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My readers would really enjoy the site Bleeding Heart Libertarianism. I’m not sure that is a proper characterization of me, but the discussion there is top notch and raises and addresses many of the questions that are simmering beneath some of the content of this site and the work I do. They recently had a discussion about what obligations members of a free society have to strangers – using Peter Singer’s classic questions on whether we have an obligation to rescue drowning children. Click through this link and the ones it links to for a discussion.

Suppose we accede that free peoples have a duty to rescue “drowning children” and that it is legitimate for a third party to coerce us into doing it. I suspect that supporters of the state find this position very favorable. But if we push the idea through to its logical consistency – that governments have a moral obligation to coerce all of us to provide for “the easy cases” then I have a simple question. The argument here would seem to be that we cannot ignore drowning children, even if we cannot see them — and we cannot escape our obligations from having to help them merely by observing that others are in a better position to provide assistance. Our obligation remains. And I think I agree. But then my dear readers, can we ask the state-lovers among us to follow this through consistently with all of their policy preferences? Because as I see it, such an obligation of free-people does not appear to always point to more government action and more government coercion as a matter of logic. Take for example the FDA and its gatekeeping of new drugs. It has famously been very conservative in the allowance of new drugs onto the market – ostensibly to protect the lives of people who may take otherwise risky drugs (yes, there is also an efficacy argument). But when the FDA keeps risky drugs off the market it is knowingly walking past a drowning child. Drug lag and drug loss cost many thousands of lives each year. If, as the philosophers of the left like to argue, that free-people still have an obligation to alleviate suffering, then would it not follow that we are also obligated to allow more drugs to come to market?

If not, then under what moral code are we operating? It would seem to be an ugly and unclear version of expediency, but I am certainly open to other interpretations. And this is but one example — quick reflection on the question will surely yield additional inconsistencies. I’ll buy a cup of coffee for my favorite illustrations by readers.

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7 Responses to “Drowning Children and the FDA”

  1. sherlock says:

    Gotta go with not allowing people to sell their organs. Yeah, yeah that’s prbably the first thing that popped into everyone’s mind but I was the first to say it!

  2. Harry says:

    1) Opposing Third World use of Round Up and RR seeds (Frankenfood).

    2) Opposing fracking, and everything in the world that is carbon-based. (Peter Singer believes rocks have rights.)

    3) Opposing trade barriers, except with respect to Cuba.

    4) Wasting money on solar picnic tables.

  3. Harry says:

    This Saturday my daughter is singing a couple of solos with a church group singing Mozart’s Requieum, and the proceeds (free offering) goes to the local Food Pantry. While Peter Singer worries about cosmic questions about humans overpopulating the Earth and supporting China’s one-child diktat (which kills baby girls…that’s #4), free people here discharge their duty to help the hungry without federal stimulus old/new Weimar marks.

  4. Rod says:

    How about sending food to North Korea in exchange for empty promises to stop developing nuclear weapons? The food does not go to the starving children and people of Nuke Korea but instead to the army, which gains recruits from among the starving people.

    Tonight the Hildebeest was on the tube explaining how the food will buy cooperation in “talks” to disarm. There are only two possibilities here: Either Hillary and the rest of the Obamites are dumb as rocks or they actually expect cooperation. It’s also possible that there is only one possible explanation: that the people who propose this deal are a pile of those dumb rocks.

    Side note: I have been sidelined from posting anything for two and a half weeks because I have been in the hospital and rehab hospitals recovering from a broken leg. Thus I am akin to the drowning child and the beneficiary of Medicare and my supplemental insurance. My thanks to the unbroken but soon to be going broke window posters out there.

  5. Michael says:

    It seems lately that the laws aren’t trying to obligate saving children, but to stop people from suing you because the drowning child you saved ended up with brain damage.

  6. chuck martel says:

    Giving the NoKos food in exchange for forgetting about nuclear weaponry makes perfect sense. So would it make the same kind of sense for us to threaten the Saudis with atomic devastation in exchange for free oil?

  7. Harry says:

    All this to get a free cup of coffee from Rizzo, who would probably find the cheapest place, owned by the Koch brothers, who own everything including the trash trucks and the dumps. Best to have your back to the wall when drinking any beverage bought by an Italian from Brooklyn. Make sure you are taking notes when he speaks.

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