by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
I liked Mayor Bloomberg more after reading James Bennet’s interview, but I still find him annoying. “People aren’t good at describing what is in their own interest,” Hizzoner says. Implication: it’s the government’s job to figure it out for them—and induce them to behave correctly.
But should “right behavior” be the aim of government? Or should the aim be, as Aristotle argued, to govern so as to produce a wise citizenry—citizens who are good at identifying their own real interest. Since “the science is not perfect,” why not let Jews figure out for themselves whether the custom of metzitzah b’peh is harmful or not? Maybe parents should decide for themselves how much sweet soda their kids should consume.
Bloomberg seems to think of the citizens of New York as his subjects, over whom he reigns as a kindly philosopher king, guiding them on the right path—a path they are incapable of figuring out for themselves. Let him think more about two things: why people are so incapable, if indeed they are; and whether his own judgment might be fallible.