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Unspeakable Conversations - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Feb. 15th, 2003

02:35 pm - Unspeakable Conversations

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From:ernunnos
Date:February 16th, 2003 09:05 pm (UTC)
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What constitutes "erring on the side of caution" though?

Is spending billions of dollars on medical care to prolong lives of deprivation and pain because we don't want to miss the chance of meeting the next Stephen Hawking really the cautious thing to do? I think it's as cautious as spending a thousand dollars on lottery tickets every week because we don't want to miss a chance to win the jackpot.

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From:ehintz
Date:February 17th, 2003 12:03 am (UTC)
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I already said I favor assisted suicide. If those leading the lives of deprivation and pain feel it is no longer worth carrying on, it's their decision. It's presumptuous and arrogant if I decide for them, excepting of course the brain dead. I don't want other people deciding what's best for me, it's only fair that I give them that same respect. As for the lottery analogy, well, I guess we just put a different value on life. I consider it to be far more valuable than pick-six-powerball. IMHO, putting a price tag on life is rather pointless-making a cost benefit analysis without the services of a time machine is just bizarre.

Many who live deserve death. And some who die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.  For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
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From:ernunnos
Date:February 17th, 2003 06:38 am (UTC)
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It's presumptuous and arrogant if I decide for them, excepting of course the brain dead.
Parents make all sorts of "presumptuous and arrogant" decisions for their children. They have to. The children are not capable of making decisions for themselves. Just bringing a child into the world is presumptuous and arrogant. Bringing a child into the world knowing that that child will suffer to an extra ordinary degree is even more so.

Your JRR Tolkein quote is a perfect example of what I'm talking about when I say that you cannot set public policy based on outliers. If we followed that advice, public policy would be paralyzed. we could never do anything. For example, it is possible that a robber might one day save a life. So we could never put any robbers in jail, because then that robber would be prevented from doing his good deed. And isn't life more important than any material goods they might have stolen? Isn't it worth having ten thousand robbers wandering the street if just one life is saved?

No. While we like to pretend that any individual human life is of infinite value, it's not. And while there may be a slight chance that any given robber will save a life if allowed to go free, there's an even greater chance that any given robber will take a life in the course of his career.

"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. But that's the way to bet."

All public policy is a gamble. And a responsible gambler plays the odds, not the outliers.

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From:ehintz
Date:February 17th, 2003 08:46 am (UTC)
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No. While we like to pretend that any individual human life is of infinite value, it's not.
Well, right there is where we hit the impasse. Like I said in the last comment, I place more value on human life than you do. So it's quite reasonable that I will have a different opinion.
All public policy is a gamble. And a responsible gambler plays the odds, not the outliers.
There's a lot of public policy I don't like. I think less public policy is the best solution, not more.
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From:ernunnos
Date:February 17th, 2003 09:08 am (UTC)
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Like I said in the last comment, I place more value on human life than you do.
I highly doubt it. I suspect you're no different than most people. Claim to place infinite value on individual human life, as long as they're talking about other people's money, but are perfectly capable of making shrewd economic decisions in that regard when it's their own money at stake. They get the sense of moral superiority with little of the real cost or inconvenience.

I think less public policy is the best solution, not more.
Unfortunately, as long as there is a public, there will be public policy. As I pointed out in another reply, there are precious few parents of handicapped children who don't demand some sort of support from the public. As such, the public deserves a voice.
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From:ehintz
Date:February 17th, 2003 09:47 am (UTC)
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I suspect you're no different than most people. Claim to place infinite value on individual human life, as long as they're talking about other people's money, but are perfectly capable of making shrewd economic decisions in that regard when it's their own money at stake.
Ahh, the money where the mouth is argument. Can't say I've had the opportunity to spend wads of cash on a human, so I guess the next best is animal, eh? Some years back, when I was a college student sans cash, I spent about $2500 (roughly 20% of my years income) trying to save my cat. I think most people would have put him down for $50 or so, but I went all the way to the end. I've also been known to drop $5-600 on the dog when presented with illness. Money is replaceable, individuals are not(and I do consider my pets individuals, though I do not expect others to share that point of view). When I take on a pet, I am entering into a binding contract to care for them, and killing them because surgery is too expensive is breaking that contract. Given my track record with animals I think it's reasonable to assume that I would fork over the dough for a person.

For that matter, I'd much rather see all the damn taxes I pay going to help people rather than find new and creative ways to kill them. Not to mention the pork. Presented with 3 choices-1 no taxes, 2 taxes and strong military, 3 taxes and strong education/healthcare, I suppose I'd probably go for 1, with 3 being a close second and 2 not an option. I'd prefer an individual responsibility type setup, but if I'm going to be stuck with a government taking my money and dealing out "public policy" then option 3 is at least a noble place for the money to go.
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From:ernunnos
Date:February 18th, 2003 07:39 pm (UTC)
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Can't say I've had the opportunity to spend wads of cash on a human, so I guess the next best is animal, eh?
No indication. I think infanticide should be legalized, and I spent lots of money on my pet.
...a noble place for the money to go.
Feel-good concepts like nobility have no place in public policy. That way lies ruin.
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From:ehintz
Date:February 18th, 2003 09:56 pm (UTC)
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Public policy has no place in public policy. That way also lies ruin... There's no government like no government. ;-)

The American Heritage Dictionary defines nobility as "The state or quality of being exalted in character." While I would be the first to point out that the overwhelming majority of those involved with defining public policy are about as antithetical to that description as is humanly possible, I would argue that it's a helluva lot more desirable than money grubbing slackers whose main goal is to further the interests of those few with large wads of cash who financed their campaign.

Anyway, it looks like the only way for me to prove to you that I'm not a socialist pinko democrat is to finance some gimp's hospital bill, so if and when it happens I'll be sure to let you know.
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