Twenty years ago this month I started my job here at GMU. My “job talk paper”, which got me this job, was on a game theory model of paternalism. While the journal that published it insisted that it be framed as a model of drug regulation, it was in fact far more general. (Why would a journal be reluctant to publish a general result? The econ journal status hierarchy dictates that only top journals may publish general results.) Oddly, I’ve never before discussed that paper here (though I discussed related concepts
Re: "If policy makers tend to presume that people on average consume too few medicines, read too little, and invest too little, then they should regret having the ability to ban particular medicines, readings, or investments, as this ability will on average make both sides worse off."
If removing an action an agent can voluntarily take makes them worse off, then the likely explanation is because they are stupid - otherwise they would choose not to take that action in the first place.
(though I discussed related concepts hereYour link to your "Paternalism Parable" is broken, not directing toward this blog at all. I believe you intended to link it to here.
I said "If policy makers tend to presume that people on average consume too few"
And why are we assuming that lowering the activity/consumption of said activity/consumable is bad? Or are you saying that bans lower activity/consumption of activities/consumables that aren't banned as well?
No, because bans lower activity/consumption on average.
"...[the government] should regret having the ability to ban particular medicines..." because people knowing the government's high propensity to ban makes them overestimate the utility / underestimate the harm of a drug when it's not banned?
That makes sense, alas.
Lack of interest in opposing it is far more the obstacle than a lack of relevant actions.
That *seems* such a gratuitously obnoxious practice that it's tempting to imagine subversive ways to violate it, e.g. subtly distinguishing generalizeable parts in some way that won't be noticed by enforcers until after it's become a popular de facto standard.
There are many hidden ways to punish those who defy the status hierarchy. As few would notice such a final sentence, few would object to it.
"The econ journal status hierarchy dictates that only top journals may publish general results"
What happens to a non-top econ journal which is so foolish as to publish a general result? Does the same thing happen if they publish a paper as specific as yours was, except with a final sentence "It has not escaped our notice that this analysis is also applicable to any situation in which..."?