Which Needs Personal Responsibility When We Can Just Trust Our own Overlords?

Across so many fields, from money in order to nutrition, I’ve found the corollary to the government-heavy approach is a desire not to make choices for oneself

The historian and economist Deirdre McCloskey often laments the power that pessimism and despair seems to have over us.

In  her review   of Thomas Piketty’s doorstop-sized book on capitalism plus inequality— oh, in that long-forgotten blissful past when the media and politics were dominated not by infections and misinformation and the racist-sexist industrial complex— she noted that “ pessimism markets. ”  

More recently, in her 2019 book  Exactly why Liberalism Works , she writes even more forcefully that “ whatever brand new pessimism our friends to the left or the right should come up with next, ”   they will  “ compose urgent editorials and frightening books until the next ‘ challenge’ justifying more federal government coercion gets their attention. For Lord’s sake, they say, we should  do   something! Get it done with the government, they say, the only ‘ we’ in sight. ”

Across a lot of fields, from  money   to  nutrition , I’ve found which the corollary to that government-heavy technique is a desire  not   to make choices for oneself. We want a board of white-hat experts to look after us, not trusting yourself with money, morals, information, diseases, sexual dimorphism, as well as how many sexes there are in  Homo sapiens .

It’s better if someone else tells me learn how to think and act. I don’t want to look after my very own health, either in practice or even in theory, much preferring to get some CDC head or state administrator to tell me what I may or may not put into my body; what I ought to or shouldn’t eat; what medicine and experimental remedies I should or shouldn’t get.

Even dealing with a manmade pandemic, all of us don’t seem to want much responsibility for our own well-being, but rather outsource the  quick fix   to some from the people involved in its development. Take the opportunity to go outdoors and exercise? To eat great food? To get in shape? Simply no, no, have the same authoritarian culprits you should  routinely ignore   invent a magic repair for you, so that you can comfortably loosen up and refuse to take much responsibility of your own. Any of the various other treatments  or precautionary measures available? No, thanks.

Two recent memes— that comical language of our online worlds— that I encountered hit at the essence of the confusion.

The first featured a severely obese man with icons that will displayed his daily behaviour: cigarettes, soda, fast foods, alcoholic beverages, and a refusal to use it. Do as you please along with your body, sir, but until yesterday nobody was amazed at the knowledge that these actions weren’t exactly conducive to a healthy living or a durable life  (though  in our Orwellian world saying so is regarded as “ fat shaming ” and is unkind to our “ large-bodied ” friends).

The caption read through: “ Get the vaccine, bigot, you’re endangering my health . ” Simply no, sir, I think you’re carrying out a pretty good job of that your self. The comedic effect is to absurdly insist on others getting a medical treatment— that doesn’t do what the person presumes it will ( prevent spread )— while,   proof-of-work style , refusing to care even the slightest about one’s very own health.

The  converse meme , arriving not long after, demonstrated a line outside an overcrowded McDonald’s, with an ironic quotation attached: “ Vaccines cause blood clot. ”

Perhaps they actually, perhaps they don’t, but the connection  between blood clots and obesity and hypertension is certainly larger and the latter are  well-known   risk-factors for that  condition . Again, until yesterday it would not have come as a surprise to anyone who fast foods are not the paragon of health. And if your own reason for vaccine hesitancy (for a  range   of perfectly valid reasons) is the risk associated with blood clots, can you significantly say that while waiting for your own McEverything?

And here’s the key:   both memes are right — for the same reason I’m advancing here: a refusal to take responsibility for your own health, a alliance before having others inform you what to do  and a good inane desire to tell others how to live their life. The  desire to rule   is strong in the twenty-first century. We don’t want the responsibility that an honest and modern life requires— but we still love to put aggressive judgment on other’s behavior. We want other people to decide for us, in some sort of low-key intellectual masochism.

How to Make Sense of This?

Vaclav Smil, the prolific Canadian energy theorist, gives us a hint in the risk chapter of their upcoming  The way the World Really Works   by citing Chancey Starr’s classic essay on voluntary versus  involuntary risk, “ Social Advantage versus Technological Risk . ” Risk hunters, like downhill skiers or bottom jump enthusiasts  take dangers to their health many many of the difference between any conceivable diets, medical treatment, generating, the terrorism fears that routinely dominate our most severe imaginations, or the stray lightning strikes that feature conspicuously in people’s minds.

For voluntary decisions, those which individuals choose on their own, the valuation of how a lot risk to carry is made with the individual himself  and the implications (usually) carried by that same individual. Even if the choice is made on vastly incorrect knowledge about relevant risks, we have no way of estimating the particular individually derived benefit (though the  action axiom itself   helps).

Almost nobody is aware of how much more dangerous extreme sport is over the baseline of living, but Smil points out that almost everyone behaves as if they do. People dying in “ America’s tornado-swept states” implicitly understand that the probability associated with dying from those events is so small that “ continued living in such areas remains acceptable. ” With the actions, we stoically take the risk we want.

The point is that no matter how wrong an extreme individual situation, it is unlikely that several organized collective governing entire body can do better, or even when they can assess it, possess the individual comply appropriately along with said edicts .   Because “ the decision-making is separated from the affected individual, society has generally clothed many of its controlling groupings in an almost impenetrable mantle of authority and imputed wisdom, ” writes Starr in the 1969 article.

The same kind of folks who think the unenlightened bigot incapable of making choices for himself  think  that aggregating this kind of people’s opinions  via a ballot box   produces leaders capable of  making better choices   for stated bigot.

The amount of voluntarily carried risk is thus incomparable to the dangers people in power demand of you: your under your own accord carried risk can be purchases of magnitude bigger (Starr suggests a thousand times)  and still not constitute the right to violate and overwrite your choice .

To invoke an even more politically infected discussion, take weather change. We are routinely prompted not to fly or consume meat (often for very poorly evidenced reasons), whenever there are much bigger environmental fish to fry. But the big conversations in mass media, academia, and politics aren’t the low-hanging fruits associated with food waste and  proper insulation in cold climates , not the carbon taxes that would— if you want to do something — be the least damaging. It’s the wide-scope, pie-in-the-sky authoritarianism of government spending on facilities, of Green New Offers, of  building electricity systems   ( wind and solar energy ) that do work, of carbon-capture initiatives that, even on the best of assumptions, do nothing.

We’ve tried thirty many years of hotshots jetlining to luxurious locations from which “ leaders” berate the fossil fuel– using inhabitants of the world— with very little to show for this. How about we try another thing for the next thirty many years, like individual responsibility plus markets (i. e., you and me and  Ralph’s very good grocery )?

If climate catastrophes are as bad as they say,   (re)insurance companies   will price premiums accordingly (or fairly quickly go bust). If gas and raw material are usually as scarce as they say, makers will price them appropriately. If houses along the coasts are subject to (higher) flooding risks, the home buyers will price them accordingly— or even distribute the houses in those locations to people  least concerned with that risk .

“ We are loath to let others do unto us what we happily do to ourselves, ” concludes Starr. There is an amount of danger that people will take, and want to consider, and it’s overwhelmingly out of the fingers of political bureaucrats and academic hotshots to make that call.

Coming from tried large-scale centralized plus political solutions for a few years (centuries? ) now. How about we try individual responsibility next? Maybe— just maybe— the political process will more harm than great; and maybe— just maybe— left to their very own devices , people and communities do figure out how to solve the problems they care about.

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