"Middle" Ground

Glen Whitman fears that soft paternalism will lead to hard paternalism. One example of what he is talking about:

Once upon a time, banning smoking on airplanes seemed like the reasonable middle ground. Now that’s the (relatively) laissez-faire position, smoking bans in bars and restaurants are the middle, and full-blown smoking bans have come to pass in some cities.

Julian Sanchez flips the equation:

Americans consider straightforward legalization of gambling or prostitution or drugs too extreme a positionthough at least with regard to marijuana, the public opinion trend seems to be moving steadily in a more libertarian direction. But a proposal to combine legalization with some mechanism for permitting “problem users” to limit their own accesssupposing the obvious privacy problems presented by such mechanisms could be worked outmight conceivably be presented as a reasonable compromise, recasting the status quo prohibitionist policies as the new “extreme.”