Jan 11, 2013
Jonah Goldberg writes Biden’s Faulty Lifeguard Logic “If it saves one life” — at what cost? at the National Review, 1/11/13.
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.
Good policy requires careful analysis and wisdom. Both virtues are rare in this debate. Emotionally driven policy enacted in a rush will almost never result in good or effective policy.