I’m working my way up to a Christmas books post in which I intend to include some discussion of which old C.S. Lewis book you ought to have on your Christmas book buying and/or reading list, but for now I want to derive a short thought experiment from this frequently cited Lewis passage from his essay “The Humanitarian Theory of Capital Punishment” (found in the indispensable collection God in the Dock):
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.
So . . . would you rather be ruled by Montgomery Burns of The Simpsons, or Cass Sunstein of Nudge fame? (I know, could have said Mayor Bloomberg, except he’s both a robber baron and a therapeutic paternalist—the worst of both worlds.) Don’t forget that Sunstein was effectively Obama’s “czar” czar as head of regulatory analysis at the Office of Management and Budget.
I know who’d I’d pick. Now, is it release the hounds! Or, release the regulators!