Have you noticed . . .

. . . that the same sort of conservative who regards the mercy killing of a 91-year old man with terminal lung cancer as a moral abomination, brushes off those who worry about healthy 76-year olds dying of Covid-19.

. . . the same sort of conservative who thinks 9/11 was a great national tragedy because 3,000 died, and who favored going to war with much of the Muslim world in response, and who favored intrusive bureaucracies such as “Homeland Security”, regards wearing a mask to prevent a disease that kills more than 3000 a week as acting like a coward.



17 Responses to “Have you noticed . . .”

  1. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    24. June 2020 at 11:30

    Sad what partisanship does to people.

  2. Gravatar of bill bill
    24. June 2020 at 11:34

    Yep, I’ve noticed.

  3. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    24. June 2020 at 11:57

    I would not call Mr. L a conservative, he seems to be an entertainer on hard drugs. A junkie.

    I’m always interested in the mirror image of the situation when it comes to this subject. You can always almost turn it around.

    There seems to be some kind of hardware-wired “chips” in the brain that need to be loaded with appropriate “software”. At first glance, the software can be relatively different, but at second glance it has a lot in common.

    Quite often it is simple partisanship by two camps, but with turn-arounds from country to country. The real issue doesn’t even matter. For example, suicide assistance is frowned upon by many left-wingers in European countries.

    Or prostitution. Sometimes conservatives are against it, sometimes left-wingers. It’s often different from country to country, it’s really funny.

    Or take organ trade as another example. Which left-winger is in favor of organ trade??? You can kill your whole body but you aren’t allowed to sell an organ you don’t even need. What kind of logic is that? There is no logic, it’s bipartisanship and hardware chip madness.

    It seems to be simply bipartisanship quite often: “Camp A has chosen position B, so now we have to represent position B.”

    Rationality, content, logic are secondary at best, if they matter at all, in most cases they don’t even matter at all.

  4. Gravatar of liamrob liamrob
    24. June 2020 at 12:01

    If democracy were allowed to prevail over business interest, we would NOT have gone to war in the first place. Most conservatives and liberals did NOT want to go to war. Some conservatives advocated for a response, but very few, other than hawkish politicians and advisers (Bolton) supported sending in troops.

    Many people see Utilitarianism as fundamentally immoral. The idea that you can place “groups” above “individuals” would remove universality. In fact, you cannot have inalienable rights and utilitarianism as a mode of justice, because inalienable rights would preclude placing a quantifiable utility on life. I think there are strong arguments for allowing individuals to take their own life, but to take their life without consent would violate their inalienable right to life. Making exceptions based on sympathy or otherwise, opens a Pandora’s box, leading to a small group of individuals making choices for the majority – often times at their detriment.

  5. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    24. June 2020 at 12:10

    Abortion is evil because even potential lives are precious.

    Sacrifice 100,000 lives for the economy and freedom? Vital for our nation and only wimps wear masks.

  6. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    24. June 2020 at 12:33

    Foolish inconsistency is the hallmark, not just of a certain “sort of conservative,” but of homo sapiens in general. Only we have general beliefs–only we can be inconsistent–and we avail ourselves of the opportunity copiously.

  7. Gravatar of Sean M DiTullio Sean M DiTullio
    24. June 2020 at 12:49

    I don’t see the problem with your first example. Those who oppose it are likely religious and view it as suicide and abominable. Interfering with nature. Their’s no hypocrisy there. They have solid logic for their position even if you disagree with it.

    And even the mask example had solid logic. Now you’ve shown solid data that mask alone can collapse R0 below 1 and halt the pandemic which makes them worthwhile. But if the difference was R0 of 1.6 versus R0 of 1.4 then for a lot of young people just taking their medicine and getting corona is fine. A lot of people had incentives to speed up the pandemic to reach herd immmunity faster when politicians had zero strategy and and their plan was 2 years until a vaccine. Thats obviously awful for anyone 20-40 year olds.

    Usually you do not draw strawmen. Today you did.

  8. Gravatar of Alan Goldhammer Alan Goldhammer
    24. June 2020 at 13:47

    It is one of the great mysteries of our time. It’s so simple to control the viral outbreak but too many people do not want to make the effort. All that will happen is an unneeded delay in economic recovery.

  9. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    24. June 2020 at 14:03

    @Alan G:

    It’s the downside of American individualism and libertarian leanings.

