Whatever Happened to Live and Let Live?

An article I commented on earlier contains a range of ideas, people and quotes opposed to healthy life extension. I am not bothered by the fact that there are people who do not want to live longer, healthier lives - let them do as they will with their own health and bodies. What bothers me is the modern presumption that holding an opinion immediately entitles one to a society-wide consideration of the merits of coercing other people to abide by that opinion. This seems coupled to a few other problematic concepts:

  • The idea that "society" is an entity somehow distinct and separate from the people who compose it. For the "wellbeing of society," we hear calls for all sorts of damage and harm to be visited the very people who are the society.

  • The idea that any given choice, problem, or dispute should be resolved in only one way, in all places regardless of local differences.

  • The idea that centralization of decision making is a desirable thing. You would think that the well-understood failures (and the attendant slaughtered millions) of communism and socialism would make this a clear fallacy.

These bad, and unfortunately widespread, ideas lead to a large, wasteful, centralized government that blocks the normal process of finding diverse, peaceful, appropriate local solutions. It leads to great resource-consuming battles over legislation and political power - the money spent on each US presidential election could cure a bevy of diseases if applied to medical research.

When every little aspect of life - and indeed, your right to continue living your life, or your access to healthy life extension medicine - is open to legislative interference from a distant and impersonal government at the behest of people you have never met, shouldn't you be worried?

Comments

"The idea that any given choice, problem, or dispute should be resolved in only one way, in all places regardless of local differences."

In law this is called a Federalist issue. IMO, the "Full Faith and Credit Clause" actually causes some of this controversy because local solutions are given national power.

For example, if Guy A runs off and marries Guy B in a jurisdiction that allows homosexual marriages, their home state will be obligated to acknowledge that marriage by the full faith and credit clause.

Of course this means that folks down in Arkansas are going to raise all kinds of noise over what should be a local issue - who can get married in Vermont.

This creates pressure for the entire country to adopt one way of doing all things.

Posted by: Stephen Gordon at April 26th, 2004 2:34 PM

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