Thursday, May 22, 2008

Take airport toilets, [please!]

which apparently have a big problem with men peeing on the floor. A conventional solution might be posters, or an expensive redesign. But just painting a black fly inside the urinal, for men to aim at, has reduced spillage at Schipol airport, Amsterdam, by 80 per cent.

Which paragraph fairly accurately sums up my feelings about Libertarian Paternalism.


Keifus said...

Huh. And here I thought a lot of people didn't save because they have to feed their kids and buy medicine and stuff.

I don't know what to make of the article. We're inundated with subtle, irrational appeals to consume crap already, and it's sort of alarming to have it seep through product marketing to political actual policy. But not really surprising.

Honest discussions about that sort of thing usually center around what is right for a state to enforce or not. I don't think (most) libertarians would disagree with liberals about one's right to piss on the floor.


hipparchia said...

setting aside theory and logical consistency for a moment, what i've noticed...

there are 2 kinds of people in the world, joiners and loners.

there are 2 kinds of joiners in the world, those who collude to exert power over the less powerful and those who band together to protect themselves from the power-hungry.

[yeah, that's an over-simplification]

the article is annoying on a couple of levels, starting with not-very-well-written and going on from there.

one of the problems i have with libertarians is how often they end up forming the first kind of group, the kind that ends up being predatory [though many of them start out with the aim of being predatory]. but slapping rulez on the predators is bad because it's an exercise of state power!

another problem i have with libertarians, and their 'paternalism' especially, is that while i advocate using them in place of punishment in dog training, incentives / inducements / enticements are all still coercion.

it may sound paradoxical [and i'm not up for trying to 'splain it better this late at night] but setting clear boundaries --- don't kill people, don't manipulate commodities markets, don't expose a captive roomful of people to the fumes from your drug addiction, etc --- allows far more freedom than does bribing with an offer they might feel unable to refuse, but would prefer to if they only had enough resources of their own.

Keifus said...

I was thinking about adding some comment how I guess it's better to be asked nicely, but...

I think I see where you're coming from. Sometimes I think that the difference between libertarianism and liberalism (at least any versions I'd care to defend) is the difference between theory and practice.