Art Carden  

Helen Lovejoy Political Economy: To Encourage the National Labour and Protect the Children

Four Readings from Frederic Ba... Regulating your diet...

My posts last week explained why the government should regulate, if not prohibit outright, meals cooked at home as a matter of public health and also as a matter of employment and prosperity (1, 2).

Here's another idea. You require a license to drive, but why does the same license apply to a childless sixteen-year-old driving for the first time and a parent of three who is naturally going to be distracted by the need to care for the kids in the backseat? Does it not stand to reason that, in the name of the children, there should be tougher licensing requirements for parents? There are two beneficial effects. The first: kids are safer, and safety must be our #1 priority. The second: sufficiently stringent requirements might give rise to a new market of chauffeurs: professional drivers of children. This creates new employment and new income, and the income of the new chauffeurs spreads general prosperity.

Ridiculous? You jest. After all, it's for the children. And if it's being done for the children, it's not only ok. It's imperative.

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COMMENTS (8 to date)
ThomasH writes:

I think that the argument for regulating home cooked meals overlooks the difference in information costs of the eater in finding out the condition under which the home cooked meal versus the commercial meal was prepared.

ThomasH writes:

I think that the idea of licensing different drivers according to their presumed use of the car does not take adequate account of the administrative costs of this kind of scheme. Proposals for regulation or deregulation need to pass a cost benefit analysis. The idea that we always need "more" regulation is just as silly as that we always need "less."

Daublin writes:

Not bad, but I like your example with cooking better. With cooking, you currently don't have to get a license at all. With driving, one could reasonably argue that the licensing requirements are strict enough that people can drive around children as well as themselves.

The cooking one has a close parallel to toy making. Toy making actually *is* regulated nowadays. If you follow the books, you are not supposed to sell a toy to a child without going through an extensive verification procedure that the toys are safe. By the books, I would think any form of compensation will turn the transaction into a "sale" and thus subject to regulation.

BZ writes:

ThomasH - You're right, I do have more information about sanitary conditions in my home than I do about restaurants I visit. However, as I'm a bachelor, I can assure you that the information favors restaurants every time.

Seriously though, let's face it: regulators know even less than I do, and lack the incentive to care. That's why they use rule-based proxies for safety, instead of actual threats of harm, such as the height of counters, and the proximity of containers storing meat vs those of vegetables and the like.

Tracy W writes:

Art you do realise that someone one day is going to quote you seriously on these points, as support for such regulation, don't you?
"Even that notoriously libertarian blog Econlog recognises the importance of tougher regulation..."

MingoV writes:

You're emulating Don Boudreaux with the reductio ad absurdum arguments.

Hazel Meade writes:

You do remember that the Chicago public school district recently attempted to ban children bringing brown bag lunches, right?

And hey, more kids eating school lunch = more jobs for cafeteria staff. I'm sure that was not an inconsequential factor in their thinking.

Alexandre Padilla writes:

Steven Levitt made an argument in his blog Freakonomics that maybe we should require a license for parenting:

He talks about it here but I know he also made this point somewhere else in a more serious manner, I just can't find the link.

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