The Precautionary Principle?

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I received the following from a reader in reply to my article about the Bill of Safety and thought it a subject much in need of further discussion:

Here in Orygun I’ve watched the Safety Nazis’ seemingly inexorable rise in influence. Seems they always use the public burden theory, starting back in the ’60s with the motorcycle helmet laws and, as you said, seat belts and on and on. There seems no end to it and I’ve yet to come up with convincing arguments as I end up the devil’s advocate seemingly arguing “against” safety. My reply to most  (government) help has always been, “No thanks, I’d rather make my own mistakes.” But unfortunately it seems that I am consistently in the minority. We have been saddled with the “precautionary principle” for quite a long time now and things seem to be getting worse. But then, you know all this. Not long long the Oregon legislature, despite overwhelming votes in 35 out of 36 counties against it, passed a bill to give illegal aliens drivers licenses because ….. “it’ll make our roads safer”. It seems there is no escape. I wanted to let you know there are others out here besides the sheep.

There are two antidotes to this.

The first, of course, is to point out that it’s morally wrong to punish people for harms they haven’t caused. That someone may cause harm is not a morally valid basis for punishing people because they haven’t actually done anything to cause harm. Might cannot be substantiated – or even defined, except as a kind of vague assertion of possibility.

To grant power to “prevent” this open-ended might is to grant unlimited and arbitrary power – tyranny.

If someone does cause harm then you have an objective, morally inarguable basis for holding him (and him only) responsible for the harm he has caused.

This brings up the unspoken premise behind the “public burden” argument – which should be spoken of, loudly.

It is that it’s just as immoral to hold others – “the public” – accountable for what an individual actually does do. If I choose to not wear a helmet when I ride my motorcycle and if I wreck and if I am injured, then I am responsible for any costs incurred. It is a moral outrage to force other people to bear the burden of the negative consequences – if any – of my actions. And it is a moral outrage to accost me with violence on the basis of “negative consequences” that have not occurred but might.

The statists’ response is always the morally repellent – but cloaked in disingenuous “humanity” – argument that “we” must care for those who get hurt (and so on) because of the decisions they make.

No! It is outrageous to suggest that Joe has an obligation – enforceable at gunpoint – to hand over money (or liberty) because Frank – a person he never even met, whose actions he has no way to control – caused harm to himself or someone else.

Hold Frank accountable for what Frank does – and Joe accountable for what Joe does. And leave both of them alone if what they do causes no harm to either – or anyone else.

The problem, of course, is that reason and logic – let alone moral principles – don’t register much with Clovers.

They want and need and feel.

Their anxieties must be assuaged – by gutting your freedom. By cosseting and corralling you (and me) and everyone else, just to be “safe.”

Such people are dangerous for the same reason that its dangerous to hand an idiot child an automatic rifle and a bottle of gin and leave him alone for the day. Only they’re worse because they’re nominally adults and so ought to function at a higher level. Unfortunately – deliberately – they don’t.

The whole point of “public” – i.e., government – schooling is in fact stultification of the critical faculties. It is to keep the mind from ever developing much beyond that of a child’s mind. Such minds are much easier to control, without the “child” even realizing it.

Even more progress in this regard has been made over the past 30 or so years, during which time a generation has grown up caged – literally. Pretty much everyone born since about 1990 spent their earliest years strapped into a “safety” seat – which is in fact a psychological seat. Intended not to keep the child “safe” but rather to impart fear and passivity.

The outside world is a dangerous and scary place.

Authority will keep you safe!

This isn’t said overtly but the message is the same, regardless. And the result is an entire generation of young people imbued with a hysterical aversion to risk – exaggerated to neurosis – who have been conditioned to sit inertly and wait to be told what to do by Authority.

People’s minds – and spirits – have been crippled. Which is deliberate policy. Fear-riddled, child-thinking adults cannot deal with life; they look to their parent – the government – to make it all right.

To keep them safe.

And the walls of a prison grow around us all – but seen only by those whose minds have somehow not been crippled, who aren’t the functional equivalent of  terrified child in desperate need of years of cognitive and emotional reparative therapy.

. . .

