Thomas Sowell

 Alcohol takes huge numbers of lives every year, whether in automobile accidents, liver disease or innumerable foolish risks taken while "under the influence." Yet studies show that a very moderate daily intake of alcohol reduces hypertension and the incidence of dementia. Everything depends on how much.

 Trade-offs and diminishing returns are not the stuff from which heady visions and dramatic crusades are made. For that you need goals to be reached "at all costs" and a clash between heroes and villains. This appeals to the young and to those who remain adolescents all their lives.

 The realities of life force most of us to grow up, whether we want to or not. But for people protected from realities by being born rich, or by having lifetime tenure as academics or federal judges, maturity is optional.

 Many of the most extreme safety and environmental crusaders are rich busybodies or academics and their students, and they are often helped by judges whose rulings allow them to violate other people's rights while pursuing their own vision.

 The "thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to" have become a thousand reasons for lawsuits against those who produce anything that is not "safe."

 Nothing is categorically safe. But few things are as dangerous as those who are pursuing a safety vision that ministers to their egos, with the costs being paid by others.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate