Is It Wrong To Not Follow Government Edicts?

The point of this article is to question whether you should comply with edicts or ideas that do not follow facts or logic very well. Much of what we come in contact with these days is propaganda. The difference from what we see today and earlier, nearly comic, propaganda is it is now based on semi-truths. Easier to relate to. When you see material that aims to generate emotion rather than inform you, you should be careful.

I subscribe to the Friday publication “Accountable Freedom.” It is interesting and usually thought provoking.

The one on 27 August was both. Freedom Requires Accountability 

It deals with Covid-19, Vaccination, masks and our duties to society.

Why it is interesting

It makes several assertions that on the surface seem reasonable, but if you think about it, maybe not so much These include:

freedom has never been an absolute” Perhaps it could be argued that any time my freedom affects no one and nothing else, that it is absolute, but since those conditions are so rare, it’s acceptable to think of it as not absolute. When our actions affect others, we must consider that in deciding how to act.

in the aftermath of September 11 …. we accepted new security protocols.” Keeping us safe is a good idea. Other than to quibble about “accepted” rather than “responded benignly to” the imposition of security protocols, I accept the premise. TSA has not exactly been a  paragon of efficiency and respect. If we had known how intrusive and likely near useless it is, I doubt accepted would have happened.

it’s somehow been too much to ask people to wear a mask to do the same,” The relationship to 9/11 is a false comparison. The 9/11 result is a fact, the masks helping us be safe is not. More an opinion. There is science on both sides of the argument. False comparisons are used to generate emotion.

delta variant of COVID-19 …. has completely overwhelmed medical systems around the world”  I have checked and discover that is not true. There are instances of it, but not many are overwhelmed. Again an emotional response is expected.

“our individual actions with respect to COVID-19 impact many more people than just ourselves and our immediate families” An anecdote about an irresponsible person who affected 80 people. Not infected – affected.  Anecdotes are not evidence of anything, and in this case it does not imply that any significant number of people will act against the interests of society as a whole. Again an emotional response is expected.

“That’s not a defensible expression of individual freedom; it’s reckless indifference to the welfare of others.” In respect to the previous thought. An opinion. The connection to reckless indifference of many is not connected at all.

” we should view COVID-19 the same way we view drunk driving,” Another false comparison. Attempting to attach Covid cause and effect to something that is totally dissimilar. We all dislike drunk driving, but the evidence to support the aversion is quite compelling. Masks are more symbol than protector. The science is clearly ambiguous on this one. You could look.

“the calculus used to justify declining to get vaccinated. No one believes they will be among the unlucky one or two percent, even though millions have been worldwide.” Actually that is far from a complete description of the calculus. Reported to date there are about 215 million cases worldwide and 4.5 million deaths. The 215 million cases represents the cases among the total population of 7.9 billion. 2.7% with a death rate of 2.1% among those who contract the disease and most of those are over 70 or have serious co-morbidities.  So even if averages made any sense, which they don’t, there is 1 in 37 chances of getting the disease and 1 in 47 of dying if you get it.. Based on these gross numbers, The odds are 1 in 1737 you might die from the disease. It is closer to  1 in 100,000 among the very young. Know your personal situation and apply it to your decision.

“Hospital capacity is being pushed to its limit by COVID-19 patients, 90 percent of whom are unvaccinated, placing a debilitating burden on already exhausted doctors and nurses who have put their own health, families and freedom at risk for 18 months to help others.” Again the capacity issue. This time with emotionally charged ideas about overworked healthcare workers. I don’t know the percentage of the hospitalized who are unvaccinated but 90% seems high. Maybe right, I would like to see the evidence. I suspect there are many healthcare providers who have suffered, but the implication that it affected all of them seems unlikely. Perhaps there is data. An image of a suffering person is powerful persuasion. Emotionally compelling.

There is a three paragraph example of sophistry towards the end. All based on anecdotes. No background statistics to put it into perspective. While I don’t disagree with the premises that people should accept responsibly for their decisions, I think this sort of persuasion adds little to the overall understanding of the dispute. People who use this sort of persuasion, almost never have more.  In God we trust. Everyone else must bring evidence.

“Personal freedom without responsibility, accountability or consideration of others is not really freedom and it’s certainly not liberty. We need to stop pretending otherwise” I agree with the premise in that sentence and I would agree with it even more if it applied to all situations in society. Perhaps we could expand it to Antifa and BLM rioting. Maybe to FBI people lying to a FISA court. How about politicians enhancing their power with handouts of borrowed government money. Or the issue of religious restriction, or of unions “guiding” government actions, or iffy voting rule amendments, and demonization of others for nonsense reasons.

Society might be pretty good if everyone was held accountable. When you only select one problem and use emotional persuaders, people come to mistrust the message and the messenger.

My view. Most of this would be a non-issue if governments and their agencies, which now include social media powerhouses, acted responsibly. Most people are followers and if people decide to lead irresponsibly, there are conflicts.

Governments have seized power on the basis of “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” They have always been more cynical than we are, but the cynicism spread between them and the people is shrinking. People are catching on to their ways.

Governments act on what they think will empower them. Their method is to adopt the idea that anything worth doing to add to their power is worth overdoing and that is where we find the rhetoric leads today. Induced over-reaction.

I agree fully that people should be responsible for their actions. I do not accept that power hungry bureaucrats and politicians should define what that responsibility includes. They seem to think the people don’t have standards and so abide by none. For some people, but not many, that could be true. I put most politicians into the don’t have abiding standards category.

If people could implement their own solutions based on reliable information and unemotional logic, things would work out better. People almost always act in their own self-interest. Never confuse them. Someday, we will use the past 18 months as the example for nearly every argument fallacy known. From outright lying for effect, to reliance on experts and authority, to confirmation bias, and to data mining.

Hopefully we will learn so as to be less affected when a similar problem arises in future.

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