Cass Sunstein, close confidant to the President and our regulatory Czar, is a brilliant intellectual. He is a constitutional lawyer who came out of the University of Chicago, the same University that has gone from conservative to off into the far left zone in a few decades. Things changed coincidentally almost around the time Bill Ayers started teaching there, right after he abandoned blowing up buildings as a career and moved on to blowing up minds.
The NY Times had an article last year explaining that Cass Sunstein wants to nudge us, but before I get into that, they describe the philosophy of U of C thus – Chicago scholars tend to be social scientists at heart, contrarian but empirical, following evidence to logical extremes. They are centrally interested not in what it is like to be an individual within society but in how society washes over individuals, making and remaking them. The Times quoted Saul Levmore, former dean of the law school as saying, “Cass has the quintessential University of Chicago habit of mind.” That could be bad or good depending on your intellectual framework.
Cass Sunstein’s nudging, as the Times innocently calls it, is Sunstein’s desire to give government regulations that U of C state of mind, one in which government regulations evaluate the interest of the individual against that of society. While he claims to want regulations to be more supple, he comes from a viewpoint that slants towards the common good over individual liberty. We all must regard the common good in what we do, but there is a significant difference in degree from a Marxist standpoint to a Libertarian one. It is this balance which is in jeopardy.
I’m linking the Times article so there’s no need to go into depth about his incredible intellect, his fiercely anti-genocide wife, his learned lessons from Conservatives, or his Nobel Prize winning friends. You can read that for yourself. I grant that he’s tall and lean, means well, not sure about how non-ideological he is, but he’s well-educated and intelligent. There is another point I think needs to be made that stretches beyond all the genuine accolades and blatant foo foo dust. The point is lots of smart, well-educated people are wrong.
His “nudge” is called “libertarian paternalism.” How’s that for an oxymoron? He wants to nudge us by giving us choices with the “better” choice listed first as an example of what that means (behavioral economics is the category – it can become propaganda if stretched too far). The danger of course is in how far he wants to go with it, which, judging from some of his statements through the years, is pretty far.
The Times portrays Sunstein as a middle of the road social equalizer kind of guy who bounces between the libertarian and paternalistic holds on society to mete out a fair solution. He’s a supporter of OIRA, an office founded under Reagan which provides a “fair” hearing for anyone bound by the rules of the EPA and FDA. From the Times: The office’s administrators require that federal agencies express the costs and benefits of their proposed rules (lives saved, swampland preserved) in dollars. Moral principles, filtered through this cost-benefit analysis, find their way into confounding little boxes. A human life, the E.P.A. figured in a 2001 rule about arsenic and drinking water, was worth $6.1 million. My question is whose moral principles? The government’s? Sunstein’s? Whose? He attempts to put a dollar value on the individual life. Is that a good and necessary direction for us? Of course, government programs must of necessity do that to some degree. Anyone who thinks Medicare doesn’t already ration is fooling themselves.
Sunstein wants, as an example, to have companies (car, oil, anything and everything) reporting behavior change through regulations so the public outcry will force them into doing the right thing – the “nudge.” But then, here comes the problem. This leaves bureaucrats in charge of, basically, everything. Sunstein is currently regulating the weather at what will be a great financial cost to us.
Sunstein is a rabid believer in the extreme views of “climate change” and he doesn’t care what the cost is to stop the climate from changing – just saying it sounds like a battle with Mother Nature we are not equipped to take on. He believes the science is decided and will not consider anything else, he will regulate instead at whatever cost to us is necessary.
Sunstein believes many animals will become extinct. He did consider giving animals rights to an attorney and the right to sue in court when he wrote his first book in the 70’s, a time when global warming was nonexistent and a new Ice Age was allegedly on its way.
Sunstein does not believe in the Second Amendment and has considered the notion of outlawing hunting. Two of his quotes follow. It’s clear that Sunstein would have no problem using his OIRA and his “moral” values to eliminate the Second Amendment and bleed us dry trying to stop the changing of the ever-changing climate.
“Almost all gun control legislation is constitutionally fine. And if the Court is right, then fundamentalism does not justify the view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. ” – Cass Sunstein, writing in his book, “Radicals in Robes”
Much of the time, the United States seems to have embraced a confused and pernicious form of individualism. This approach endorses rights of private property and freedom of contract, and respects political liberty, but claims to distrust “government intervention”and insists that people must fend for themselves. This form of so-called individualism is incoherent, a tangle of confusions.– Cass R. Sunstein, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need it More Than Ever, Basic Books, New York, 2004, p. 3
Beck Cited Sunstein Quote As Evidence Obama Administration Wants To “Destroy The Second Amendment.” From the March 16 edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck:
BECK: By the way, Cass also wants to reverse the Constitution from a charter of negative liberties to positive liberties, which means government tells you what you’re allowed to do, not you telling the government.
Sunstein also talked about this — now this is, this is — this is so normal. He just thinks we should ban hunting as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNSTEIN: We ought to ban hunting, I suggest, if there isn’t a purpose other than sport and fun. That should be against the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
This clip from Chaffetz’s questioning, includes Sunstein’s view on animal rights. It’s from the Political Correction site, which is an offshoot of Media Matters, the far left loon site. They posted this as if it were a good thing.
The Internet is another place he wants to “nudge” us into the U of C sensibility. From the Times: Last month, Sunstein issued a directive allowing the agencies to solicit feedback on their proposed regulations through social media like wikis and blogs. “Hardly anyone would isolate Section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act” — the law that governs the public notice-and-comment period for most federal rules — “as the greatest invention of modern government,” Sunstein told me in his office late last year, his eyes filled with life. “But I see it as having potential.”
It doesn’t stop there, however, in 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Salon.com reports, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-“independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists.
So, who gets to decide if anyones’ views involve conspiracy theories? Who is the government to come onto the Internet, with our tax dollars and influence the way we think? Sunstein apparently feels we are too stupid or crazy to form our own opinions. Personally, I don’t trust anyone who thinks s/he has the right to infiltrate and propagandize. Remember the recent hullabaloo over the government’s plan to spy on doctors? Well, the theory of infiltrating, spying and influencing is replete through our government. It was certainly a process used by Obama to get elected. He had paid bloggers going after conservatives on the internet to “influence” them and their readers. Download the paper here: Sunstein’s Harvard paper on governmental spying
Sunstein believes in a new and “improved” Bill of Rights, and to quote him, “In a nutshell, quoting, the New Deal helped vindicate a simple idea. No one really opposes government intervention. Even the people who most loudly denounce government interference depend on it every single day. For better or worse, the Constitution’s framers gave no thought to including social and economic guarantees in the Bill of Rights.” Sunstein is a “social justice” crusader and he would replace the rule of law with his brand of “morality.”
Sunstein hopes to substitute his, or should I say U of C’s, moral values for our individual liberties via regulations and infiltration as the means to the end. Oh, and don’t forget to read his new book, Nudge, so you know what we’re up against.
Read The Times article here if you must, bring a snorkel as you wade through: NY Times “supple” review of Cass