Monday, January 21, 2013

One Life Rule — All Tyranny Needs Is One Hostage

When Mr. Obama said at the Newtown prayer vigil that America wasn't doing enough to prevent gun crimes, he left it open-ended as to what would be enough.  While he acknowledged that there is some point at which preventive steps would prove ineffective, he went on to intone, "[i]f there is even one step we can take to save another child . . ."  Mr. Biden elaborated recently on this motif that we should do something (presumably at the expense of 2nd Amendment right — don't tell me "the politics are too hard"), even if it would potentially only save one more life than would otherwise be saved.

If a family member dies from any kind of gun-related accident, you can bet that the parents will second-guess the availability of the gun.  I know firsthand that  parents are capable of doing this without second-guessing the need for the Second Amendment.  But parents of victims are especially vulnerable to being used as props for a cause.  And that is certainly true for the Gun Control Issue.

When my own parents were thinking about gun availability, I was reminded of a sort of retroactive version of Sleeping Beauty.  If you recall, Aurora's royal parents decreed the destruction of all spinning wheels in order to prevent the fatal prophecy from coming true.  One can imagine a version of this in which the king and queen torment themselves over whether they should have destroyed the spinning wheels instead of simply trying to guard the princess on the fatal day.  As in real life, it turns out that the royal decree did not stop  the sorceress Maleficent from producing her own spinning wheel, as she did not pay much attention to the law.

In the story of Sleeping Beauty you never see how the kingdom suffers, particularly the peasants, in this preemptive measure to save one life.  The price of regular clothing would certainly be driven up for poor folks, making it harder to make ends meet.  Not to mention the citizens who suffered for bootleg spinning, as it would take some harsh penalties to deter them from saving many, many man-hours in clothing costs.  You have to make citizens into criminals in order to implement these safety regulations.

In the following interchange between Milton Friedman and a young idealist who believes that even though human life is not inherently sacred (he presents his pro-abortion stance as evidence), he thinks that it is wrong for there to be tradeoffs between cost and safety (or at least, he disapproves of where some companies have drawn the line):
I'm put in mind of this:  There is almost always some staff available to look for people that have been lost in a national park or other nearby wilderness.  If you double the staff (and available technology such as choppers), you could increase the odds of survival.  There will almost certainly be diminishing returns with this, but suppose you save just one more life per year by tripling the available searchers on call?  Are you really going to put a price on a life?
Clueless Joe

Of course, it would be simpler to simply keep everyone out of national parks.  What?  Would you make people's lives, potentially a child's life, the price of viewing natural scenery?  Seems pretty gruesome to me, you creep.

This kind of sophistry that goes into "you must give us more power for the children" politics is not only specious but corrupt.

Gun control legislation really took off after President Kennedy's assassination.  Certainly a case of "carpet the world rather than wear shoes," no one would think now of having a President exposed the way Kennedy was that fateful day in LBJ's Texas.  But that was a crisis LBJ was all too ready and willing to exploit.  If Kennedy were the current President, he'd be in at least as much danger as he was then (in terms of potential fire from enemies), except that the secret service protection and other preventive measures are much, much better.  A shocked nation, though, is easy to bamboozle.
"Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest."
   — Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi* 

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