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25 COMMENTS

  1. A perfect illustration that the masses have no ability to think whatsoever. Anyone who desires to do so, and has two or more brain cells that get along, can easily reason that the only way to achieve total risk abatement is suicide, or murder if you are a member of the gang of Psychopaths In Charge. Punishing one for accepting risk, or behavior that might induce risk, is a half measure. I encourage Clovers to fully abate their risk.

  2. A doctor acquaintance of mine posted the following on a fb thread regarding lockdowns, etc. “I just don’t understand how not infecting others is an attack on anyone’s freedoms”

    Note the “not infecting others” as a basis for all this. Actions now being taken by businesses being allowed to open to “protect” their customers such as insane levels of sanitation is setting in place a new standard for liability. It’s making it so any business or organization that allows people to gather will be held liable should someone get sick due to some human transfer of a cootie. Or, perhaps any harm of any sort.

    For example, should you rent a facility for an event and someone gets sick, you as an organizer, will be held responsible. I say this based on not only regular shop keepers but, in the case of racing organizations, SCCA, etc., that are setting up rules about masks and such to “protect” event participants. If that’s the case, do they not also take on the burden of liability should someone get sick?

    You thought the “legal system” was screwed up before, just wait.

    • Hi Mark,

      Here’s for the doctor: You have swallowed the doctrine that presumptive harm is the same as actual harm. That the mere possibility – the mere assertion – that a harm might occur justifies attacking everyone’s freedoms. In other words, that freedom itself is harmful and must be “locked down.” And that is an actual harm, sir – as opposed to the anxiety you have over possible ones. And the control freak Cloverism you advocate.

      There is a disease afoot, all right.

      A mental and moral one.

      Note that your doctor acquaintance is also afflicted by moral solipsism. He is one of the “essential heroes” whose work – and pay – hasn’t been cancelled over “concern” about “keeping us safe.” Ask him whether he’s willing to be “locked down” like the rest of us. Willing to lose his business, his home and the ability to feed his family because “someone might get sick.” Bet you not. Bet you the SOB hasn’t suffered a got-damned thing. People like him were even given special dispensation to travel freely during all of this.

      It is almost axiomatic that the people pushing the “lock down” and “new normal” are those most insulated from it.

      I begin to loathe doctors as much as I do AGWs.

      • The blinders fell from my eyes about 35 years ago, with assistance from Irwin Schiff, Peter Schiff’s father, when he put forth that there is no law requiring one to pay personal income tax. Which there isn’t. From that point on it was clear to me that governments, all of them, are by far the most dangerous entity in existence. To look to them for “protection” is an exercise in madness. Regarding doctors; It is a general attitude of many that any who disagree with them are morons. I have seen them go ballistic if a patient does not abide by their decree. Which is somewhat amazing when one considers that in the US alone, every single year, about 250,000 are killed by medical error and malpractice. So far, and likely to remain so, doctors are far more dangerous than corona flu. The current and increasing alliance between them and the even more dangerous governments is monstrous. And yet, the well trained masses worship them. I don’t think I’m from this planet, and I want to go home.

        • Doctors have been using people as lab rats across the board since rockerfeller medicine took hold. Avoid them like the plague they are. They’re only interested in repeat business and furthering their research. Those pigs are the most indoctrinated scum on the planet. They look and speak to the rest of us like we’re invalids. If i ever get wheeled into one of their houses of horrors they won’t see a dime from me. Probably just some envelopes of feline stool samples for every extortion letter they send my way. Fuck ’em!

      • As an “essential” worker twice over, I love it when people tell me I’m selfish for wanting to end the lockdown as soon as possible. Because then I get to tell them that actually, I’ve made out like a bandit on this whole thing and literally have a direct financial incentive to want to stay in “crisis mode” for as long as possible.

        As mentioned before, I have two “essential” jobs. One of those has started paying its employees extra per hour, and also started shoveling hours at me as soon as my state started giving in to the crisis mongery. At the same time, my income last year was small enough to throw a Corona Communism check my way. On top of which, my occupation is being put on a pedestal rather than mocked for once.

        I’m about to take possession of, and start making payments on, a very nice 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo. If it were not for this virus, I wouldn’t be able to afford anything close to that level, and would probably have to settle for another barely-running brick of compressed rust.

