Friday, March 16, 2007

The quote below comes from a debate about government paternalism. Earlier the same person said this:
Saying "People who buy dangerous products deserve to get hurt!" is not tough-minded. It is a way of refusing to live in an unfair universe. Real tough-mindedness is saying, "Yes, sulfuric acid is a horrible painful death, and no, that mother of 5 children didn't deserve it, but we're going to keep the shops open anyway because we did this cost-benefit calculation."
Her point is that if people are not forcibly prevented from doing certain things some stupid people will do them and this is a reason in favor of paternalism. Sure these things will happen, and it does suck but people die in the most astounding variety of ways. Just about everything you've ever done has some no zero risk of death attached, and the death may be really horrible. This is no reason for paternalistic policiesWhat’s really important is the probability that something bad will happen and the severity of the consequences. Individuals are allowed knives, they are not allowed nuclear weapons and guns are a grey area. Why can people not bring themselves to be more explicit on this point?

Later she says:
They will lose their jobs, lose their pensions, lose their health insurance, be ground down to bloody stumps by poverty, perhaps die, and they won't deserve it either.
Hectic. Am I allowed to jump to conclusions about her bias. I agree that people will do stupid, tragic things, but is this really something that happens in rich countries? Like she says this is just a straight forward factual question.

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