The Precautionary President

One of the more Orwellian concepts of the Twenty-First Century has to be the so-called “Precautionary Principle”. The harmless-sounding concept is described by proponents as a simple extension of ‘better safe than sorry’, and is most commonly explained as actions taken in the absence of complete scientific proof when there is significant risk of serious harm if the action is not taken. Such advocates point out that this is similar to the reasoning for insurance, locking doors and inoculations – a small action taken to ward against more serious possibilities if you do ignore the danger. The disciples of Precautionism claim that they represent a reasonable sense of caution. And President Barack Obama has been an eager acolyte for the cause, whether the venue is Climate Change, American Imperialism, the Corporate Greed Culture, or the Need for More Guilt among Ordinary Americans. President Obama is all about “We Can’t Wait”.

The main problem is that the Precautionary Principle is self-contradictory in practice. The stated premise for the Precautionary Principle (PP for short), is that once a reasonable argument exists that a certain action is necessary to prevent a serious danger or likely event which would cause serious harm, it is necessary to act immediately to mitigate that danger. The reader may note that key words are ‘reasonable’, ‘necessary’, and ‘serious’ – all words which have subjective meanings. As a result, the decision on just when an argument is reasonable rather than merely an opinion, what defines the necessity of an action rather than its advocacy, and when the possible consequences of continuing on the present course are serious enough to require change are variables that even the most intelligent people may differ upon. Conclusive evidence has been the standard for many years, precisely because demonstrated proof of cause and effect, not only of the problem but of the proposed solution, is the only valid means for establishing a valid consensus. Anything else is no better than mob psychology. PP is self-contradictory, because in actual practice it is invariably applied to demand radical and risky change, on nothing more than emotional contention. It’s not that conclusive proof is not used in the theory, but that no real tipping point exists at all; the activists decide what they want to do and make what amounts to a mix of Chicken Little paranoia and Hitlerian thug tactics to get what they want.

PP’s self-contradictory practice can seen in how activists in the Ecology and Trade Regulation debates are demanding radical action with no substance whatsoever to either their claim of imminent danger, or that their demanded actions will have the effects they claim. Climate Change radicals, for example, not only refuse to provide defense of their sweeping claims of imminent catastrophe if humans don’t abandon their cars, living standards, and capitalism, they become apoplectic if anyone suggests they demonstrate how their proposed actions will actually improve the Earth’s climate to any extent – the theory of Climate Change is practiced as Modern Fascism, and there’s just no pretending otherwise. In fact, every major social effort based on PP is practiced in the Fascist mode, where government acts in thuggish manner to demand compliance, where evidence which contradicts the party line is suppressed and opponents marginalized and harassed, and where the true focus of the effort is political gain.

The Precautionary Principle guides Barack Obama in his major decisions. Rather than go to the trouble of weighing all of the rational options, their costs and known or likely effects, Obama simply chooses policies which benefit his friends and crafts his argument to support what he wanted to do in the first place, as was the case with the first Stimulus Bill – almost a trillion dollars stolen from the American people in order to help his cronies. When he does not have a chosen plan, Obama listens to the people who can make or break him to make his decision, which is why he is having such trouble coming up with a plan for Afghanistan or how to address consumer confidence. Like the Precautionary Principle, Obama is not concerned with the evidence in any major issue, nor with the cost of his intended actions, since he plans for others to pay for his policies.

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