Saturday, December 16, 2006

The argument of powerful corporations and governments around the world, against government regulation of their products, is that people should be free to choose what they want to buy or who they want to represent them. However, it is clear from a number of incidents throughout history, long ago and more recently, that people will make (contrary to the premise of neoclassical economics) irrational and self-abusive decisions when presented with convincing arguments to do so. For a sociopolitical/sociopathic example, recall that the National Socialist German Workers Party was elected by popular vote in 1920's Germany and their genocidal policies largely supported or denied by the populace.

In the United States, there has also been a long history of support and denial of inhumane and irrational policies and behavior. It cannot be ignored that the institution of slavery in this country was widely supported and that we continue to laud the "founding fathers" who were direct participants in this system. That people continue to abuse each other and themselves then by smoking, drinking, and otherwise ingesting poisons is not surprising. It is simply a continuation of a history of denial, apathy, and indifference toward others in this country. I very much agree that Scandinavia generally speaking and certainly Sweden in particular has a very different cultural understanding of the importance of health for everyone. Rather than assuming for example that people ought to be able to make completely rational purchasing decisions on their own in the face of a barage of corporate marketing from an early age, Sweden (and now Britain?) has banned the marketing of products to young children. The idea being that government should be the way that society regulates itself, looks out for those members who cannot look out for themselves in one way or another...children being a key demographic that needs protection from a lot of things, including corporate influences trying to "build consumer bases" for products harmful to health (long or short-term).

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