        So no, I’m not being “selfish” and wanting the lockdown to end so I can go do whatever I want again. This state barely has a lockdown as it is, and what lockdown it does have is being extremely haphazardly enforced. The reason I want the lockdown to end is because I know the usual suspects are going to use it to push UBI, mandatory adult vaccinations, and frick knows what else, and I know those are all bad things.

        So we’re in a race against time. We’ve already reached a point where precedents set and principles accepted on account of this virus are going to haunt us forever, but if we forget about the virus and start living our lives again before they finish their stupid little vaccine, then it might become like the seasonal flu shot that no one ever gets, allowing us to enjoy a few more years of something resembling normality. If, however, they finish the vaccine while everyone is still cowering behind N95 masks and “social distancing”, then that junk might be going in at gunpoint, and a microchip with it.

        • Hi Chuck,

          Agreed on all counts. Insane, isn’t it, that advocating that people be allowed (despicable) to live – working to provide for one’s family, to not be a burden on others – to question the destruction of millions of people’s lives – is characterized as being “selfish”?

          • Eric, the Progs have proven in the past, that they are masters of twisting words and concepts to fit their warped agendas. Their past leaders, have had no problem with killing tens of millions, in the pursuit of their mad dreams of power and control. Why should the current group of monsters, be any different? Their madness has already destroyed the lives of millions of hard working Americans. But that is not nearly enough for them. What they seek is the out right destruction of western civilization itself. That is why they can not be allowed to win. Far too much is at stake.

      • Eric,

        I just wanted to share the Good Doctor’s response to a lengthy explanation of how, by prior restraint, this WAS an attack on Freedom…

        “thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I think I better understand your position. Those of us who have had medical training don’t agree with you, but it helps to understand what you’re thinking.”

        Does it get anymore arrogant, condescending or conceited than this?

        • Hi Mark,

          Of course, others who have had medical training agree with us – see, for example, the video of the doctors questioning the “science” (or rather, the hysteria) that was scrubbed from YouTube. Maybe ask the “good doctor” about those doctors?

          Also, here’s a question for this doctor, from a guy who grew up around doctors (my dad and grandfather): Why – until all of a sudden – is it that doctors wore masks but patients didn’t? What good is a mask to someone who isn’t sick? And if the answer is – but they might be! – then why not on the same basis assume everyone is a child rapist, since that might be true, too?

          • Eric, you should see Dr Paul’s various videos on this subject. He IS a doctor, with many decades of experience. He also seems to have a very poor opinion, of the Presidents lawn gnome…AKA the “Good Doctor”. I wonder why that might be?… ^^ Did you hear that some of the Progs, are saying that people do not have the right to refuse vaccines? Why? Because it endangers society… This is heading in a very ugly direction. If they attempt to use the military to enforce this, its not going to end well, for anyone.

      • And that is sad Eric as 2 of your relatives in past were doctors. I too am beginning to loathe the medical profession and health profession “experts”. Who are experts at sucking ass to big pahrma. I understand how you feel.

        • Hi to5,

          It is always dangerous to let an “expert” have power. They get affronted when you don’t listen to them. A doctor with power is just as bad a politician with power By what right does one man rule another? It’s a question almost no one asks anymore. Just do as you’re told. The experts know best.

          • Morning Eric,

            Fauci has worked for GovCo his entire professional life, to such people the economy is an abstraction, something that can be turned off for as long as he deems appropriate. To his type, the economy “works” because of government. Even the idea that billions of voluntary decisions, unguided by any central planner or oversight committee the spontaneous order that emerges without force, is incomprehensible to men like Fauci.

            If he worked in the private sector, he would be a mostly harmless, self important prick; he is dangerous because his unhinged crusade to “save the world” is backed up by force. None of us can choose to just ignore the little jerk.

            Cheers,
            Jeremy

          • You keep doing that Eric… ^^ Its not about Right, its about Power. They are after all, an Official Expert™. While we, are mere peasants. Of course we must do as they say. Even if we must be forced to. It is after all, for our own good… Doesn’t EVERYONE want a Safe, Secure and Healthy Home Land?

