An Obsession With Behavior Control?

The recent True North Reports article on Vermont becoming a petri dish for the creation of a “smart grid” revealed an interesting mindset among our would be social engineers.  Rick Stulen, Vice President of Sandia National Laboratories, explained the goal of the Smart Grid system:

“Part of what we’re about here in the next two days is about changing culture,” Stulen said. “It’s about changing human behavior.”

Here we have it.  The goal of this endeavor is the “change human behavior”.  Such a goal presupposes the notion that those socially engineering these changes know better than the rest of us how we should behave.  Unfortunately, such notions are not isolated comments, but seem to be reflecting a pattern of thought that should give Vermonters pause.  In a blog article on this site in February, we noted that a similar notion was expressed as a justification for raising the cigarette tax.  Usually the rational for raising taxes is the raise revenue in order to fund the necessary functions of government.  Not so in this case: According to Tina Zuk, spokeswoman for the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont: “The overall price per pack of tobacco would have to be increased by at least 10% to be an effective public health tool”. In other words, the purpose of the policy is to control behavior, not to raise the needed revenue.  Again, the assumption is that the policy makers know how we should behave better than we do.

The problem is that in order to change the culture by changing our behavior, the would be social engineers need to be put in charge of us.  In other words, we cannot be left in charge of ourselves.  As pointed out in the following True North Reports Commentary,  the problem that the left sees with our current healthcare system is that “No one is in charge”.  What they really mean is that no would be social engineer is in charge.  How can they socially engineer a cultural change by changing our behavior if we are left in control of our own behavior?  The simple answer is that they can’t, they must be put in charge of everything if they are going to succeed in changing our behavior.  Whether it is energy policy and the creation of a smart grid, tax policy, or our healthcare policy, the real question is who is to be put in control?  The left is obsessed with this issue as they need such control to enact their social engineering schemes.  Remember this when the subject comes up again about the five member board of  unelected “Czars” to be put in control of our healthcare system.


One thought on “An Obsession With Behavior Control?

  1. You’re overlooking something. There are already people “in charge” of us today. That is, the class of politicians and lobbyists and corporate executives who set our culture’s agenda. It’s not just liberal technocrats who are calling the shots. They might be presenting an alternative set of principles, but don’t pretend like without progressives you’d live in some sort of Hobbesian paradise. No one living in civilization is immune from being “engineered” (as you’re putting it) by the choices made by the people in power above them. Obviously those people ought to try to make choices that they think ARE better for their fellow citizens. That is their responsibility as elected (or appointed) officials. You would prefer what, that they sit back and watch while our nation’s precious energy resources be needlessly wasted? Or that they watch passively while millions of families lose loved ones to lung cancer? The policies you highlight here–taxing cigarettes to dissuade people from smoking (and therefore saving billions of dollars in medical costs, nevermind unfathomable human suffering), or guiding people to conserve (and therefore more intelligently and efficiently) use electricity–aren’t draconian measures. They’re good sense. And to brand good sense as elitism–well, that’s a bad argument. And no way to support your fellow citizens.

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