In a post on at Cato@Liberty on January 8, 2009, Tomas Firey calls Cass Sunstein “in his own way, a supporter of liberty”, although he would probably not qualify as a libertarian.
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.