            This PSA brought to you by the Ministry of Truth. Remember Citizens, MiniTrue is working endlessly to prevent your mind from being poisoned by Wrong Think.

  3. I was thinking about this from a different angle yesterday. Atlanta has seen an explosion in street racing since the lockdown has emptied streets, and now the authorities don’t know what to do about it. The mayor’s barely-adult son had a brilliant idea: just give the racers a designated spot where they can race and stay out of everyone’s way! Sounds almost like common sense, but it won’t happen for one big reason: liability. Even the government won’t be able to escape the legal trolls if it sounds like they set up a spot specifically for unsanctioned racing. So they’ll need more rules and more safety, which will probably lead to time & day restrictions, and in the end, you will get yet another sanctioned drag strip that won’t provide any of what the street racers are looking for.

    We’ve long since gone past the point where it’s no longer enough just to not actively harm someone, you have to actively go out of your way to KEEP anyone from being harmed anywhere near you or anything with your name on it. It’s insidiously innocent-sounding to start (otherwise people might leave really dangerous stuff laying around!), though even the original intent of “attractive nuisance” rules is scary as unlimited tyranny can be justified once “We the People” becomes “Eeeek the children!”, but there is no built-in limit to it.

    • Good points Chuck, the whole “liability” scare paralyzes a lot of good ideas. Too many damn lawyers with nothing to do but try to turn any incident into a lawsuit and cash payoff. Clumsy and tripped over your shoelaces? Not your fault, sue whoever’s property you’re on. When I was working for the electric company there were cases of drivers suing the company because the pole they hit wasn’t in the exact spot it was deeded, i.e., “if the pole wasn’t there I wouldn’t have hit it”. What’s most unbelievable is crap like that wasn’t immediately thrown out of court, guess it guarantees lifetime employment for the “just us” system .

  4. Reminds me of my brain dead days in the military. (BTW, I got better.) We had a saying, “If somebody shits their pants, we all have to wear diapers”.

  5. There was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Q, in a fit of pique, transported the Enterprise into an unknown part of the galaxy, facilitating first contact between the Federation and the Borg, and it went very badly for the Enterprise.

    Just as the Enterprise was about to be destroyed by the Borg, Q returned the ship to Federation space and told Picard:

    “If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you should go home and hide under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid.”

    We live in the real world, but the principle’s the same.

  6. Hi “reader”,

    “Not long long the Oregon legislature, despite overwhelming votes in 35 out of 36 counties against it, passed a bill to give illegal aliens drivers licenses because ….. ‘it’ll make our roads safer’.”

    “Safety” has nothing to do with such bills, they are about power, pure and simple. Democrats know, despite their protestations otherwise, that at least some voter fraud takes place and assume that most “illegal aliens” who do vote, will vote for them. Thus, granting drivers licenses to illegal aliens is an anticipatory counter-measure to the possibility that Republicans, also motivated by power, will succeed in passing voter ID laws.

    In fact, the entire push for “safety” is a sham, designed to inculcate the absurd and dangerous idea that safety is the primary value of civil society; and that the proper purpose of government is to guarantee it. It should be obvious that safety, to be of value to people, MUST be a subordinate value to life, and what makes life worth living (happiness?). Determining the level of safety conducive to achieving “happiness” is subjective and will, necessarily, vary among individuals. Additionally, the “Safety First” mantras is UNSAFE, as well as counter-productive to the pursuit of happiness. I often quip “safety third, that seems about right” to friends who are astonished to discover that I’m not joking (yes, I know that Mike Rowe has made the phrase semi-famous, but I’ve been saying it since I was a teenager). “Safety First” is the slogan of a death cult.

