One of the better arguments for government relies upon sobriety: we want rational, measured responses to threats, not panicky, hot-headed reactions. We have a rule of law to prevent revenge and vendetta, replacing them with justice and civil order.
But when we expand the concept of “threat” far beyond interpersonal violence and to dangers from our own foolish or merely misguided behavior, “sobriety” too often doesn’t even seem an option.
Specifically, take “vaping.”
That is the innovative technology of “e-cigarettes” that can be used to replace the smoking of tobacco and other drugs with inhaling drug-laced water vapor.
Vaping is far less dangerous than tobacco, at least for emphysema and lung cancer, but it is not harmless. Several hundred people across several of these United States have become very ill and a few have died of a mysterious lung disease.
So of course the Surgeon General calls it an epidemic, and the White House and Congress take up the cause to regulate and even prohibit vaping. And India just “became the latest country to ban electronic cigarettes,” according to Bloomberg.
Whoa, the subject has barely been studied, and what we know so far is that it was not major-brand nicotine e-liquid, but, instead, boutique product that has caused most of the casualties.
The leap to legislation has been too quick for consumers to alter their own behavior with new information.
Besides, prohibition and regulation haven’t worked to prevent the current opiate overdose crisis.
The rush to “do something very, very strong,” as President Trump puts it, is the very opposite of why we say we want government.
Its lack of sobriety is . . . sobering.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.