It wasn’t until the U.S. government’s crackdown on internet poker last week that I came to realize that the primary determinant of where I stand with respect to government interference in activities comes down to the answer to a simple question: How would I feel if my daughter were engaged in that activity?
If the answer is that I wouldn’t want my daughter to do it, then I don’t mind the government passing a law against it. I wouldn’t want my daughter to be a cocaine addict or a prostitute, so in spite of the fact that it would probably be more economically efficient to legalize drugs and prostitution subject to heavy regulation/taxation, I don’t mind those activities being illegal.
This has led to much tut-tutting about how Levitt's sense of morality isn't sophisticated. It's just so crude for public intellectuals who happen to be fathers of daughters to think more about what's good for their daughters than what's good for random strangers.
In reality, we do have a political system in which the views of fathers wanting to keep their daughters off the pole do count more heavily. What we lack is a widely publicized, respectable intellectual system justifying such natural political views. This means that while the public gets its way on a lot of common sense first-order issues -- I don't want my daughter to become a prostitute so I want the government to penalize prostitution -- public intellectuals like Levitt (i.e., the people who are cognitively equipped to think through the impact of public policies several steps down the road) are not supposed to mention in respectable intellectual circles the second and third order effects of policies, such as immigration.
And his concerns shouldn't be just first order ones like keeping his daughter and daughter's daughter off the pole, but more sophisticated, second-order ones like what kind of people will there be in America in the future for his descendants to make more descendants for him with. What's really going to matter is not public policies about prostitution or drugs or gambling, but what kind of people live in the America that he's leaving to his descendants.
That's what we need intellectuals to think through, and the vast majority of intellectuals have been flagrantly negligent at that. They are smug about their stupidity on the subject.
The Framers of the Constitution said in the Preamble that the whole point of the Constitution was for the benefit of "ourselves and our posterity." You would think that would be one of those famous "propositions" like "All men are created equal" that everybody goes on and on about today, but "our posterity" seems to have been dropped down the memory hole.