“Free will” could be exercised in defining the field of battle, not when and how my enemies would attack. Whenever I heard them ask “Would you like that super-sized?” I knew they were really saying “It’s already too late.
– from This Article by Ta-Nehisi Coates
It’s unfortunate this was sparked by the soda-size restriction, since I think it’s kinda dumb, and I’m interested in the principle rather than that case. I’m of the opinion that all drugs should be legal, so I wouldn’t argue for restrictions on something like soda. But I don’t think “it’s their own choice” makes a good rebuttal because it portrays humans as agents, which is… an exaggeration, at the least. That is the heart of this article. The soda restriction is a very poorly thought out reaction to that human problem. It is, at best, a treatment of one particular and minor symptom. You don’t stop the mafia by making it illegal to say the words “It’d be a shame if something happened to your store.”
When I was originally discussing this with some friends, I was asked –
how do you balance the inability of some people to effectively act as their own agent with allowing drugs to be legal?
Any time a product is sold which is known to be harmful to the user, the seller takes a responsibility to not engage in predatory actions, and to warn the buyers. Predatory action will be prosecuted (and ideally also strongly socially stigmatized), the insanity surrounding the housing/financial crisis of 2008 would have started landing people in jail back in 2004. Certain forms of marketing (colloquially known as “Dark Arts” where I hang out) would be treated the same way, regardless or what the product is.
Where is the line which delineates predatory action? Who will define that line? I think what a lot of us are saying is that government is not there to protect us from our own stupidity. It’s there to protect us from the tragedy of the commons, and possibly rein in some of the excesses of capitalism. I would also like to add that I love the lottery. There are few better non-cumpulsory sources of revenue for the government.
Where is the line which delineates age of majority? Who will define that line? There are some 14-year-olds out there mature enough to sign contracts, consent to sex, and drink alcohol. And there are some 28-year-olds out there who aren’t. Sometimes we have to draw arbitrary lines, because to not draw any lines is even dumber.