Ban Paternalist Government

What is it about paternalists that prevents them from minding their own business? They are obsessed with minding everyone else’s business and, even worse, using the power of government to force people to live their lives the way paternalists want them to live them.

Look at the war on drugs. For our entire lives, paternalists have used the force of government, at the both the federal and state level, to punish people for putting substances in their mouths that haven’t been approved by our federal and state masters. 

But what business is it of some politician or bureaucrat what I put into my mouth? Why should they have the authority to punish me for putting something in my mouth that I wish to ingest?

The paternalist says: “Jacob, that substance that you’re putting into your mouth is potentially harmful to you. We have no choice but to threaten you with jail if you persist in doing so.”

How does a person acquire a mind like that? My best hunch is public (I.e., government) schooling. 

The latest example of this paternalist phenomenon is the federal government’s plan to ban menthol cigarettes. Federal dictocrats say that a large percentage of black Americans smoke menthols and, therefore, they want to protect them from the evils of smoking, 

Isn’t that nice? But we know what’s coming, don’t we? Criminal prosecutions of people who don’t comply with the ban. Isn’t that what came with banning marijuana and other illicit drugs? So, won’t that be beautiful — giving bigoted cops another fantastic opportunity to harass and destroy blacks in the name of helping them. 

Why not just ban all cigarettes? Well, believe it or not, someone is already proposing that. James K. Glassman, a former federal bureaucrat, has come forward in USA Today with an op-ed calling for a ban on all cigarettes.

Hey, at least Glassman is consistent. Give him credit for that. He writes: “If a smoking prohibition is good for Black people, who comprise only about 1 in 7 U.S. cigarette smokers, why isn’t it good for whites and other Americans as well?”

But hey, why stop with cigarettes? Why not ban alcohol and beer too? Booze is harmful, isn’t it? Don’t lots of people die from alcoholism? Don’t lots of people suffer from cirrhosis of the liver? Isn’t alcohol behind a lot of family abuse and other acts of violence? And don’t forget all those DUIs.

Just think: We could have the feds institute a nation-wide ban on both tobacco and alcohol. America would immediately become a healthy, peaceful, and harmonious society.


Well, not exactly. Just Google Prohibition and you’ll see what I mean. 

This is what the paternalists just don’t get. When you make a peaceful activity illegal, you get a black market that involve massive violence. Not just when then banned booze but also when they banned drugs. Where do the paternalists think all those drug cartels and booze gangs came from?

Do the do-gooders ever take personal responsibility for the deaths and suffering their paternalistic bans cause? Of course not. They exclaim, “Please judge us by our good intentions, not by the actual results of our paternalistic programs.”

I wonder how long the American people will put up with this paternalistic nonsense. When will people rise up and say, “Butt out of my life”? Even better, when will they rise up and demand a ban on paternalistic government?

This post was written by: Jacob G. Hornberger

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at and from Full Context. Send him email.

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