Skip to comments.Biden's Faulty Lifeguard Logic
Posted on 01/11/2013 1:37:58 AM PST by Kaslin
"As the president said, if your actions result in only saving one life, they're worth taking," Vice President Joe Biden declared on Wednesday as he previewed what his commission on gun violence might actually do.
"There are executive orders, there's executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet. But we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and the rest of the Cabinet members as well as legislative action that we believe is required."
Biden insisted that it is a moral imperative for the White House to do something: "It's critically important that we act."
Most of the attention, understandably, is on Biden's suggestion that the president will consider using executive orders to do things he couldn't possibly accomplish legislatively. The imperial presidency is always troubling, but when it rubs up against the Bill of Rights it is especially so.
But what I find to be arguably the most disturbing -- and definitely the most annoying -- part of Biden's remarks is this nonsense about if it saves only one life, the White House's actions would be worth it.
Maybe it's because I wrote a whole book on the way phrases like "if it saves only one life, it's worth it" distort our politics, but whenever I hear such things the hairs on the back of my neck go up.
The notion that any government action is justified if saves even a single life is malarkey, to borrow one of Mr. Biden's favorite terms. Worse than that, it's dangerous malarkey.
Let's start with the malarkey part. The federal government could ban cars, fatty foods, ladders, plastic buckets, window blinds or Lego pieces small enough to choke on and save far more than just one life. Is it imperative the government do any of that? It's a tragedy when people die in car accidents (roughly 35,000 fatalities per year), or when kids drown in plastic buckets (it happens an estimated 10 to 40 times a year), or when people die falling off ladders (about 300 per year). Would a law that prevents those deaths be worth it, no matter the cost?
Now one obvious response to this sort of argument ad absurdum is to say, "We don't have to ban buckets or cars to reduce the number of deaths. We can simply regulate them." And that's true.
Indeed, that's the point. But when we regulate things, we take into account things other than the singular consideration about saving lives. Banning cars would cost the economy trillions -- and also probably cost lives in various unintended ways. So we regulate them with speed limits, seat belt requirements, etc. And even here we accept a certain number of preventable deaths every year. Regulators don't set the speed limit at five miles per hour, nor do they make highway guardrails 50 feet high.
Every serious student of public policy -- starting with Joe Biden and Barack Obama -- knows this to be true. Some just choose to pretend as if it isn't true in order to push through their preferred policies.
The idea that the government can regulate or ban its way into a world where there are no tragedies, no premature deaths, is quite simply ridiculous. But that is precisely the assumption behind phrases like "if only one life is saved, it's worth it."
Which brings us to the dangerous part. Pay attention to what Biden is saying. The important thing is for government to act, not for the government to act wisely.
And that's the real problem with this kind of rhetoric. Not only does it establish a ridiculously low standard for what justifies government action -- indeed, action itself becomes its own justification -- but it also sets the expectation that the government is there to prevent bad things from happening.
Biden has a warrant to investigate the role not just of gun laws but also video games, movies, mental health policies and lord knows what else in order to make sure we don't have another Newtown or Aurora massacre. I am wholly sympathetic to the desire to prevent such a thing from ever happening again.
But for starters, I would first like to hear exactly what Biden would have us do, with regard to the First, Second and Fifth Amendments, before I think action is self-justifying on the grounds that if it saves even one life, it's worth it.
Case closed. Go away, Joe.
Actually, based on history, if we take Biden at his word, eliminating gun free zones, alowing open carry, requiring mandatory firearms training in public schools much like we have mandatory sex education, all would would likely save lives, so how about we push for that. I like the idea of walking down Main Street with a six shooter holstered on my hip.
I have said this for years. If everyone were armed, folks would be a lot more civil towards one another.
Reminds me of a historic (a huge) swimming hole in Northern Baltimore county that was open for business ~60 years that was vertually shut down in 2003 because someone (on tranquilizers yet) drowned there while swimming across it,
yes there were signs posted “swim at your own risk’
If it saves one life it is worth it.
What a stupid statement.
How many lives will be lost when they come to get our guns?
They will shoot us and our pets to save that one life.
How many prisons will have to be built and how many lives will be changed forever as they toss us in jail for hiding weapons.
Do not be fooled for a mntue , even if the US gets away with this theft and violation of our rights in a semi peaceful manner lives will change and lives will be lost.
Homes will be invaded, people will be killed.We will become subjects and no longer free. Our Government will achieve a power over us that it was never intended to be gained.
How many Dictatorships started exactly like this?
Most gun violence in this country is gang related. Want to reduce gun crime? Reduce gangs.
I live within 50 miles of major Nevada Ski resorts.
Every season, snowboarders and skiers are killed on the slopes. Or they go ‘out of bounds’ and get lost and freeze to death.
Every day, people die in bathtubs.
Every day, children, especially, drown in swimming pools.
Every day, people die in auto accidents.
Every day, people fall down stairs and die or are maimed for life.
Will Biden advocate the end of ski resorts?
The end of swimming pools?
The end of bathrubs?
The end of autos?
ENOUGH of the “IF ONLY ONE LIFE IS SAVED—IT IS WORTH IT”......
This same bunch doesn’t want to provide medical care for the elderly, so where do ‘those lives saved” end up??
Biden can KMA.