Thomas Sowell once said, “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it.” Dr. Sowell then added, “The first rule of politics is to disregard the first rule of economics.”
I love this quote, as it illustrates much of what is wrong with the political world, but there is another quote that I think is even more illustrative of all that is wrong with politics. This quote is the Hypocritic Oath all doctors take: “First, do no harm.”
Whenever I see a political solution to any perceived problem, I ask myself a number of questions. First, I ask, “Is the problem real?” Next, I ask, “Is the problem as bad as portrayed,” followed quickly by, “How bad is it?” If I decide that the problem is real, and that it is truly a problem that must be solved, then I begin to look at all of the various solutions available, in the hopes of finding the best one.
Once I have determined what I think the best solution available is, I still have one more question to ask: “Is this solution better than the problem?” Sometimes the best solution is to do nothing at all.
Keep in mind too that ‘doing nothing’ does not mean that a problem will continue. ‘Doing nothing’ only means that government does not solve a problem. Problems are solved by private enterprise every day.
The most important question a politician can possibly ask is, “Is this solution better than the problem,” and too often the answer is a resounding “No.” If we were to, just as one example, adopt Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ ‘Green New Deal,’ the price tag would be an astounding $9.3 trillion per year, which is roughly half the US economy.
I could pick apart every aspect of the Green New Deal, and show how, even if it were free, it would destroy our economy and cost countless lives. I could, in fact, make a pretty good case that frying the globe in a vat of bacon grease would be preferable to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ ‘Green New Deal.’ For the purpose of this article, however, let’s just look at the cost, and see if it passes the tests this article starts with.
Does the Green New Deal take into account that there is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want something? No. There are not enough tax dollars to satisfy the Green New Deal, and the government cannot possibly raise another $9.3 trillion a year in taxes, as doing so would destroy our economy (aka our ‘tax base’).
Perhaps more importantly, we have to ask ourselves whether or not the ‘Green New Deal’ starts with, “First, do no harm.” Again, the proposal fails, as even if we ignore the specifics within the proposal, taking $9.3 trillion a year out of our economy would cause catastrophic harm to every man, woman, and child alive.
How about Beto O’Rourke’s weapons confiscation scheme? Does this pass muster?
The first question in this case is irrelevant, as the whole point is to make guns more scarce, but what about the second question? What harm would a weapons ban cause?
Anyone who wants to have an HONEST debate about the Second Amendment would have to acknowledge that the Clinton ‘assault weapons’ ban did nothing to stop any kind of crime, and would have to acknowledge not only the number of people killed with guns every year, but also the number of violent crimes that are prevented by guns, which, according to the FBI is over two million.
About 40,000 people die from gun deaths per year. 37% of those are murder, so we are talking about somewhere around 14,800 gun murders every year. Even if we assume that a gun ban would stop every one of those murders, anyone serious about the debate would have to acknowledge that you are 14,000 times more likely to prevent a violent crime with a gun, than to be killed by one.
Let’s ask the question as a tradeoff: If you could reduce the number of gun murders in our country, but to do so you had to increase the number of rapes, such that for every one person not killed by a gun, 14,000 women would be brutally raped, would you make that tradeoff? THAT is the REAL question.
Does a weapons ban pass the test of ‘First, do no harm’? Of course not…
That is not to say that we cannot do anything about gun deaths. I am proposing only that a ban is not the answer.
Moving on to another topic, did legalizing abortion pass either test? We can say without a doubt that it failed the first test, as even after forty some odd years, there is still more demand for abortions than we can meet, causing Democrats to want to make government pay for all abortions ‘on demand.’
Officially, Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 610,000 deaths per year – a full quarter of everyone who dies.
Consider, for just one moment, that if abortion were an official ’cause of death,’ it would be the number one cause of death in our country today – beating Heart Disease by two-times the number that die from gun murders.
When Roe vs. Wade came out, supporters promised that abortion would never become commonplace. Today, it is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing at a faster rate than even Hitler could manage. We can debate the question of a woman’s choice vs the right to life until the cows come home, but anyone who is not troubled by abortion being literally the number one form of death in the United States has no soul.
Legalizing abortion has caused immeasurable harm.
I am not, incidentally, suggesting that a woman should have no right to choice. I am only suggesting that the full legalization of abortion has resulted in abortion becoming the number one cause of death in our country, and that any nation that aborts so many babies that abortion is the leading cause of death, has a very real problem with morality.
Being a conservative, I am picking on liberal proposals, and I could continue to do so all day. Minimum wages cause great harm, as has the War on Poverty. The list is endless. I could just as easily pick on conservative ideas. The War on Drugs comes to mind…
The point is that every time something bad happens, the public cries for government to ‘do something,’ without taking the time to stop and think about all of the things government might do. Special interests peddle off supposed ‘solutions,’ that then get picked up by politicians, but politicians generally ignore the fact that there is never enough of anything to meet demand, and that many so-called ‘solutions’ do great harm.
Too often we end up with cures that prove to be worse than the disease.
Politicians ignore possible solutions that have no special-interest backing, but that might present a better trade-off than the solutions thrown about.
If there was one lesson I would like to teach to the American People – one thing that educating the public on would be worth giving my life for – it would be the simple fact that there are no solutions to societal problems. There are only tradeoffs. Government’s job is not so ‘solve problems’, but to make the best tradeoffs possible, in the interest of the people.
Every time I hear people blame stupid politicians for our nation’s problems, I remind myself that politicians are not stupid; politicians, rather, do what gets them re-elected. ‘We the people’ are the stupid ones, and we are stupid because we forget that there is never enough of anything to meet all demand, and we forget that the first rule of life is to ‘first, do no harm.’ As a consequence, we keep electing whomever is most willing to ignore these universal truths.
And we continue to pay the consequences.
We will continue to pay the consequences until such a time as the public understands two simple quotes:
“The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it.”
“First, do no harm.”
As a voter, I ask you to approach all problems with a series of questions. First ask, “Is the problem real?” You’ll be surprised how often the problem is not… Next ask, “Is the problem as bad as portrayed,” followed quickly by, “How bad is it?” If you decide that the problem is real, and that it is truly a problem that must be solved, then look at all of the various solutions available, in the hopes of finding the best one.
Once you have determined what you think the best solution available is, ask yourself one more question: “Is this solution better than the problem?”, or perhaps more importantly, “Is government the best way to solve this problem?” The free market is very effective at solving most problems, all on its own, and many times when there is a problem, it is because of something the government attempted to solve…
Never vote for a solution if the solution is worse than the problem it claims to solve, and never vote for a politician who peddles such a solution to the public.
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