I was reading a book about Will Rogers last night, and ran across one of his commentaries – written 94 years ago – that I think we could still take to heart today.
Here’s what he said:
Suppose around twenty-five years ago when automobiles were first invented, that, say, Thomas Edison, had gone to our government, and he had put this proposition up to them: “I can in twenty-five years time have every person in America riding quickly from here to there. You will save all this slow travel of horse and buggy.
“But,” says Mr. Edison, “I want you to understand it fully, in order to accomplish it and when it is in operation it will kill fifteen to twenty thousand per year of your women, children and men.”
“What! You want us to endorse some freakish invention that will be the means of taking human life! How dare you talk of manufacturing something that will kill more people than a war”? Why, we would rather walk from one place to another the rest of our lives than be the means of taking one single child’s life.”
But as it is, we go right on. Build ’em faster and get better roads. So we can go faster and knock over more of them. This is the age of progress.
Live fast and die quick.
(From The Wit and Wisdom of Will Rogers (1993), edited by Alex Ayres.
How does this apply to today’s circumstances?
It is a reminder that, left to their own devices without government interference, people are more than willing to make their own risk assessments.
“Let’s see,” they might ask. “Knowing that 36,560 people were killed in traffic crashes last year, do I want to drive my car today?”
“Let’s see,” they might ask. “Knowing that cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States each year, do I want to smoke today?”
“Let’s see,” they might ask. “Knowing that the life-saving surgery my doctor is proposing has a one-percent chance of ending in death, do I want to proceed anyway?”
“Let’s see,” they might ask. “Knowing that I’m healthy, and knowing that I could go bankrupt if I don’t go to work, do I want to go to work today? Which is worse? A slim chance of contracting coronavirus, or not being able to feed, clothe, house, or support my wife and children?”
Seems like a no-brainer to me.
The government has no business interfering in our lives this way.
If I’m 35 years old and want to go sky diving, that’s my business, not yours.
If I’m 45 years old and want to race in the Indianapolis 500, that’s my business, not yours.
If I’m 55 years old and have asthma and want to play bingo in a crowded room tonight, that’s my business, not yours.
If I’m 65 years old and being treated for cancer and want to go to a crowded bar for drinks tonight, that’s my business, not yours.
If I’m 75 years old and want to go on a cruise, that’s my business, not yours.
We have the right to make those decisions for ourselves.
Let us decide for ourselves!!