Here is an excellent example of good thinking wasted on a bad premise. This policy statement from the usually on-target Cato Institute makes a fine moral argument against “The Nanny State.” However, it begins with the statement “Policymakers should…”, when it’s wrong to think that there is legally any such thing as a “policymaker” as we now conceive that term, and/or that legally, there can be any nannying anywhere from the realm of politics.
All civilized people, including politicians, should not do what they are not legally allowed to do. And according the constitutions (which I understand most politicians have not read), politicians are not allowed to do very much.
Citizens, on the other hand, and according to the same federal and state constitutions, are authorized (by authority of the constitutions that grant politicians their station) to do practically anything they choose as long as they don’t impinge upon others’ rights and powers.
Citizens have many and undefined rights and powers, while politicians have few and tightly defined rights and powers. Such an arrangement works better than anything else ever tried. And it’s the law.
Politicians have no legal authority at all in what we buy, eat, smoke or drive. They have no authority at all in what we say, who we hire, who we fire, who we meet or who we love. They have no authority at all over our property unless they buy it at a fair price (there can, legally, be none of today’s popular “asset forfeiture”).
Powers not specifically granted are specifically denied (see amendment 10 of the USA Constitution and Article 1 Section 25 of the Indiana Constitution). And all other rights and powers are reserved to the states and the people (ultimately, the people).
The fact that politicians act like they have other legal powers is due to the fact that we, as a nation, act like fools in the voting booth.
So it’s wrong to think that “policymakers should” be moral about the way they regulate our eating, smoking, shooting, speech, hiring/firing, etc. They have no authority to do those things at all.
It’s not just that they’re doing it badly, or that they don’t have the proper frame of mind. They have no legal authority.
In other words, you have just as much right to regulate politicians’ consumption as they do to regulate yours. In fact, you have much more power than they do. You can fire them.
Doggone it, you should.