Friday, October 5, 2012
Right-Sized Gov't... Specifics
The fella who misogynistically and with hints of racism drunkenly states, "Danged welfare queens ought to be cut off the gov't teat..." when confronted of the reality of the single mother who has a child with cancer and is needing some assistance and the gov't provides it, that same fella might be willing to allow, "Well, I don't want to cut EVERYONE off, only those who abuse the system... Certainly not that poor mother..."
So, we all agree that we don't want an anarchist state, free of all gov't. We all agree that we don't want a heavy-handed dictatorial state. It's drawing the lines in between the two where we disagree. So, what if I offer a few fairly specific situations where I think obviously we need gov't intervention/regulation, other areas where I allow that it's questionable and yet other areas where gov't intervention/regulation is overkill? And what if you do the same?
1. Driving a motor vehicle while impaired - this is an obvious threat to innocent bystanders and can clearly be regulated.
2. Dumping toxic waste into a stream - again, the clear threat of reasonable harm to others.
3. Prohibiting an adult from marrying a five year old. Yuck.
1. Driving while impaired is clearly wrong. But where is the line drawn for "impaired..."? We use Blood Alcohol Content as a measure, often saying .08 BAC is "impaired."
This is, in some sense, an arbitrary line. Is everyone always impaired at .08? I don't know, but I hear that this is not the case. Some states may have higher standards (I believe that Colorado has a .05 standard), is that fair?
What about if someone wanted to make it .0001 BAC? Fair?
Probably not, but the point would be that the gov't can reasonably impose a regulation on a behavior that might cause harm to others and a line has to be drawn somewhere.
2. Obviously, we don't want people dumping toxic/poisonous/hazardous waste into our common waterways. Thus, we've created laws that prohibit, for instance, an individual or company from dumping waste auto oil into a storm drain. That drain leads to our waterways and just don't be stupid.
We WANT our gov't to regulate that behavior and stop by weight of law any who engage in such behavior. But where is that line?
If a company has waste fluids involved in their factory's processes and they clean it up before discharging it to the sewage system, is that good enough? How "clean" does it need to be? If mercury can cause harm to humans when found in water at .0001 parts per million (just made up the number), is it okay to say that company must clean it up to .0001 ppm? Or do we want to say .00001 ppm to be safe?
Where to draw the line can be vague and hard to say, but clearly drawing a line must happen and is a reasonable responsibility of the gov't.
I will say that I lean towards a more conservative take - that is, if it LOOKS LIKE, by our best current knowledge - that pollution at .0001 ppm is possibly dangerous, then we want to disallow pollution at a vastly safer/higher rate...
That is the good type of conservatism, seems to me.
3. Prohibiting three rational adults from marrying... If there is no harm, if everyone is in agreement and wanting this, if no coercion is involved... is it the state's responsibility to say yes or no?
On this topic, I would say that it's less clear as to whether the state ought to be involved or not. My inclination, though, is that polygamy has a history of being predominantly used in cultures that oppress/suppress women. It's almost always one man/many women and not the other way around. The women often have appeared (at least to me) to be overly meek and submissive and perhaps not in the best reasoning place to make the decision due to a harshly patriarchal culture that has encouraged (often by weight of "God will punish you if not" sorts of teachings) this submissiveness. For this reason, I lean against supporting polygamy and think the state has a reason to draw the line.
But I will allow that it's less clear and that an argument could be made that it's not the gov't's business, as long as no one is harmed and everyone is free to make their own rational adult choice.
TOO Much Gov't
1. Gov't saying that an adult can't purchase a twinkie to have as an unhealthy snack of their choice. The only harm there is potentially to the individual and then, only if taken in excess. Same for alcohol, tobacco or marijuana.
2. On the pollution front, I'm not sure where I'd say too much regulation is too much, but I'm sure there's a line I could agree to that's too much. I just think that society's right to clean air and water overrides an individual's or corporation's "right" (which doesn't exist, seems to me) to pollute, even at incredibly small rates.
3. Two adult men or women (gay or straight) wanting to get married. Clearly, the gov't has no business in dictating this, as long as everyone is a rational adult making a decision free of coercion.
So, what about it? Can you offer instances of more specific regulations that you think are justified? That are too much? Some that you're not sure on?
How about this: I hate loud noises. When ambulances, overly-loud car stereos or motorcycles designed to roar pass by, I cover my ears. It causes physical pain (not great pain - I don't want to overstate the point - but extreme annoyance and a bit of pain).
Can the state reasonably regulate this? At certain times of the day, at least? Or in certain locations? I tend to say, Yes (well, except for the ambulance, which is loud for a safety reason).