A recent editorial from the Lexington Herald-Leader illustrates a dangerous jump in logic that plagues so much of our political dialogue.
The editorial, titled “Frankfort beware: the public gets it,” rails against our public officials who choose to support Kentucky coal: “For coal-favoring Kentucky politicians (is there any other kind?) who have balanced perilously on the fence about climate change despite overwhelming scientific evidence, a recent poll suggests you should just give it up if you think you’re fooling voters. A poll released Wednesday showed that two-thirds of those surveyed believe recent extreme weather has been caused by global warming and that human activities are a primary cause of that warming.”
The further implication is that – because of global warming or “climate change” – it’s necessary that government intervene to lead us out of such a dangerous predicament.
And therein lies the unfortunate jump in reason. We are led to believe that if some societal ill exists – then government must cure it.
But so many alternatives are completely ignored here. Just why is government the only means for solving this societal problem? Is there a less costly way than the force of government to resolve the issue? What about solutions that don’t involve the state? Is there any “solution” at all – at least one whose costs don’t outweigh the benefits?
These questions are left unanswered all too often in political discourse, whether the issue be healthcare, education, or striking a balance between efficient energy and the environment.
Instead of asking “What can people do?” those falling victim to this familiar fallacy ask, “What should government do?”
To recognize the pollution concerns regarding Kentucky’s most prized natural resource is not the same as supporting the edicts of the federal government or the Environmental Protection Agency. Why must their unilateral mandates be the most efficient solution – or even a solution at all?
Because of this unfortunate lapse in logic, individuals all too often allow public officials to irritate the ills of society instead of assuaging them. Even if public officials do have the best interest of citizens at heart, do we care more about intentions – or the actual impact these policies have on our lives?
To assume government is the only way problems can be resolved between people is to ignore a whole world of incredible possibilities.