David Brooks really does seem to be getting weirder. Or is it just me?
What sort of individuals and behaviors do our governments want to encourage? I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned.
Suppose the government started applying this Brooksian litmus test to products it pre-clears for sale on the market. ‘Yes, it’s a new sort of iPhone, I see. But does it encourage enjoyment of nature? Will it subtly make its users more temperate and prudent? If so, how so?’
Suppose you couldn’t legally sell something without making a showing, in a government office, that it fosters appreciation of the higher things in life.
Would it be legal to build suburbs? Would consumerism be permissible? What about capitalism? [click to continue…]