Skip to comments.Joe Biden’s Faulty Lifeguard Logic : “If it saves one life” — at what cost?
Posted on 01/11/2013 7:00:42 AM PST by SeekAndFind
As the president said, if your actions result in only saving one life, theyre 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, theres executive action that can be taken. We havent decided what that is yet. But were 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: Its critically important that we act.
Most of the attention, understandably, is on Bidens suggestion that the president will consider using executive orders to do things he couldnt 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 Bidens remarks is this nonsense about if it saves only one life, the White Houses actions would be worth it.
Maybe its because I wrote a whole book on the way phrases like if it saves only one life, its 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 it saves even a single life is malarkey, to borrow one of Mr. Bidens favorite terms. Worse than that, its dangerous malarkey.
Lets 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 that the government do any of that? Its 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 dont have to ban buckets or cars to reduce the number of deaths. We can simply regulate them. And thats true.
Indeed, thats 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 dont set the speed limit at 5 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 it isnt 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, its 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 thats 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 dont 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, its worth it.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
But, OTOH it may TAKE several lives while saving 1!
I think it was Thomas Sowell who wrote about this “if it saves 1” logic years ago in his column.
If gun control saves ONE life, how many lives will it take by preventing citizens from protecting themselves?
As Levin said last night. Unless they bring back DDT and larger/safer cars...
Plugs is full of shyt.
They’re going after guns because it is a conservative cause. It’s a way to blame shootings on conservatives. Purely, a political strategy, has nothing to do with saving lives.
Even Biden who is mighty stupid is not so stupid as to believe the diarrhea that flows out of his mouth. He along with the tyrant occupying the president’s mansion are simply excreting out the same old tired stuff to try and push their dream - A society where only the police and military are armed
“If it saves one life”- the last refuge of a statist looking to enslave you. Better to lose 10,000 lives as free-men, than to live safely as a slave.
If he won’t entertain the proven life saving method of letting upstanding citizens be armed, if he won’t investigate what HAS cut would-be massacres short many times, then he’s not serious about “if it saves one life...”
Well, then, VP Biden, how about we wipe out the CAFE requirements so that heavier (and, therefor, safer) cars can be produced? That would probably save at least several hundred lives/year early on, and once the auto fleet was once again filled with 4,000 - 5,000 pound cars (as it was pre-CAFE) that take advantage of airbags and better engineering, we’ll be saving thousands of lives per year. How about it, Joe? We know that the Greenies will all have a fit, but if it only saves one life....
Ditto for bringing back DDT - it kills far more malaria-bearing mosquitoes than other insecticides. Again, if it only saves one life.
Oh, and what about banning swimming pools? Your own CDC says that about 10 people per day die from drowning in pools. http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html If it only saves one life....
How about banning fertilizer - you can make ANFO out of it when mixed with diesel. We already saw how lives were lost in Oklahoma City because of it. Heck, for that matter just ban diesel. No diesel and no fertilizer means no ANFO...and you’ve just saved lives.
You moronic imbecile.
Slow Joe’s “If it saves one life ...” doesn’t even pass a utilitarian test, much less the categorical imperatives of liberty, self defense and defense of others.
Joe Bob clerking at the U-Totem understands this.
Why can’t Washington DC? Oh yeah, we know why ...
Joe, government employee's at the local, state, and federal levels work all day in taxpayer funded buildings that can only be accessed by the public by going through metal detectors and passing armed guards, yet the pubic must send send their children to government buildings all day that you have declared to be "gun free" zones and are wide open to any criminal/nut-job/psychopath to come in and slaughter our children.
Can you explain that?
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few ... or the one. (Spok paraphrasing Dickens in The Wrath of Khan)
Maybe, using the same logic, back yard swimming pools should be eliminated because they have been responsible for more than one death. Or legislation could require a very high fence that is impossible to climb and kept locked - - subject, of course, to unannounced inspections. And when in use, there should be a certified lifeguard on hand at all times. See how far that law would fly.
Or maybe we should eliminated showers and stairs, since they are responsible for so many deaths.
Hey Biteme, just how does the above statement fit in with your party's pro-abortion stance??????
The “if it only saves one life” argument is behind nearly every liberal intrusion on individual rights, whether it be taxes on fast food, bans on tobacco advertising, mandated safety features on automobiles, etc., etc.. If you take that thinking to its logical conclusion, the government should put guardrails on every foot of public road and should restrict any vehicle from driving at a speed greater than 20 mph. And I’m sure there are some wide-eyed liberals who would do those very things if they thought they could get away with it.
Well according to a recent story of a mother shooting an intruder, because of a gun at least one life was saved, so the Second Amentment is well worth it.
Back in the Clinton days I used to argue with the antis, and when as always, somewhere is the discussion, they would pull that "if only" business.
I used to reply, "But what if it COSTS just one life?" I swear, they looked dumbfounded and couldn't/wouldn't reply. It was if that thought never occurred to them. After a while, I longed for that to come up just so I could blindside them and revel in their discomfort.
How many cops, Secret Service agents, military members take their own lives - it’s now an epidemic in the military - using their service weapons?
So, Joe, if it saves just one life...
And face it, Joe, these are the lives that are definitely worth saving.
What a completely foolish, nonsensical argument.
I am absolutely certain that the statistics of deaths of unarmed victims versus deaths of those who were armed during violent crimes would prove the argument that everyone should be compelled to carry arms. Logic would be on the side of arming everyone.
As the president said, if your actions result in only saving one life, theyre worth taking, To bad Obama didn’t feel that way in regards to Benghazi! Obama’s rules and beliefs are so transitory, much as he believes the Constitution should be, his morals and beliefs evolve and mutate to fit his agenda of the day.
Personally, I love the argument:
“Abortion takes the lives of women the world over. Banning it, if it saves just one life, would be worth it.”
“Homosexuality promotes AIDS, Hep C, and other diseases that kill thousands here, and millions world wide. Banning homosexuality criminally, if it saves just one life, would be worth it.”
“Homosexuality leads to pedophilia, a disease which cripples or kills millions of defenseless children each year. Banning it, if it saves just one life, would be worth it.”
“Automobiles kill millions. Banning them, if it saves just one life, would be worth it.”
“Bathtubs cause people to drown by the dozens each year. Banning them, if it saves just one life, would be worth it.”
“Doctors kill thousands of people every day. Banning them, if it saves just one life, would be worth it.”
Fatuous morons could go on like this all day, and mouth-breathing liberals intent on imposing a totalitarian police state will go on eating it up.
“If it saves one life...”????? How many American lives weren’t “saved” in Bengazi??????
If that is B-HO’s outlook, then why didn’t he save 4 lives in Benghazi? Or is 1 his limit?
Ban young muslim males.
Would have saved 3000 lives.
You have that right! Just one word says it all.
One life saved, against 25 million lives lost if Bill Ayres gets his way.
>Again, if it only saves one life.<
Better ban bees of all kinds, deer, moose, bears, dogs, horses, hippos, lions, tigers, rhinos (chuckle), eggs, peanuts, 5 gallon buckets, and who knows what else.
Worst Vice President in history.