    Those in power are not motivated by a desire to keep people safe, they are motivated by power. This can never be revealed or admitted, lest their veneer of legitimate authority be torn. Thus, the constant, and escalating, propaganda campaign designed to produce, as Eric notes, “an entire generation of young people imbued with a hysterical aversion to risk – exaggerated to neurosis – who have been conditioned to sit inertly and wait to be told what to do by Authority”.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  7. My home state of new hampshire requires no seatbelts, helmets or insurance of any type for adults. Surely NH has already descended into mad max chaos and the fatalities on the road are astronomical. Not according to the iihs. In fact the fatality rate is lower than the national average. Motorcycle fatalities are higher but I can attest to the fact that very few always wear a helmet or seatbelt. Most of our roads are also narrow, hilly, winding and see some of the worst abuse and shittiest conditions for 7 months a year. Safety mandates are all about control and revenue generation to keep the plebes in their place. Here they just do that with astronomical property and vehicle registration taxes.
    https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state

    • Thanks for posting that, Anonymous!

      It irritates me to no end that so many people accept that “safety” edicts actually make things “safer” (leaving aside the effrontery of the thing in principle). It is for tis reason that challenging these frauds is so important.

  8. Jeremy,

    “If, in a state of uncertainty, don’t do something that may cause extreme harm”

    So how long until gestation is outlawed?

    It leads to birth, and with birth you’re guaranteed a death sentence.

    Janet Reno gave us the notion that we must kill the children in order to save them.

    Perhaps we have reached the point where genetically modified human livestock can (with the addition of prosthetics) maintain the masters in the lifestyle they have grow accustomed to.

    • Hey Tuanorea,

      Yeah, life is a virus that must be eradicated!

      Do you still live around Detroit? Are people reGretching Witless yet?

      Of course, I’m not a fan of the precautionary principle as it’s mostly a disingenuous slogan, designed to provide cover for, what I consider to be, an anti-human agenda (radical environmentalism, romantic return to nature nonsense, population control, hatred of technology that actually improves peoples lives, anti-capitalism, etc…). It’s actually really brilliant as it seems reasonable, even obvious (years ago I heard some enviro-crackpot call it the “duh” principle), if one doesn’t think it about it too much. That it provides nearly limitless “justification” to to those seeking to prevent what they hate and fear, does not occur to most people.

      I wanted to highlight the dishonesty, or cognitive dissonance, of those who endorse the precautionary principle AND the lock-down measures. I imagine a conversation like this:

      Me: “Do you think it’s a good idea to do something that may cause extreme harm, but may also provide some unknown good?”

      Frightened “cow”: “No, that seems absurd. Why would anyone do that?”

      Me: “Ok, do you think it’s a good idea to do something that will cause extreme harm, but may also provide some some unknowable good?”

      Frightened “cow”: “Well no, that’s even worse! Anyone doing this is a criminal and should be arrested!”

      Me: “Then why do you support the lock-down?”

      Frightened “cow”: “Huh? I don’t want to talk to you anymore, you make me nervous.”

      Cheers,
      Jeremy

  9. Morning Eric,

    Great timing as I’ve been thinking about the precautionary principle as it applies to the current insanity.

    “The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) is a broad epistemological, philosophical and legal approach to innovations with potential for causing harm when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. It emphasizes caution, pausing and review before leaping into new innovations that may prove disastrous” – Rupert Read and Tim O’Riordan “The Precautionary Principle Under Fire”.

    There are, of course, other formulations but, in its simplest form, it just means that, “if, in a state of uncertainty, don’t do something that may cause extreme harm”. The precautionary principle holds greatest sway among the intellectual left, as it lends seeming justification to their anti-capitalist and anti-energy agenda, informed by their deep suspicion of innovative transformation. They’re not opposed to transformation per se, just the type driven by consumer desire, and ushered into the world by “greedy” entrepreneurs. They’re all for the radical transformation of society, but only if directed by experts like themselves; not the base, ignorant and selfish masses they claim to be fighting for. Unsurprisingly, they rarely apply the principle to their own “bold, transformative vision” (hey, let’s design a political and economic system in anticipation of the coming “new man”, a creature motivated by communal, not self, interest; what could possibly go wrong?).

    It strikes me that the extreme response to the Covid is the most significant, widespread and consequential violation of the precautionary principle that the world has ever seen. Or, more accurately, the necessary corollary of that principle, “if, in a state of uncertainty, don’t pursue an action in pursuit of a possible good, if that action is known to cause extreme harm”. Funny how the authoritarian control freaks, obsessed with power, only evoke the precautionary principle when it serves their ends.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

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