When is the government justified in restricting freedom?

Tim Worstall has written a nice little essay about paternalism for the IEA. In To Ban or Not To Ban?, he looks at everything from chlorinated chicken and climate change to gambling and the green belt.

When is the government justified in restricting freedom? It is not enough that some people might prefer the new arrangements. Tim rightly notes that costs to third parties could justify state coercion and taxation, but he finds the evidence of such costs is often lacking in practice. Much of the time, demands to clamp down on other people’s behaviour are motivated by paternalism or self-interest.

Regular readers may be familiar with these arguments, and many will be familiar with Tim from his popular blog. This report takes a fresh look at the subject from first principles. Hopefully it will appeal to people who do not normally read about economics. You can download it free of charge here.


This article was originally published on the Velvet Glove, Iron Fist blog.

Head of Lifestyle Economics, IEA

Christopher Snowdon is the Head of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA. He is the author of The Art of Suppression, The Spirit Level Delusion and Velvet Glove; Iron Fist. His work focuses on pleasure, prohibition and dodgy statistics. He has authored a number of papers, including "Sock Puppets", "Euro Puppets", "The Proof of the Pudding", "The Crack Cocaine of Gambling" and "Free Market Solutions in Health".

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