Cass Sunstein is a renowned legal scholar who has taught at the Law Schools of the University of Chicago and Harvard. He has written many books including Republic.com, The Second Bill of Rights, and Nudge. People who have met Sunstein call him one of the nicest and most non-threatening individuals you could ever meet. It is for this reason that many are blind to what he truly believes. Even Thomas Firey at the Cato Institute goes so far as to call him “a strong supporter of liberty.”
The distinguished philosopher Thomas Nagel gives us reason to doubt Firey’s verdict. In a review of Sunstein’s Republic.com, he said that Sunstein had difficulty suppressing “the impulse to exercise centralised control” and that he distrusted consumer sovereignty. Nagel noted with disfavor Sunstein’s proposal to compel Internet sites to link to political sites that opposed their own views. Sunstein, Nagel says, “underrates the pure importance of individual freedom.”In another book, The Second Bill of Rights, Sunstein praised Franklin Roosevelt’s call for an economic Bill of Rights and urged that welfare rights be given a constitutional guarantee. In yet another book, Nudge, written with the behavioral economist Richard Thaler, Sunstein defended “libertarian paternalism”.In a review in The Mises Review, I endeavored to show that these authors want the government to guide “irrational” consumers to what we really want.The prolific Sunstein has also written, this time with the political theorist Stephen Holmes, The Cost of Rights, that explains why we need taxes. If Mr. Firey considers this record to be one of support for liberty, so be it.
I wouldn’t be so kind. It may be a little over the top for me to use a Biblical verse and compare Sunstein to the devil, but I do so to prove a point. A argument we often hear is how “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Sunstein is just the kind of man that offers up solutions to societal problems that give everyone that warm, fuzzy feeling even though the reality is that in the end they lead to the destruction of freedom and liberty. Now that we have a “messiah” as our president, Sunstein is the just the type of man to push ideas for a “new political age.” And take this to the bank: this post in the OIRA is just a seat warmer until the first Supreme Court retirement and the beginning of the “Second Bill of Rights.”