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The anti-meliorist junk sociology of Cass Sunstein

By Al Schumann on Sunday January 18, 2009 06:14 AM

Sunstein, working for and with right-wing deregulatory think tanks, published a piece called "The Arithmetic of Arsenic", arguing that everyone needs to stop being so emotional about these things. We can't decide whether arsenic should be in our water based on fuzzy-wuzzy arguments about not killing people. No, we need to be hard-headed realists and decide exactly how much a human life is worth and whether filtering arsenic is worth the cost. In short, we have to do cost-benefit analysis.

Open Left diary

If you're a bit sleepy, Sunstein can seem quite reasonable when he's advocating the gentle nudge of a benevolent government. No one wants to be pushed around. Everyone wants good governance. They want to see it pursued with cost effectiveness, a light touch and soothing bromides. Mmm, most people could live without the bromides. In practice the ethic he espouses amounts to selective minimalism and malign neglect, both of which are weighted to shake out beneficially for concentrations of protected, privileged private power. Both of which he supports through narrowly focused jurisprudence. He labels his philosophy "libertarian paternalism". Love and oxymoronic nonsense will find a way. It's all about Benevolence and Pragmatism. Private power won't seek to regulate your snack breaks, within reason, and certainly not at the federal court level, except as needed to defend productivity, workplace harmony and possibly employee insurance costs; you won't thwart liberty through hysterical regulation of toxic dumps.

The diarist notes that it would be easy to dismiss Sunstein as an ingenuous, blinkered ivory tower type -- if he weren't about to take charge of regulatory oversight in the Obama administration. What can I say? He's right.

Comments (3)


Per a suggestion here, the Power Couple tag-team of Profs. Sunstein and Samantha Power can be conveniently shortened to "Powerstein".


mary schapiro nom-ed for sec chair
is another soft mouth retriever type
now making 3 mill per
as head of wall street's
Sheriff schapiro was nothing short
of sargent schultz

mild up date:


"So what's the problem with Mary Schapiro as SEC chairwoman? The problem is that there is nothing in her record to suggest that she is likely to clean house at the agency and launch a sustained assault on Wall Street culture"

Remember when Cassie-baby shamelessly and sophomorically (not so much drool, dude!) fellated Nero-b for his sign-off on the FISA renewal? If that wasn't a job application, nothing was.

"Change" apparently works the usual way...

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