the notion that people can't be trusted to make the right decisions for themselves is an authoritarian one. the opposite of this is a libertarian (or even anarchist, if you will) one. i'm of the latter.
i'm also a believer in primary prevention where bad choices are concerned, and treatment and rehab when that fails. in a soft policy, money no longer directed at punitive measures can be spent on both programs. that's the kind of society i'd like to see.
I am mostly in favor of libertarian ideals when it comes to the rights of individuals.
Sadly, most self-proclaimed "libertarians" today seem to be of the mind that this should include granting corporations and their lobby organizations the same rights. That we should not interfere in or regulate the "free market" in any way. This is fallacious, because often those corporations have vested interests in disrespecting the rights of the individuals, and the individuals' rights should always trump the rights of corporations or other business entities.
i tend to argue from a moderate anarchist viewpoint, but my preference is for anarcho-leftist ideals. i don't trust any sufficiently large bureaucracy, be it government or corporate. bureaucracies are notorious for shitting on individual rights and accumulating power in places untouchable by the people.
that said, i can at least appreciate right-libertarian arguments regarding the free market and keeping government from being able to select the winners (via kickbacks, etc.). corruption runs both ways in that regard, and if we must have a capitalist society, we should keep government and business from being involved with / interfering with one another.
I agree that there's corruption and it should be fought against. But many of the internet-libertarians seem to see government regulation as negative, no matter what the regulation does - they just bundle in all regulation as being inherently oppressive. Whereas I think that's shortsighted, because I don't think regulation itself is bad or good, it can be used for either. And regulation of markets is still necessary to ensure fair competition, and competition is required for free markets to even function. Monopolies (and oligopolies) are harmful for both consumers and economy, and without some intervention there's no way to stop them being formed.
Ideally, the government should watch over corporations and hold them accountable, whereas the people should watch over the government and hold it accountable. If there are abuses in corporations, it's governments job to deal with them. If there are abuses in government, it's the citizens' duty to act and demand changes in government.
yeah, the "all regulations are evil" thing is a bit irritating, but there are so many useless regulations out there that i can understand why a great deal of pruning is in order.
"watchdogs" are a key concept, i think. i long for a day when the people are more informed and involved in the process. they need to wake up to their own oppression, first, and that is not an easy thing to do...
Certainly there's a lot of superficial bureaucracy. I suspect a lot of it exists to create jobs for bureaucrats...
As for watchdogs, the situation is improving, I think, in some ways at least. Internet is a good thing, it's much easier to get people organized to fight causes than it was 20 years ago. I think that's one of the main reasons why some people/governments want so badly to suppress it.
Sir, isn't the idea that one causes more or less harm than the other a matter of opinion? After all, people don't always agree as to what things are harmful, or how harmful they are. So I don't think it's quite as clear of a litmus test as you think it is.
Harm can be quantified, surveyed, measured and arranged into neat little piecharts.
People don't agree about a lot of things. Some [who?] might argue that the world is flat, but that doesn't mean it's a reasonable position, when we have plenty of evidence of the world's ellipsoidness.
"Harm can be quantified, surveyed, measured and arranged into neat little piecharts. "
Please tell me precisely how much harm, as an integer, that eating a piece of cheese does. It isn't that simple.
"People don't agree about a lot of things. Some [who?] might argue that the world is flat, but that doesn't mean it's a reasonable position, when we have plenty of evidence of the world's ellipsoidness."
Ever studied solipism? Reasonable is a point of view, a perspective, an opinion. It's not as simple as 'it has evidence' or 'no it doesn't' in ethical theory. Philosophy doesn't have the black and white truth that science portrays.
Well, that depends. What type of cheese? Casu marzu is pretty damn iffy if you ask me.
Anyway, cheese is actually a good example. It's addictive (contains high levels of casomorphins), has health concerns (contains fat, raises cholesterol) and is not a necessity for humans. So why is cheese still legal?
Because we can evaluate the harm that criminalization of cheese would cause, and compare it to the current harms of legal cheese, and we can make a decision that it would be more harmful for society as a whole to outlaw cheese. Cheese is so popular, that outlawing it would produce a huge outrage, it would drive cheese manufacture and sale to the black market, and this would eliminate all quality control and hurt the economy. These are quantifiable effects. They can be measured.
But cheese doesn't have the demonized stigma that prostitution or drugs have, so it's easier for people to think about cheese rationally.