Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I say shame, shame, shame, shame, shame, shame, shame, shame on you

A while back a Scott Sumner post titled American Shadows got me thinking about current practices, policies, and conditions in our society today that will horrify future generations. I have been planning on doing a post on it along with a sister post about current practices, policies, and conditions that will make future generations laugh, roll their eyes, and shake their heads. This week Sumner had another post along the same theme re-inspiring me. I have decided to combine the posts and will add to these lists as new items occur to me.

I grant that a case can be made for an item to be included on the opposing list or both lists. To the extent that this is a prediction (my primary goal), these are all arguable. To the extent that this is a personal commentary passing judgment on our society (a secondary goal), these are all again arguable, but for different reasons.

These are in no particular order, and I am concerned here with western society in general and the United States in particular. Considering the entire world would be a much, MUCH longer list.

Current practices, policies, and conditions in our society today that will horrify future generations:

  • Immigration restrictions
  • Trade policies
  • Drug laws and enforcement tactics
  • Treatment of homosexuals and homosexuality
  • Methods of the FDA, et al. 
  • Abortion as birth control
  • Pain treatment and management intolerance and limitations
  • Law and mores that have kept "amateur" athletes less than fully compensated (the case for this item being on this list is made when viewed in light of injuries and opportunity costs (two separate issues) that compound into life-long set backs). On this front there was a step toward justice today.
  • Updated: Our tolerance for torture and other harsh treatments including prolonged, indefinite detention.
Current practices, policies, and conditions that will make future generations laugh, roll their eyes, and shake their heads:
  • Government-monopolized postal delivery
  • Government-run schooling
  • Gambling restrictions
  • Liquor laws
  • Blue laws in general
  • Tax policy (could easily warrant a spot on the first list)
  • Regulations that aid existing businesses or other powerful interests
  • Our views on many facets of science:
    • Genetic alteration of plants and food
    • Genetic testing and alterations in humans
    • Cloning
    • Stem cell research
    • Our fears and understanding of climate change
  • Updated: The silly ways in which we attempt to be good stewards of the environment such as obsessing about carbon footprints and shallow rationing devices to attain some mythical "sustainability" while ignoring the price system.
  • Updated: Our fears of robots, machines, automation, AI, et al. This quote from a recent Econtalk with Kevin Kelly fits: "Your calculator is smarter than you right now in arithmetic. It doesn't freak you out just because it's a different kind of intelligence." 
Additions to come I'm sure . . .