Idle thought: Should we mandate statistically better things?


Categories: Personal Politics

One of the premises of much anti-gay legislation is the notion that, since a particular family structure is asserted to be “better”, that we should push everyone towards that and penalize alternatives.

It occurs to me that, among the many logical flaws here, there’s another we’ve mostly overlooked: The assumption that something which produces the best results on average is necessarily going to give each individual the best chances of good results. Which is to say, the assumption that everyone’s needs and outcomes are basically the same.

This idea is about as viable as the idea that we should mandate that everyone eat peanuts on the grounds that they’re healthy for at least 90% of the population, or that everyone should be encouraged to enjoy sugary snacks, and no one should take supplemental insulin.

People vary. People vary physically, and they vary mentally. The home situation that would be best for one person may not be best for another. And while it may be upsetting that some people make choices which work out poorly for them, I sort of like the idea that they are free to do so – because I mind it less than I mind the government forcing things on people.

So there’s one more problem with the idea that we should push everyone towards the “ideal” family – the problem that what makes a family ideal may vary from one person to another.

Comments [archived]

From: Amy
Date: 2012-06-26 22:02:52 -0500

Personally, I always get the feeling this isn’t really any kind of attempt at Making Things Better For People, but it’s an attempt to ‘win’ at an argument in the same form as Someone Is Wrong On The Internet.

In this case, it’s Someone Is Wrong In My Species.

From: seebs
Date: 2012-06-27 01:23:14 -0500

I suspect that may be true; certainly, that seems to fit with a lot of the specific cases. However, even if we concede the sincerity of the But It’s For The Children crowd, it seems to me that there’s a fundamental logical gap here, and pushing a policy that may be statistically better overall may still be worse than letting people choose, because of all the people for whom that policy is awful.