The sincere sacrifice test

The patron saint of cynics, H.L. Mencken, wrote that “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

As we have seen in the past 24 hours to the latest obscenity, the Parkview, Fla., school shooting. Gun control has been brought up again despite no evidence gun control reduces any kind of crime. Improving mental health care has been brought up without any good ideas about what to do or if better mental health care will prevent bad things done by people who generally do not believe they are mentally ill.

One person yesterday brought up the fact that the high school has 3,000 students, and that’s too large. Maybe a 3,000-student high school (which is bigger than every high school in Wisconsin) is too large for reasons not related to the possibility of school shootings, but there are other mammoth high schools where school shootings do not take place.

The other reason this comes up is because of Wednesday’s report that Donald Trump reportedly favors a 25-cent-per-gallon increase in the federal gas tax to fund his $1 trillion of proposed infrastructure improvements. Of course, as a millionaire Trump probably couldn’t care less that his post-presidential flights to his resorts will cost more. Those of us working stiffs faced with 10 percent increases in the cost of travel will end up forgoing non-essential travel. Businesses will logically raise the cost of their products because their cost of doing business will increase. (Assuming the report is accurate and his supposed idea passes Congress, neither of which are sure things.)

Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds‘ skepticism about climate change activists is expressed in his observation that “I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who keep telling me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.” This was in response to the report that Al “Earth in the Balance” Gore’s house uses 34 times as much electricity as an average American house,” and of course all the private planes flown to Davos, Switzerland, for the latest global climate change crisis summit.

It is rank hypocrisy for, to use an example from this week, someone who doesn’t own guns to assert that guns should be banned, because that person would have to sacrifice nothing. Or for someone who doesn’t own an AR-15 rifle to assert that AR-15s (called, once again mistakenly by the Washington Post yesterday, an “assault rifle”) or semiautomatic rifles should be banned. Warren Buffett has called for taxes to be raised on himself and his fellow billionaires, which would be more persuasive had he not employed a squadron of accountants to reduce his taxes. (In fact, I always assume insincerity on the part of those who claim they would gladly have their taxes raised to fund more government spending of something.)

One of the rules around here is that doing nothing is better than doing the wrong thing. This flies in the face of the political-liberal worldview, of course. The liberal hero Franklin Roosevelt said that “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” And so after Pearl Harbor Roosevelt ordered the internment of 120,000 Japanese–Americans during World War II, presumably figuring this would prevent sabotage. It didn’t, but it did grossly violate the civil rights of those 120,000 Japanese–Americans. But hey, try something. (Roosevelt never expressed regret for that, though Eleanor Roosevelt did write in her newspaper column in 1943 that the internment camps should be closed. That would have made for some interesting White House dinner-table conversation were it not for the fact that Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were about as married as Bill and Hillary Clinton are.)

I have therefore discovered the Sincere Sacrifice Test to judge political proposals. (I’m sure it’s not original.) In keeping with what I’ve had posted on the top of my computer for decades — the question “What does this story mean to the reader?” — the question to ask is what do you lose by what you’re advocating? And unless you have to make a major sacrifice, your statement is therefore as useful as anyone else with an opinion. If you don’t have skin in the game, you have no more persuasive standing than anyone else.

If you don’t own an AR-15 and you want AR-15s banned, your argument is automatically null and void. If you think overpopulation is a world problem and you being of parenting age are not willing to be sterilized, take your argument somewhere else. If you think climate change is a problem and you’re not willing to give up your single-family house or travel, you’re a rank hypocrite. In other words, unless your solution to your self-identified problem involves real sacrifice on your part, go away.



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