I was reading the Congressional Research Service’s The 2009 Influenza Pandemic: Selected Legal Issues (PDF available at www.pandemicfluonline.com), and got as far as the second page where it says:
…the 2009 influenza pandemic may raise a classic civil rights issue: to what extent can an individual’s liberty be curtailed to advance the common good?
Now, you just know they’re gonna get right down to the meat of things and come up with the rationale for all sorts of limitations on individual liberty for the “common good.” It’s awfully hard to argue against the common good, isn’t it? Even I wouldn’t take that one on. This whole blog is about the common good.
Well, just who gets to determine what the common good is anyway? The same crew currently running things? If political or monetary gains are to be had by promoting their idea of common good, how trustworthy is their determination going to be? Can an elite’s version of common good be either common or good?
Lots of room for argument there! Allow me to step in…
Postpeak’s proposal for establishment of an Unassailable Agenda assumes there is such a thing as common good, though it’s continually ignored in favor of uncommon good. Postpeakpublishing is founded on the idea that a continued advance of the common good would bring humankind ever closer to new heights of civilization. Troubling indeed that the heights seem to be receding into the distant past!
Actions speak louder than words. Thus apparently, our leaders are willfully (or perhaps coerced into) leading us away from the common good, as small numbers of individuals and corporations with deep pockets are allowed to direct policy. The common good is diametrically opposed to giving tens of trillions of dollars as well as increased powers over government and economy to the creators of the biggest recession/depression in history. The common good is not very likely to include secretly overthrowing sovereign governments for mere corporate advantage. How about killing millions of a foreign country’s innocent civilians on the pretense that we don’t like how their dictator treats them (or some other false reason)? Not very common goodly.
Commoners’ voices are dealt with in numerous ways, the rarest by far being sincere listening. A Million Man March addressing issues relevant to African Americans was marginalized in the press as “a bunch of radicals”, although it consisted of over 850,000 protesters. Law enforcement agencies routinely place agent provocateurs inside otherwise peaceful demonstrations for an excuse to break skulls and quell future protests.
It’s not in the public’s interest to raise allowable levels of arsenic in drinking water nor mercury in air. It’s not doing the public good any good to prop up gigantic vampirical financial companies that don’t produce anything. It’s not good to immunize pharmaceutical companies from legal remedy to damages caused by their products. It’s not good, common or otherwise, to acquiesce to HMOs sucking the lion’s share of money out of the health care system without inputting any actual health care. It’s not common good to purposely “dumb down” the population to better hoodwink them. Every one of these issues was introduced as somehow being in the interest of the common good. So who’s going to determine the common good now, and by doing so justify stripping the commoners of their remaining remnants of liberties?
Are “unapproved medical treatments and tests” in the public’s interest? No? Well then, just require their administration by law! And we’ll justify the law by claiming it’s for the public good!