Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Invoking the Precautionary Principle While Disavowing Knowledge of It

Understanding the Implacable Enemy Within the West (part 2)

This a follow-up to my Christmas commentary: Understanding the Implacable Enemy Within the West.

Just in case you start asking around about the Precautionary Principle, and are answered with the Senatorial Denial such as this: "No, I haven't heard of it. But it sounds interesting. Why don't you send that information to my office and my staff will review it."

Well, our legislators and policy makers sure know how to invoke it despite Senator Knownothing.

When invoking the Precautionary Principle our rulers tend to go whole hog and use it to their benefit as they hide behind the facade that they are protecting us. "This [insert latest fright] crisis is too great, the threat to the public too dire, for our government to be limited in its actions by anything so old fashioned as the US Constitution." Or, in the words of Rahm Emanuel, "Never let a crisis go to waste."

Here's the opening paragraph from a 2007 essay warning of those who know the Precautionary Principle well enough to make use of it to benefit their cronies while ignoring the side effects.

The United States employs a version of the precautionary principle when it confronts threats to national security. We spend vast amounts on defenses against threats unlikely to affect Americans. Experts, defense officials, and politicians justify the expenditures by saying they are necessary to protect the public from worst case dangers. Those claims ignore what is probable and what defenses cost. They exaggerate the danger our enemies pose and strip resources from more probable dangers, making us less safe. -- Benjamin H. Friedman, "The terrible 'ifs': U.S. defense policy makers have adopted the precautionary principle."
My point is, any US government legislator or office seeker who denies they know of the Precautionary Principle so that they don't have to answer hard questions about its use are either liars or too stupid to be running for office.


  1. This is not meant to comment on this particular posting, but rather in response to your recent remark that the term RINO is inadequate. That inspired a memory from many years ago, of high school or college French class, where I became lightly acquainted with Eugene Ionesco's play, Rhinoceros. I recommend that you read (or at least skim) that play (available in English translation). (There also exists a movie version on video.) It is from the theater of the absurd. I think, if you read it, you will agree that the term RINO takes on a more ominous character, although the parallel is not exact. I do not mean, however, to denigrate your preferred term analogous to "skunk", as that is certainly appropriate also. I also recollect the nature of the "enemy" in the Babar books.
    Best Regards,

    1. Yes, the destruction of Western Civ is proceeding along the lines laid out by the Franfurt School, where we the beneficiaries of our culture have tolerantly joined in with its destruction. How's that for get to the point of Ionesco's farce? It's we who are bringing the farce about.


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