An excellent article on the greater good, and the ends justifying the means
Sheldon Richman at Reason has wowed me with a recent article. I will briefly excerpt as I normally do, but you owe it to yourself to read this thing. If you’re tired of political reporting and want to think about the important ideas, start here.
So why is the principle that the end doesn’t justify the means absent from most discussion of government policy? Why are political measures routinely defended on the sole basis that they will bring about some good consequence that supposedly outweighs the costs (from the perspective of those who propose them)? This happens all the time.
In all these cases and more, those who proffer the government policy seem to think that all they need do is identify a consequence as the “greater good” and the discussion is over. The end justifies the means. That may indicate one of two things. The proponent of the measure may think that the objective of the policy is more important than whatever those who are forced to pay for it must forgo as a result. Or the proponent may be oblivious of the costs entirely, as though there were none.
And thus solutions become problems.