RE: Tough Questions

Billy Brown (
Wed, 1 Sep 1999 23:37:50 -0500

Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> To live in a free society, you must trust first in yourself to act
> responsibly, and if you beleive that people are more or less equal, you
> should be prepared to trust your fellow man an equal amount. Do you
> trust yourself with an atomic warhead? Would you hold a nation hostage
> to get what you want? If you trust yourself to not abuse such power you
> must trust your fellow man to not abuse such power.

Mike, I usually agree with your posts, but I have to take issue with you on this one. Your point is well taken with regard to one-on-one interactions, but when you start talking about large groups of people you have to take into account the fact that some small percentage of them definitely *will* be irresponsible. That brings you to the question of benifit vs. harm (i.e. if 99.9% of all users of X benifit, and 0.1% do something stupid with it, is the net result good or bad?). With most hazardous goods (dynamite, hand guns, printing presses) the harm that one nut can do is relatively small, so I don't see much of a case for government regulation. With a few items (nuclear weapons, and anything with similar destructive potential) the harm that a single nut can cause is much, much greater than the combined benifits of all the possible peacefull uses. If you could buy a nuke at the corner gun store some of those 'climb-the-tower-and-shoot-pedestrian' nuts would use them, and the annual death toll would likely be well into the millions.

If you want to allow private ownership of nuclear weapons, you need to move society into space so that you don't have to live within the blast radius of half a million basements.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I