Paternalism Goes “Green”

Clearly there is no shortage of tactics in the “we know what’s best for you” playbook: bans, lawsuits, junk science—even phony health scares. But the guilt maneuver seems to be especially popular lately, and signs are beginning to emerge that some pseudo do-gooders are taking things a bit too far. The common denominator seems to be global warming. Take, for instance, one fed-up economics professor’s op-ed in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
While weighing in on the novel and untested argument that overweight Americans are especially to blame for global warming, author Dwight R. Lee makes one important point about how our waistlines could fit into a plan to save the planet:

Individual behavior is important, and though no one does all she can to reduce pollution, most of us make small contributions to the environment in our own ways…
Maintaining my weight, however, is not what I consider my most important contribution to the environment.

There’s nothing wrong with encouraging a healthy lifestyle, but we seriously doubt that pinning the world’s environmental woes on our extra flab is the way to go. Not only is this approach unlikely to motivate anyone to get healthy, it’s also a laughable plan for solving the climate change issue. 
The global-warming blame game seems to be gaining influence in other corners of the self-righteous activist world too. For a perfect example, look no further than PETA’s Earth Day efforts to brand meat-eaters as the odious culprits of climate change. Or the recent phony Letter to the Editor campaign by animal rights activists at the Farm Animal Rights Movement (check out a CCF response here).
As we’ve pointed out before, these “green” guilt tactics are simply anti-consumer-choice arguments in disguise. Only this time, the usual suspects are telling us how to “save” ourselves and how to save the planet. Like Lee, we’re not buying it:

You may disagree with my views on how best to protect the environment, but please don’t assume that this means I am less concerned about improving environmental quality than you are.

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