You Should Know Better
(Or Should You?)

There is a common sentiment that when it comes to health and what to eat, people should simply "know better". But that stance has some serious flaws...

Eric Armstrong

The feeling that "people should know better" is pretty widely shared, but the implications of that statement are
pretty staggering:

However, if every individual had to know enough to protect themselves in every single area of our lives, society just couldn't function:

In every case, the answer would be "It's your fault if you don't know enough." And those are just a few of the implications I see off the top of my head. That was pretty much the world before government. It works for small groups engaged in a primitive life style. But it doesn't scale well.

Government works for the betterment of society, in my view, when it acts to "embody wisdom"--when educated and enlightened views are cast into rules that improve life for us all. That function is especially necessary in today's complex world, where it is simply not feasible for everyone to know everything they would otherwise need to know.

When government acts in that manner, it puts the brakes on capitalism. It enforces boundaries, ensuring that the efforts each person makes on their own behalf is devoted to an effort that benefits society, rather than one that harms it. A balance is required between the selfish interests which drive the economy and the protective impulses that constrain it. Constrain too much, and you have no economy. Constrain too little, and you allow fraud, theft, and other forms of behavior that are ultimately detrimental.

Copyright © 2007 by Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.
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