It's said that opinions are like a certain part of the human anatomy in that everybody's got one.
Equality is a value we honor.
It does not follow that all opinions are equal.
Everything is not a matter of opinion and all opinions are not equal. In the US, we frame all policy arguments in terms of liberty, and since we don’t teach critical thought, who wins the framing dispute wins the argument.
This year, my 85-year-old mother in law had her life saved by the excesses of the nanny state that made an elderly woman pay more for a car with a bunch of air bags. You can’t think of air bags at my age without thinking of how seat belts destroyed liberty.
First, they were optional, at the princely cost of five bucks.
Then they were mandatory and the cost of a new car went up accordingly.
Then, all of a sudden, there were jackbooted thugs on every street corner giving out tickets to people who failed to buckle them.
One of those jackbooted thugs, a friend of mine, was rushing to an armed robbery in progress call when he was t-boned by another police officer making the same call at high speed. It took most of a day to find the severed rear end of his unit, which had flown into the air and come down between two buildings. That part of the car contained the seat belt anchors. Had he been belted in, he would have been cut in half.
Therefore, the laws requiring buckled seat belts are an unwarranted infringement on liberty, right?
Some motorcycle helmets obstruct peripheral vision and all of them obstruct your sacred right to feel the wind in your hair at highway speeds, right? Therefore, helmet laws are bad policy, at least as applied to people who can afford to be maintained in a persistent vegetative state.
Obamacare is a terrible infringement on individual liberty because it requires healthy people to buy health insurance. You have a right to play the odds that you won’t get sick and bringing down the cost for the other people in the pool is not your problem as a free individual, free to head for the emergency room and get your cancer diagnosed too late for treatment.
Then there are the death panels. Unless you believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and unlimited health care without cost, some sick people will be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis by death panels.
Your choices are a death panel from a private insurance company that makes money by denying care or a death panel from the government that gets more votes by providing care. Bet your life and choose your death panel, unless you are wealthy enough not to care.
Michigan passed a right to work law this year. Great news for liberty, right, and now everybody has a right to work?
Famous folk song to the contrary, not every union person is Joe Hill. Working people do not wish to be bothered with politics and they no more want to pay union dues than Republicans want to pay taxes.
So the liberty you get from a right to work law is a right to lower pay that affects not just union shops but the labor market generally. People born and raised with the 40 hour week, defined benefit pensions, seniority, firing for cause only, and employer provided health insurance find them as normal as indoor plumbing.
The generation watching union rights slip away is innocent of the debate between the AFL (skilled labor) and the CIO (unskilled labor) and the argument that a guy working on an assembly line at a simple repetitive task does not deserve a middle class wage because God—personified by the market—did not intend unskilled persons to live well.
Also this year, two crazy men set out to do unspeakable harm.
In China, a crazy man went into a primary school and stabbed 22 children. Fatalities: 0.
In Connecticut, a crazy man went into a primary school and shot 20 children. Fatalities: 20, only counting children.
Therefore, the problem is crazy men, because guns don’t kill people, right?
Having a gun in the home makes you safer from intruders, right? Well, no. Persons with guns in their home are at more risk of both being a homicide victim and of taking their own life successfully.
More successful suicide with guns? See! What did I tell you? It’s all about liberty.
Isn’t gun prohibition as futile as alcohol or drug prohibition? This is not a matter for opinion, as we have evidence on all three across cultures, evidence on both prohibition and regulation.
Do right to work laws affect wages and working conditions? They do, and which direction is not a matter of opinion.
Do lower taxes on rich people create jobs? No.
Is there a relationship between per pupil expenditures and quality of education? Yes.
Is there a relationship between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperatures? Yes. Does human activity affect the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere? Yes.
Democracy, understood as government from below rather than from above, only works for peoples who understand the difference between that which can be wished and that which can be measured, between opinion and arithmetic.