SolitaryRoad.com

Website owner:  James Miller


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Actions political




   Most decisions in the political realm involve choosing from a 
   number of possible options or actions.  Typically each option 
   has its advantages and disadvantages, good points and bad 
   points, as well as dangers, risks and potentials for injustice, 
   trouble and harm.  There is usually not a clean cut right way 
   and wrong way to proceed.  Since "no action" is usually one of 
   the alternative options from which one must choose, one in 
   effect takes an action no matter what one does.  All one can do 
   is to use his best judgment and pick the option that seems to 
   him to be the most advisable and best.  Often the criterion in 
   choosing is "that option which is the best for the most people" 
   or "that option that involves the least harm" or "that option 
   that involves the least potential for harm or injustice".  
   Usually there are many factors to consider.  There are various 
   likelihoods associated with the different dangers and risks 
   inherent in the different routes.  As a rule there are a number 
   of uncertainties involved due to ignorance of one kind or 
   another, man's inability to see into the future, etc..  The 
   problem faced by the person who has to make the decision is a 
   long ways from the types of problems one faces in mathematics 
   or the exact sciences.  There is a lot that is nebulous and 
   unclear and unknown, a lot that could never be measured or 
   expressed with numbers.  One is forced to fall back on simple 
   subjective judgments, subjective estimates of risks and 
   dangers, etc..  The decision is often not easy and there may be 
   no nice option or good option.  You may have to simply pick the 
   option that seems least bad.  For example, take the question of 
   how to handle poverty cases in the United States.  Do you just 
   hand out free food to anyone who says he is hungry?  Do you 
   give free housing to just anyone who claims he is in need of 
   it?  How do you decide who really needs help?  Do you just 
   trust people and take their word for it when they say they need 
   help?  In looking at problems like these different people often 
   come to very different conclusions as to which option is the 
   best one.  The reasons for this are many --- different values, 
   attitudes, assessments of likelihoods for different dangers, 
   etc. --- but one very noteworthy reason is the different way 
   different people appraise human nature.  Some people are 
   optimists about human nature.  Others are pessimists.  Some 
   people think that man is basically good and you can trust him.  
   They think that if a man says he is hungry and doesn't have a 
   place to live you should just give him food and a house to live 
   in (these people are the political liberals).  Others feel that 
   man cannot be trusted.  They feel that if a man says he is 
   hungry and doesn't have a place to live you can't just take his 
   word for it.  He may just be trying to avoid working for a 
   living.  So they feel that you must design laws and rules in 
   such a way that you allow for the deceptive and tricky nature 
   of the heart of man (these are the political conservatives).  
   They feel that it is just human nature that most people will 
   "rip the government off" it it provides them the opportunity.  

   Apr 1984


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