White's discussion of the so-called "libertarian paternalism" is thorough and important. He does some valuable debunking of both the problems inherent in libertarian paternalism, an attempt to have your cake and eat it too, and perhaps even more importantly, the similar shortcomings of conventional economic thought for resolving many social ills and addressing the places where markets fail.
Alas, his critique suffers from some of the same shortcomings as he charges others, particularly conventional economists, with -- that is, he makes some assumptions about the nature of the relationship between buyers and sellers in the modern marketplace that seem to be of dubious empirical foundation. For instance, he claims that buyers and sellers are "natural" antagonists and he acknowledges that sellers often attempt to manipulate buyers. But he asserts that this mostly works out and buyers' skepticism toward advertising mostly insulates them. White's construction of the marketplace is one in which there is rough equivalence between buyers and sellers and it is the government and its meddling interference on paternalistic grounds with which we ought to be most concerned. However, this rosy picture of functional equivalence is not accurate. Sellers, especially the largest ones, have far more resources at their disposal for persuasion than could ever be adequately defended against by any individual. Indeed, because human beings have limited time and attention, there is no possibility of doing adequate research on all of one's consumer purchases, even supposing that there were no cognitive limitations as well. Of course there are cognitive, resource, and time constraints that make the playing field quite tilted and White does not really grapple with this reality. Instead, he conjures up an imaginary world of rough equivalence.
Still, this is a must read for anyone interested in the issues of paternalism and regulation.