

Why do we think we are helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don’t take away cars because we don’t like some people speeding. We allow state lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money. Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don’t operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in life.

The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.

Give up? How about George McGovern?

Ed Morrisey, writing at Hot Air, notes:

I find it fascinating that McGovern has transformed himself from a statist to a free-enterpriser simply because he left office. That isn’t a coincidence, and it explains why politicians tend to “grow in office” towards state-based solutions. After McGovern had to stop justifying his existence as a legislator, he discovered that legislators don’t need to intervene in the markets anywhere near as much as he presumed while in office.

  • Dan

    Making people responsible for their own financial decisions? What has America come to?

    Or, more shockingly; a politician abandoning their views once they are no longer politically expedient?

    What we need is someone who has the courage to advocate those before, during, and after they hold office.

  • http://www.cdobs.com John Powers

    I met George McGovern at a Council of Foreign Relations meeting one time about 5 years ago. He spoke definitively about his strong Methodist faith, and in his experience that the markets are the best way to provide food for the hungry.

    I was duly impressed that he was able to speak to a generally favorable audience and make them hostile by explaining what would otherwise seem as common sense, and thankful that Sen. McGovern had the courage to learn from his vast experiences rather than tow the party line.

    JBP