Saturday, June 09, 2012

The means justify the ends?

In history courses in the late 20th century, we often heard the words "the ends justify the means" to color the perpetrators of the that era's worst crimes.  The quote attributed to Stalin, "You have to break some eggs to make an omelet" comes to mind, for example.  A similar mindset was discernible in the actions of 1960s terrorists:  the Weathermen, the Manson Family, etc.  So what if we're murdering people and trying to blow up buildings?  It will all lead to peace and harmony and socialism eventually.

 In my post "activism" days, I have been observing the way they (and me, in the past) held so close to their chests the conviction that even if  the  implementation of their idealistic plans ended up a disaster, no one should suggest that their plans were wrong.  It's a literary opposite, but with consequences that could be just as dire, of "the ends justify the means":  "the means justify the ends!"

The first example I think of this, because it was the first example I knew about, being a 3rd grade kid crying after school because I thought the adults were killing all the animals with DDT.  Now millions of kids die from malaria each year who wouldn't without the stuff.    The "leave me the birds and the bees" crowd are still smug in the knowledge that they got the stuff off the shelves.  The data from overseas doesn't interest them.  They meant well, after all, and that's what really matters.

These days, the sacrosanct pure and moral planning of the left has ecology and climate control as its current project to puff their egos in "means" while disregarding any unsightly "ends".  Electric cars take up more energy in use than they give, and even then they only go 35 miles an hour.  Solyndra doesn't grow from the governments investments, it crashes.  But it was still a good idea for us to dump public money on it.

And yes, I know that any business is risky.  But the signs were all there that Solyndra and like companies were not so much a risk as a bottomless money pit.  Because no matter how hard you try, you can't make people use things they don't want to (unless you force them, in which case economic reality isn't a necessary obstacle).  The good means/bad ends philosophy is so obvious that frequently the left just admits it.  Such as when the Kyoto Treaty demanded all countries curb their output of carbon...except for the biggest carbon putter outer, getting bigger all the time:  China.  You don't have to be a climate scientist to figure out that if humans are causing climate change, and everyone but China goes back to the stone age in the way they use energy, nothing will really change in the atmosphere.  But when you bring this up....or when I bring it up, I get answers like "But at least it's a start!"

Now, population far from  immune from this absurd logical fallacy.  Security since 9/11 is an example of this.  Here we are, your government, providing discomfort, inconvenience, and script ideas for "24",so that crime and terrorism are eradicated....oh, wait.  Yeah. Sorry.

Actually, the Patriot Act wins kudos for proving both that "the ends don't justify the means" and "the means don't justify the ends".  Frightening means, precious little in the way of good ends. 

The "means justifies ends" philosophy has also infiltrated public education and the tendency to "socially promote" students, despite the devastating statistics regarding literacy and graduation rates.  If we send Rosie to 3rd grade before she's mastered 2nd grade...well, at least we were kind to her.  We meant well.

And of course, it has infiltrated the workplace.  Unions, for one thing, have mutated from a needed check on corporate maltreatment of workers to a protection racket infiltrated top to bottom with corruption, and their supporters in Congress and the White House continue to give them bennies. They ensure that we reward sloth and punish the competitive edge a company needs for success. 20 or 50 years later when the workplace bites the dust because profit has been eaten up by benefits, sending hundreds of jobless people back into the community, the unions will go on insisting that everything they do is for the benefit of the workers.  Not that management is immune, when it accepts influence and aid from politicians.  The most absurd result of this is the "Buy American" argument.  We're losing jobs because you like foreign products better than ours!  So buy ours, even if ours is less safe/less usable/less attractive, etc.  In the Soviet Union, you could get a car of any color as long as it was black.  Here in the 21st Century US, you can buy anything you want as long as the laborers who made it are forced to make involuntary payments to the Democrat party via their dues and get no encouragement to be exceptional, and as long as you don't want other perfectly qualified laborers to "take their jobs!".  If you have to nag everyone into buying your product, what does that have to say about your product?

Unused bike bridges built with "stimulus" money.  TSA workers searching grannies and babies in an exercise that does nothing measurable to keep us safe in the air (at time of writing, the only 2 potential air attacks since 2011 on US airlines were foiled by passengers, who clearly had more motivation for a good ending,  rather than good means).  Censorship in the name of "political correctness".  Each of  the freedoms we have surrendered since at least 1861 a martyr to the pretense that we are safe and secure because after all, the government cares about us and means well.  So what if half the Maryland legislature spent the Civil War in jail without habeus corpus, if hundreds of thousands of our youth were killed in a foreign war which ended by lighting a fuse for another war, if the prairies turned to dust after governmental agricultural "intervention", if Japanese families were hearded into concentration camps, if we sent more kids off to Southeast Asia to fight a war that no one ever really backed-- a complete tragedy in the way of a show of force to our enemies.  If we get taxed to the gills to fund an enormous bill from China (again...they really luck out sometimes, those Chinese)......well, who cares, as long as the policy makers are good, family men and women who tell us they have our backs (they don't really, but does that really matter?)?

Far be it for me to expect politicians to be anything other than ego and manipulation.  I am just amazed at how absurd the excuses can be. 

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