The greatest unhappiness of the greatest number 4

Arguments for totalitarianism are crowding thick and fast on one another as the Left grows daily more arrogant, and at the same time more afraid that its days in power may be coming to an end.

The latest to reach our ears issue insistently from a Princeton professor, Peter Singer. He has worked himself up, like Michelle Obama, over the shape of other people’s bodies, how much they eat, and what they weigh. Also over manmade global warming. Also over an itch he has to redistribute your money to foreigners.

The aim of people who think like Professor Singer is to set up a global Politburo, consisting of control freaks like him, to keep the rest of us doing what they know is right for … for what or whom? For the planet. Yes. And for … for … whatever. Never mind for what or whom. The point is you must be controlled by those who know better than you what’s best for you. Your betters.

Okay, so maybe you won’t like it. No one is promising you that you’ll like it. Why should you? Stop being so selfish as to believe you have a right to pursue your personal happiness. You must do what you’re told for the Greater Good, for Society, for the human and geographical world as a whole.

This is from Front Page, by Daniel Flyn:

Flyers feeling violated by airport x-ray scanners or TSA pat-downs may find a new proposal just too heavy an intrusion. A professor wants to add scales to airports for carriers to weigh passengers. The pounds on the scale would determine the price of the ticket.

“Is a person’s weight his or her own business?” Peter Singer asks in a Project Syndicate article. “Should we simply become more accepting of diverse body shapes? I don’t think so. Obesity is an ethical issue, because an increase in weight by some imposes costs on others.” The Princeton bioethicist notes that a plane’s load factors into the fuel it consumes.

But some 747s weigh 1,000,000 pounds. Does the 230-pound woman sitting in 11C really make such a big difference?

Singer tacitly admits it doesn’t by shifting the discussion away from the ostensible subject of the piece, fat passengers weighing us down with heavy fuel costs, to eclectic matters more germane to his interests. The bioethicist argues that the increased fuels burned to propel large people to their destinations emit a spare tire of greenhouse gases around the earth, which contributes to global warming. He further justifies elephantine ticket prices for rotund travelers by noting the corpulent health-care costs of obesity. Singer reasons, “These facts are enough to justify public policies that discourage weight gain.”

The unfocused reasoning is a staple of the Australian’s argumentation. He finds no “ethical distinction between a Brazilian who sells a homeless child to organ peddlers and an American who already has a TV and upgrades to a better one” since the money for the better television could have been used to help homeless Brazilian children.

What a reasoner he is! You have to admire the breadth of his vision, his capacity to connect widely separated and apparently disparate events.

He argues for a $30,000 cap on income to pay for life’s necessities but not its luxuries.

Who will decide what is necessary? They will.

Luxuries – ugh! (Remember, for all their talk of tolerance in sexual matters, they are the new puritans.)

He wants to take away the right to bear arms, to smoke tobacco, and even the right to life for babies.

Babies are a luxury?

In Rethinking Life and Death [!], he writes that “in the case of infanticide, it is our culture that has something to learn from others, especially now that we, like them, are in a situation where we must limit family size.”

He hasn’t noticed, or has chosen to ignore the fact that fertility rates are sinking so low that whole nations – Russians, Italians, Spaniards … – are dwindling to extinction.

While he advocates legalizing the murder of newborns, Singer condemns eating hamburgers, imprisoning whales at Sea World, and what he describes as the Auschwitz-like conditions of chicken coops.

Feeling sorry for chickens has been an emotional staple of the anti-human lobby for the last half century or so.

“Many of us are rightly concerned about whether our planet can support a human population that has surpassed seven billion,” Singer concludes in the Project Syndicate piece. “But we should think of the size of the human population not just in terms of numbers, but also in terms of its mass. If we value both sustainable human well-being and our planet’s natural environment, my weight — and yours — is everyone’s business.”

If such a private matter as one’s weight is the public’s business, then the question arises as to what, precisely, remains one’s private business? One’s finances, one’s weight, one’s choice of doctor, one’s plasma-screen television, and even the meat on one’s plate all become the business of Big Brother in Singer’s expansive vision of the state. Singer’s is the logic of totalitarianism. Since any private action can be rationalized as having a public consequence, all becomes the interest of the government. Singer advocates copious limits on private behavior. Where are the checks on the state’s gargantuan appetite?

The enormous arrogance required to force people onto scales as a prerequisite to boarding a flight is a natural consequence of Singer’s philosophy. The Ivy League philosopher is an heir to the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill …

“The greatest happiness of the greatest number” is the phrase used to sum up utilitarianism. But you can’t achieve a compilation of a commodity where there isn’t any of it to compile.

If everyone in the grand scheme is personally unhappy – except of course the members of the Politburo who will have their dachas, their special stores, their limos, their engorged egos – there won’t be a general happiness. But never mind. Thing is, the rest of us will be equally unhappy.

Ah, drab new world that has such monsters in it!

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  • Liz

    It’s because we opened the door to the whole idea of a “compassionate” government nanny that people like this, who are the very opposite of compassionate, have gotten in and are basically running the show now.  If we don’t get them out in this next election, it will be a drab new world indeed.  

  • Brian

    As a liberal, let me say this: Peter Singer is crazy, plain and simple.  He may be trying to argue for certain ethical claims, but they don’t add up.

  • http://themoonshinesbrighter.wordpress.com/ Andrew M

    I usually think that Americans are too smart to willingly forgo their liberty so readily, but then again I fear I think too optimistically. A massive campaign of re-education has our children – your children – my generation hoodwinked into detaching itself from the history of the “liberty” concept.

    On the one hand, we have the brightest and most talented generation yet. We are on the forefront of amazing scientific discoveries that our fathers and mothers cannot even comprehend, and we are rejecting the spooky superstitions of religious dogma at increasingly reassuring rates. Yet as far as political thinking is concerned, we are one of the weakest generations yet.

    Yes, my generation sometimes makes the right call on things such as opposing the horrible War on Drugs and endorsing civil unions for any two consenting adults, but their exposure to such a new world has detached them significantly from their history, especially when it comes to the “liberty” concept and the squalid, fearful conditions prehistory. We not tenacious enough to defend all of our liberties against government intrusion because we have no idea what the effects of government intrusion feel like. Tolerance transforms into ignorance transforms into complacency. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it….

    The dual ideological threats of Leftism and Islam serve as our rock and our hard place, and we have no idea that we’re being stoned by socialism and sharia (sorry, there won’t be more pleasant forms of “stoning” under God’s will).

    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We
    didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought
    for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we
    will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s
    children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
    – Ronald Reagan

    • George

      Liberalism is a demented psychosis !