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Leftism and the Dangers of Modernity

The futile quest to save us from ourselves.

Michael Widlanski


January 13, 2013 - 12:00 am
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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes outlawing large sodas will somehow reduce obesity, and so he pushed an edict banning sugar-containing drinks of sixteen ounces or more: “This is the single biggest step any city, I think, has ever taken to curb obesity” said Bloomberg, without having the rational basis for such a statement.

This scattershot approach of legislating every aspect of modern life has never worked. Alcoholism and drunkenness lead to crime and death, but the constitutional amendment prohibiting all liquor was a disaster.

A rational approach: narrow the focus and tighten enforcement, linking it to specific abuse or misuse of a product. Allow alcohol, enact tough penalties for drunk driving.

Do not infringe on the right to bear arms, but crack down hard on illegal gun trafficking and possession by criminals.

As for murder by subway train, gun, or rock: incarcerate or execute murderers. We do not stop arson by banning fire. We try to limit the damage of fires by controlling accidental fires, by teaching people how to extinguish campfires, and by advising people not to smoke in bed. We try to curb deliberate arson by punishing arsonists, not by demonizing those who rub two sticks together for a spark.

We need fire, much like we need subways and guns and the rest of modernity.

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Dr. Michael Widlanski is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat. He is a former reporter, correspondent, and editor respectively at the New York Times, Cox Newspapers, and the Jerusalem Post. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel's Ministry of Public Security, and now teaches at Bar Ilan University.
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