Peter Schwartz

Blog posts

Attack of the Nanny-State

One of the insidious consequences of a paternalistic state is that it renders the concept of fraud virtually meaningless. Our political leaders endorse the idea that government ought to decide what is best for us. It is widely accepted that government’s job is to protect the individual, not from being harmed by others, but from

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The Zika Virus and Politicized Science

Science today is regularly distorted to serve other ends. The religious right, for instance, claims that “creationism” should be taught in public schools as a scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. The environmentalist left, for instance, claims that science reveals genetically modified foods to be harmful to one’s health. Both groups subordinate the facts

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The Shackles of Paternalism

Today, the “nanny-state” is omnipresent. Its latest pernicious intrusion pertains to pain-relief medication. Doctors are being told to restrict their prescriptions of opioids, the drugs (such as Percocet and Vicodin) used to reduce extreme pain. Why? Because the government is concerned about patients who overuse the drugs, leading to addiction and sometimes death. The idea

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What If We Had No FDA?

Because the Food and Drug Administration forbids even terminally ill people from taking unauthorized drugs that could save their lives, twenty-four states have now passed laws to deal with the problem. They have enacted “right-to-try” legislation, which allows patients with fatal illnesses to take experimental drugs that have not received FDA approval. Commendable as these

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A Rational Case for Gun Ownership

The fundamental error of gun-control advocates is philosophical: they do not really believe that we have free will. If the goal is to reduce gun murders, the obvious means is to establish stronger punishment for criminals. Since the overwhelming majority of shooting deaths are by people with prior felony arrests, and since only about 1

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“Women’s Viagra”–
Why Should Government Decide?

  In reaction to the FDA’s recent decision to approve flibanserin—the so-called “women’s Viagra”—two camps have emerged. One argues that the drug’s benefits clearly warranted approval by the agency; the other argues that the benefits are dubious and did not warrant approval. But no voices are addressing the more fundamental question: why should the government

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Assisted-Suicide Debate

I will be taking part in a June 1 debate at Dartmouth on physician-assisted suicide. The two other participants will be Ronald Green (professor of religion at Dartmouth) and Robert Macauley (professor of pediatrics at Univ. of Vermont College of Medicine). It will be held at the Filene Auditorium in Moore Hall and will begin

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Shackling the Internet

The issue of “net neutrality” is just one aspect of a much bigger, more ominous, story: the FCC takeover of the Internet. From now on, the Internet will be treated the way the telephone industry was in the ’60s and ’70s, before deregulation removed the suffocating grip of government. If you remember the antiquated days

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Assisted Suicide–Follow-up

I received the following questions in response to my article “A Real Right to Life,” in which defended assisted suicide. (Since I was asked privately, I am omitting the person’s name.) I am a high school student researching about assisted suicide and I came across your article “A Real Right to Life.” Can you answer

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A Real Right to Life

Several days ago 29-year-old Brittany Maynard exercised the final act of sovereignty over her life: she chose to end it. She had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and, earlier this spring, had been given six months to live by her California physician. She considered spending her last days in a hospice, but, she explained:

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If the Government Feeds You, It Will Tell You What You May and May Not Eat

There are many areas in which our paternalistic government has decided it must protect you against yourself. Among the latest is “predatory lending.” That accusatory adjective does not refer to fraudulent loans. The borrowers are not being lied to and they are not being coerced; they knowingly accept the lender’s terms. Rather, as a N.Y. Times

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The Threat of the Paternalistic State

[This was published in the Tampa Tribune and the Los Angeles Daily News, July 23, 2002] A precondition of freedom is the recognition of the individual’s capacity to make decisions for himself. If man were viewed as congenitally incapable of making rational choices, there would be no basis for the very concept of rights. Yet that

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