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Paternalism: It’s Good for the Kids

By Matthew Yglesias

"Paternalism: It’s Good for the Kids"

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If you haven’t read Michael Lewis’ “Ballad of Big Mike” in The New York Times Magazine you really ought to stop reading this blog and go read the article. It’s a longie but a goodie that, like the best feature writing out there, leaves one pregnant with somewhat inchoat thoughts on the matter. I will say that I think concerns voiced by Ezra Klein and Jason Kottke about how the various adults depicted treat Mike are kind of off-base. In essence, they’re concerned that Mike’s autonomy isn’t being respected. And, it’s true, it isn’t. And I also think the anti-paternalist biases of contemporary liberals exist for some pretty good reasons.

Then again, it’s called “paternalism” for a reason — this is how you’re supposed to treat children. Mike’s a kid — 16 years old — at the start of the saga, and with a level of mental development more like you would expect from someone quite a bit younger. There’s a lot more to be said about this article, and I’ll have to say it later if ever, but this particular thing isn’t really what should trouble us.

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