Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Promoting Virtue and Discouraging Vice

I'm beginning to receive email responding to my blog (which is a good sign that someone besides me is reading it). Another self-professed libertarian-leaner agreed with me that it bugs him to hear libertarians arguing for drugs as a positive thing, as distinguished from "it's not the government's job." I'll go a bit beyond that, and say that there are some actions that are so clearly counterproductive and stupid that it doesn't bother me to see the government spend a little of our taxes on advertising campaigns to discourage vice and encourage virtue.

Now, this is obviously subject to abuse. I wouldn't want a heavy-handed anti-gun advertising campaign funded with my taxes. (Wait a minute, a really heavy-handed campaign might be just the ticket! It might make guns as popular as cigarettes have become among teenagers.) But let me throw out some examples of campaigns that I think would qualify as good things to do (at a reasonable price), and would engender relatively few objections (especially when you consider the alternative of some coercive law that tried to accomplish the same ends):

1. Seat belts: they're good for you. They reduce the blood spatter on your windshield.

2. Use condoms if you aren't in a monogamous sexual relationship.

3. Are one-night stands a good idea? (Some HPV strains clearly cause cervical cancer; the risks are high; a woman's risk increases dramatically as the number of sexual partners rise.)

4. Unless you have a very good reason, it's usually safest to keep your gun locked up when not in use. If you have kids in the house, make sure that they understand that guns are a serious business, and secure the guns from unauthorized access.

5. Is getting drunk really that good an idea?

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