No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Paternalism, Poverty, and Food Justice

By Goldberg, Rebecca L. | Stanford Law & Policy Review, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Paternalism, Poverty, and Food Justice


Goldberg, Rebecca L., Stanford Law & Policy Review


III. PATERNALISM TOWARD THE POOR

The two policy initiatives analyzed in Part II both fit the definition of "strong" paternalism, in that they involve one party taking action to benefit a second party without the second party's consent, and in a way that is either coercive or involves a restriction of liberty. (209) The literature is thick with debates over whether or not strong paternalism is ever a permissible justification for government action. (210) The argument has typically focused on government actions such as mandatory seat belt laws or anti-smoking laws, which affect broad swaths of the population. (211)

As Part II set forth, the current discussion about how to promote healthy eating among low-income populations has led to a fierce debate about the appropriateness of paternalistic laws that single out the poor. A number of commentators have argued or implied that such laws present unique cause for concern, regardless of how one feels about paternalistic laws of more general applicability. The main source of the concern, it seems, is a perception that singling out disadvantaged groups for differential treatment is a form of discrimination, and that such laws are therefore contrary to the ideal of equality. (212)

Rather than starting with the question of whether broadly applicable paternalistic laws such as seat belt laws are ever justified, this Part will begin with the assumption that such laws are sometimes appropriate, and will proceed to an examination of the unique issues that are posed when such laws target marginalized groups such as the poor. The starting point for this discussion is a review of past literature that has touched on the issue of paternalistic laws that target disadvantaged or marginalized groups. The legal scholarship on this topic, which is discussed in Part A, is limited and fragmented, but nonetheless illuminating.

Subpart 1 of Part A will examine the arguments in the literature against such targeted paternalism, while Subpart 2 will look at the literature's arguments in favor of such paternalism.

Based on these arguments, Part B will set forth a series of questions that can be used to analyze paternalistic laws that target disadvantaged or marginalized groups. As the later portions of the Article will demonstrate, these questions can help deepen the conversation about this type of targeted paternalism and about specific policies such as the case studies this Article examines. Most notably, these questions can help illuminate the unspoken theories of justice and equality that often underlie these debates. Probing those underlying theories will prove useful for anyone involved in such debates, but in light of the food justice movement's failure--and need--to articulate a coherent vision of justice and equality, it will be particularly helpful to that movement.

A. Legal Theory

1. Arguments Against Targeted Paternalism

The most direct examination of how the debate around strong paternalism--which I will refer to henceforth simply as paternalism--is affected when the subject population is a disadvantaged group can be found in Duncan Kennedy's seminal 1982 article "Paternalist and Distributive Motive in Contract and Tort Law, with Special References to Compulsory Terms and Unequal

Bargaining Power." (213) Kennedy's general argument--which he makes prior to addressing the issue of laws aimed at disadvantaged groups--is against a principled position of anti-paternalism, and in favor of an ad hoc approach. (214) Specifically, "what we need when we make decisions affecting the well-being of other people is correct intuition about their needs and an attitude of respect for their autonomy." (215) Even then, "[t]here isn't any guarantee that you'll get it right." (216)

The chances that one will "get it right" decrease when a public decision maker acts on behalf of those outside his social group:

   Since private life takes place in a context of social segregation,
   if the actor is a white middle class person acting
   paternalistically, the other is also likely to be a white middle
   class person. 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Paternalism, Poverty, and Food Justice
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.