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Illogic

Dear Editor:

The tortured logic of some public issue debate is sad.

Case in point: the Perfect is the Enemy of the Good. Because a piece of legislation will not guarantee 100 percent effectiveness, we should not even take the first steps toward solving the problem.

On the surface, this has all the appearance of caring about whatever problem is at hand, but is actually serves to scuttle any attempt to address the problem; a version of reactionary “futility rhetoric” (www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/may/23/albert-hirschman-original-thinker/?pagination=false).

Example 1. Because criminals will get guns, we should not enact new requirements for background checks. This is like saying that, because some will speed, we should not have speed limits; or since criminals will steal, theft should not be illegal. And complete the dislogic by ignoring polling data that indicated that 91 percent of all citizens, 88 percent of gun owners, and 86 percent of NRA favored universal background checks (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/guns-and-political-suicide/?hp).

Example 2. There is fraud in Medicaid, therefore we should not expand it to cover more citizens in need. Kind of like saying because there are potholes, we should not build new roads — not figure out why we have potholes and how to prevent them, just forget it. And, since a share of said fraud is perpetrated by providers, this also victimizes the victims (for example, see http://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/medicaid-fraud-control-units-mfcu/expenditures_statistics/fy2011.asp or http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-820 ).

Example 3. Making voting easier will make fraud easier. In fact, the more people that vote, the harder it is to rig the outcome. Plus, disregard data that suggests voter fraud is rare: some 2,068 reported cases of fraud in the past 12 years in all of the entire United States and D.C. (www.pewstates.org/research/analysis/election-fraud-85899414756). That’s 172 per year for 150,000,000 registered voters. Let’s make voting as easy as owning a gun.

I don’t expect much to change as preordained conclusions chase logic and data, but one can only hope.

Terry Pickett

This story was posted on May 23, 2013.