One of the secrets to happiness in life is having a coherent philosophy to live by. Most people think they do. Unfortunately what they think is a rational philosophy is actually a conflicting group of incongruent ideas.
Many of the things that they think are good for them, actually are bad. And they don’t know this because they have never questioned their beliefs with any degree of critical thinking skills.
By that I mean that they have never extended the situation to its logical conclusion, to see if the logic holds up. For example:
Many people believe that government is too big, and taxes are too high. They are certain that they believe this. But they don’t really believe that, they just think they do. Their actions betray the conflict in their thinking.
They feel that the government should test, license and regulate drugs. They want it to provide bus service. Run the airports. License the taxicabs, administer the welfare program, provide unemployment benefits, and settle the baseball strike.
They want their government to balance the budget. But when the budget cuts come – they are up in arms. “How can they cut the symphony funding? What about education? How can they not spend more on the children? They are our future! And what about AIDS research? And not the parks! Can’t they cut waste somewhere else?”
In other words, they want a government that will provide all kinds of quality of life benefits for them, but they think these things are free. They are not.
All the big and little things you want the government to handle cost money, require bureaucracy, and erode your individual rights. Things that seem like great ideas, may not be so great – if you extend them out to their logical extension.
Let’s take wheelchair ramps and access. Here in the States it’s a law that every sidewalk built must have wheelchair access. And so does every office building, store, dry cleaner, restaurant, hotel convenience store, or any other private business built today. All restrooms must be built wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, even in private offices.
Now that sounds like a good idea. I mean what kind of mean son-of-a-bitch would want to deny a disabled person access to a public place? But let’s look a little deeper…
When they build a public library, City Hall, or other facility that the government funds, of course they need to be built to accommodate everyone, including those with disabilities. They are funded by tax dollars taken from everyone, including those with disabilities. So if you force a man in a wheelchair to pay taxes or he will go to prison – which governments do – then it isn’t morally right to spend his money building facilities that he can’t use.
But why can’t Suzy Homemaker start a little café with a counter and a few tables without having handicap restrooms? It may be that the extra cost and space requirements (which can be quite substantial), would prevent her from going into business.
Now don’t get me wrong – I think it would be a great idea to provide handicap access for just about any business you do. But I don’t think the government should force you to do so. Because then you are giving away your individual rights. (And there are no other kind.)
Because let’s keep extending the principle…
Are people in wheelchairs better than blind people? Do they deserve better treatment? Here’s why I ask?
Let’s say that you are a distributor with Amway, Shaklee, AVON, or another direct selling company. You build your little website to promote your vitamin products, so you can send prospects there. Maybe you have a spare bedroom that you set up with shelves and you retail products there for your friends, neighbors, and relatives.
If you believe all businesses should provide access for the disabled, are you prepared to add wheelchair access to you home? Renovate the bathrooms? And what about those pesky blind people? Do you realize that they can’t read your website? Are you prepared to spend the thousands of dollars it takes to add all the audio components that make it accessible to blind people?
Do you know that there are lawsuits working their way through the US court system right now that would require all websites to offer complete audio translations of all written content for the blind?
And what about paralyzed people who can’t type the keystrokes? Are you willing to invest in speech recognition technology, so they can access your site? Or be willing to be sued for discrimination if you’re not? Think about that a little.
If we say that it is bad to discriminate against disabled people, and we say that the government should regulate it so everyone has access to everything – what will that do to the cost of opening a business? And the number of new businesses? The choice to the consumer? Innovation? Will this ultimately help disabled people or actually hurt them?
You can’t really test your beliefs until you carry them out to their logical extension. That’s what I mean by a congruent philosophy.
So what do you think? Please share your thoughts below, and we’ll pick this up again tomorrow.