    By the way it’s a perfect illustration of why libertarianism can’t work running a big country. Sumner and others claim that without government lockdowns, ‘voluntary distancing’ would be enough to stop the pandemic.

    LOL to that. Americans on average are not smart enough to do that correctly.

  10. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    24. June 2020 at 14:05

    Forgot to mention, this ties into the SSC debacle too. Libertarians and classical liberals (same thing?) tend to be very intelligent people, and usually pretty moral as well. They think everyone would live in a libertarian world like they would. So Scott Alexander thought he would be treated with class by the NYT, as he would have treated others.

    Just not how it is.

  11. Gravatar of D.O. D.O.
    24. June 2020 at 14:50

    Prof. Sumner, you don’t know much about conservatism, especially religious conservatism, do you? I don’t. But I know enough to understand that sins of omission (not protecting people from covid) are usually much smaller for them than sins of commission (active participation in ending a life). If someone dies of natural causes, it’s just a god’s will, always happens, always happened.

    With 9/11 and 3000 dead, the important point is not as much the number of dead, but willful act of someone who caused it. Also, humiliation. If you not stand up to those who is trying to harm you, there is no chance to stop them. From that point of view, even the foiled 9/11 would be a cause for war.

    As committed utilitarian and, probably, consequentialist, it would be hard for you to get into precise moral judgments of religious people.

  12. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. June 2020 at 15:32

    Good points.

    On the other hand, 50,000 a month die in the United States from cancer, often caused by carcinogens.

    Moreover, C19 will eventually dissipate, but about 600,000 people a year in the US will die of cancer for the foreseeable future.

    There is a bit of hysteria in the public sector response to C19.

  13. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    24. June 2020 at 16:34

    Anyone remember Terri Schiavo?

  14. Gravatar of Postkey Postkey
    24. June 2020 at 23:38

    Not just a ‘sort of conservative’?

    “Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than Bush”


    He was ‘instrumental’ {urged on by H.R.C.} in destroying {reportedly} the ‘richest country in Africa’.
    Libya today is involved in a civil war, ‘hosted’ a ‘slave market'{https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-rights/executions-torture-and-slave-markets-persist-in-libya-u-n-idUSKBN1GX1JY} and is one of the main the ‘exit points’ for illegal migrants to Europe.

  15. Gravatar of anon anon
    25. June 2020 at 04:59

    D.O. but religious conservatism is also advocating for abstinence predominantly raher than for contraception. Even to the extent of getting exceptions to not provide contraceptive cover in health insurance. Contraception helps in preventing errors of biological emissions become errors of commission of a life. How does one reconcile that? Abstinence only, lol.

  16. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    25. June 2020 at 05:02

    It seems to be more of a national fault than strictly a conservative one. I remember having a conversation around November 2001 saying “well, September 11 was really bad, but we should probably get back to figuring out how to reduce traffic accidents since those kill 10 times more people every year.” And people were aghast at the idea. Little could I fathom that Americans and politicians would still be screaming bloody murder and we’d still be embroiled in the 9/11-Wars almost two decades later.

    Americans voted for the police state that they got: Homeland Security, NSA surveillance, Patriot Act, etc. We were all fine with it because it mostly affected…’other people’. Politicians and teachers insist that we had to stand up and say the pledge of allegiance every single day in school, and we had to sing the national anthem at every sporting event. It’s sad that they never bothered to listen to the parts about “freedom and justice for all” or “land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

    I never could reconcile how loudly Americans proclaimed their principles with how quickly they abandoned them.

    @msgkings, unfortunately you’re right. Our adherence to individualism has reached farcical levels. Conservative politicians insist “Americans can decide for themselves” on issues ranging from legal contracts, air pollution, food contamination, construction standards, and now deadly diseases. I don’t know about anyone else on here, but I don’t have a combination JD, PhD in toxicology, PhD in nutrition, Civil Engineering masters, and an MD. And I sure wouldn’t have the time to carefully study every decision even if I did have all of those degrees. So how on Earth am I supposed to “decide for myself” on all these issues?

  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. June 2020 at 11:09

    msgkings, You said:

    “Sumner and others claim that without government lockdowns, ‘voluntary distancing’ would be enough to stop the pandemic.”

    I never said that. Please don’t misrepresent my views.

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