I once read an online article in the news that told of a male porn star who, feeling wronged in his line of work, took a machete and killed some co-workers. This was the first comment someone had posted on the article:
“[paraphrasing] Our first moves need to be to lock away all porn stars and ban the sale of machetes.”
In one sentence, this person had completely summed up an aspect of liberalism – the constant, and very unrealistic, pursuit of making sure everyone has a life in which nothing bad ever happens and where there is a plan for anything unusual or exceptional that may ever happen.
It’s the idea that “if we save just one life, it’ll be worth it.”
Only it’s not. You don’t regulate a million people because one person may experience an exceptional event.
Take the far more serious and real example of the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April of 2010. In witnessing the mess that was washing up on our shores, one of Obama’s reactions was to ban all oil drilling until we’ve been able to investigate what happened.
There wasn’t really any new oil drilling being allowed anyway, so it was a somewhat empty statement.
But the main point is that the event was an exception. We’ve been drilling for oil on land and in sea for decades and this is one of the rare disasters of its kind. Don’t forget, it began with an explosion.
Explosions are exceptional events, and not at all normal. Meanwhile, other oil-producing nations who sold to the United States continued to explore and produce.
Yes, we should absolutely have investigated and learned everything we can from this accident. But we should not assume now that every oil rig is teetering on the brink of a massive explosion. We should not shut down all existing oil drilling – either on land or sea – and, I would argue we shouldn’t shut down further exploration.
One of the most obvious issues that was blocking resolution to this oil leak is that it was happening one mile beneath the surface of the gulf.
That doesn’t mean you stop oil drilling. We still use and need oil. What it means is that you continue drilling on land and exploring other technologies and innovations, like hydrofracturing (fracking). We’ve been drilling for oil on land for nearly 100 years and have no noteworthy history of any accidents like this.
I realize that the stakes in some pursuits are higher than others – warranting greater caution and assurance before going forward.
Take our Space Shuttle program. Every calculation and innovation is checked, double-checked, and checked numerous more times after that. The stakes are too high to do likewise. And we still ended up with an explosion that killed several astronauts.
That is what can happen when you take a risk – and the United States was founded on risk-taking. Many forget that people were willing to die to establish this country (and obviously, many did). It’s why the Shuttle program (first NASA and then private enterprise) got right back on its figurative horse and began building again. Only this time, with the additional knowledge gained from the failure.
As many of you know, growing up in the 70s meant no bicycle helmets, 12 foot deep ends in pools, riding in the front seat, optional seat belting, playgrounds on cement, and a number of other activities that are unfathomable to the youth of today.
Sure, statistically speaking, some lives have been saved and some skinned elbows were avoided. But liberty has also been eroded as rule-writing bureaucracies grew, and the way has been paved for constant encroachment on citizen rights. And the move is happening so gradually that as the drive to tell people how they can and cannot live marches on, we’ll just accept things as normal when it goes too far (which many, like myself, would argue it already has).
There’s been a fairly recent trend in my neighborhood of having red flags at crosswalks for pedestrians. All one need do is pick up a flag and start walking. By the power of the flag, the pedestrian has the right-of-way and is invincible.
The only problem is, if you walk in front of a moving car, you do so at your own risk. Gone is teaching our children to use common sense, look both ways and cross when it’s clear. Now we just teach them to pick up a flag and walk.
There was a very unfortunate accident a few years ago where I used to live. A woman’s son climbed up the dresser in his room and it toppled on top of him – killing him. As a result, there was a law being considered to force furniture makers to have straps on the back of the furniture that must be secured to the wall.
While this would certainly reduce the risk of this accident ever happening again, it is also adding expense to furniture and opening the door for even more lawsuits. A successful lawsuit in this instance sets the precedent for more lawsuits when accidents happen. It rewards those who pursue legal action in these matters while punishing everyone with higher costs and more regulation.
The furniture will be more expensive and so fewer people will be able to afford it. What those who seek to punish the furniture maker fail to consider is that any monetary punishment to the furniture maker will simply be passed down to the consumer through higher prices.
Society should not all have to change ways, pay higher prices, have things banned or companies put out of business simply because a very rare or exceptional event led to the harm of a child, or anyone.
And this is where we conservatives get our reputation for being mean-spirited and uncaring. I can’t help but also think that the parents must take some responsibility for allowing their child to climb the dresser. As a parent, I understand how quickly something like this can happen, and your child only really has to be out of your sight for a second. But watching the child is still their responsibility, and even a closely monitored child can still have an accident. That is the nature of accidents. They happen, they happen quickly, and sometimes the repercussions are deadly.
Must society pay a heavy price every time someone has an accident?
I say no. The good that comes out of it is that parents can hear about this and learn to watch for it in the future. Instead of mandating straps on the backs of furniture, parents could simply be extra careful to not let their children climb the dresser. Or, they could secure their own homemade straps on them, if they believe that is a necessary precaution. We’ve had dressers without straps for hundreds of years.
Either way, leave it up to us parents. This should not be a matter for our Federal Government. Nor should the business of preventing all accidents.