The Illogical Logic Of Illogic

There are, of course, two sides to every story.  There is, in addition, more than one way to skin a cat.  It is also true that opinions are like belly buttons—everybody has one.

I enjoy a good debate as much as the next person, and I try to use supporting data and thoughtful analyses where possible.  I do my darnedest to listen respectfully to differing beliefs, examine the premises of opposing arguments with an open mind, and give careful consideration to alternative viewpoints.  I try.  I really, really try.

However, three of the ideas now being both proposed and implemented that are supposed to improve our nation are so incredibly outlandish that I start to search for a cold beer to dull the pain of just having to hear them spoken aloud.

The underlying problem is that I am a very logical person, and ideas that drip with illogic tend to send me into a tailspin.  On some very basic level, I find it impossible to believe that reasonable and responsible adults could actually believe the ludicrous words coming out of their mouths, and I fall into the trap of attempting to understand their thought processes.  Many times I cannot.  It just hurts too much to try.

I listen, for example, to those who propose that we should open our borders, abolish immigration enforcement agencies, and provide for every need of those who simply enter our nation without prior permission or appropriate documentation.  I understand that open border advocates see national boundaries as an antediluvian artifact of our tribal history that results in continuous violations of the basic human right to go wherever one wants—and be welcomed with open arms.

However, from a logical standpoint, this seems a disaster.  Although relatively few of those who enter our nation are criminals—aside from, of course, having broken the law by entering our country without permission—there does need to be a vetting system to weed out those who would pose a danger to Americans should they be allowed to cross our borders.  Moreover, the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the enforcement of the “public charge” regulations that are intended to halt the entrance of those likely to end up on public assistance, speaks to concerns about the differences between those immigrants likely to contribute economically to our country’s prosperity—and those who will not.  Finally, as the recent worldwide panic over the spread of the deadly Coronavirus makes plain, uncontrolled immigration can, in fact, lead to a public health catastrophe if we are unable to carefully examine every individual who enters our nation.

Although we certainly want to assist individuals who have a legitimate need or purpose for emigrating to the United States, the health and safety of Americans are—and must be—theprimary “humanitarian” considerations concerning our border enforcement policies and procedures.

Speaking of safety, I still cannot believe that we continue to allow for the possibility that driverless cars and pilotless aircraft might someday be routinely allowed on our roads and in our skies.  I understand that this type of research can lead to improved warning systems that might prevent accidents and crashes, but the final step sought by many—completely autonomous navigation and control—is plain and simple foolishness.  

Auto-pilot technology on long plane flights relieves pilots of the tedium of dealing with the many minute adjustments necessary to keep an airplane flying straight and level, but there is no way whatsoever a human pilot in the cockpit should be eliminated from the safety equation.  Emergency situations and conditions require an immediate human response—just ask “Sully”.  

We must also remember that any computer system can be hacked, and the possibility that a pilotless cargo jet could be turned by a terrorist into a deadly missile with a few keystrokes is too terrifying to contemplate.  Human control of flight is a necessary safeguard against having a 500 ton winged meteorite hit a densely packed urban area—and leave a smoking crater full of charred corpses behind.

Driverless cars and trucks have the same potential to be hacked and cause horrible loss of life, and unlike an airplane that has only to worry about hitting a cloud when flying at cruising altitude, drivers must recognize and make adjustments to weather conditions, day and night, pedestrians, road hazards, animals, road construction, bicyclists, and lots and lots of weaving cars and trucks driven by humans dealing with varying degrees of attention and distraction.  Even the best technology will fail on occasion, and the consequences when it comes to out-of-control cars and trucks will be far worse than a dropped phone call or glitchy YouTube video—much, much worse, in fact.

Finally, given that I was born in New York State and lived there until I left to attend college, I have taken a particular interest in—and have been particularly aghast at—the illogical cash bail “reforms” that became law there on January 1st.  

I understand the complaints that cash bail systems are tougher for the poor to manage.  However, New York’s solution of prohibiting cash bail for a mind boggling array of serious offenses—burglary, drug sales near a school, stalking, assault, forgery, fraud, perjury, resisting arrest, bribery, arson, manslaughter, negligent homicide, intimidation, criminal possession of a firearm, public lewdness, money laundering, criminal conspiracy, and many others—leaps the boundary between common sense compassion and social justice insanity.  

Worse yet, by legislatively eliminating the option for judges to impose cash bails when they have clear evidence the accused is a danger to the community, witnesses—or even the victims of their crimes—New York’s elected officials have created needless risk for everyone as the price of their “progressive” approach to law enforcement.  Perhaps there will be some backpedaling from this nonsensical action, but I wouldn’t count on it.  To have even contemplated this supposed reform—which is simply a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card for felons—indicates that New York legislators are oblivious to street-level reality and have little concern for the safety of their constituents.

Occasional stupidity has always been the downside of our humanity, but I am not certain we have ever seen so much stupidity regularly exhibited by our decision makers and elites.  That so many supposedly smart people have such dumb ideas on a daily basis points to problems with both the obvious disconnect between academic credentials and practical knowledge as well as the consequences of groupthink that is enforced by the ongoing threat of social media shaming.

If you have been entrusted with the health, safety, or well-being of others, you sometimes have to risk alienating the herd by speaking up, even if you have to pay a personal or professional price for your unwelcome candor or refusal to comply.  In order to save ourselves—from ourselves—we all need to find the bravery and pluck to stand up and speak out with both our voices and our votes when we hear the siren song of seemingly plausible illogic.  To fail in this basic responsibility puts both us and our nation in great danger.

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