"We Must Do Something"

© 2018 Jim Spence - The “We Must Do Something Syndrome” is one hell of a drug. You see it being abused everywhere and few people seem to understand how drug addiction is destroying developed nations all around the world.
The syndrome was perhaps best exposed in Ayn Rand’s classic book, “Atlas Shrugged.” In her epic work, Rand sheds light on what happens to a society when “We Must Do Something Syndrome” reaches the ultimate inevitability that is inherent with all false assumptions. Society sinks into a bureaucratic abyss, freedoms are curtailed, and living standards plunge.
Trace the history of “We Must Do Something Syndrome” and you will find it had a seemingly harmless beginning. Before civilizations organized, anarchy existed. And because civil human beings want to improve society they created government. On a limited basis, there are few things more useful than governments that reflect and protect the value of the individual and his or her fundamental freedoms.
Unfortunately, human beings tend to get caught in the trap that says anything worth doing is worth overdoing. The “We Must Do Something Syndrome” is mindful of the lazy physician who prescribes pills for every patient in a kind of knee jerk reaction. Accordingly, the grossly obese patient does not get a strict prescription to moderate his or her eating habits and do some daily exercise. Instead more pills are prescribed.
The process is simple really. Government tends to attract lawyers like rotting animal corpses attract vultures. Lawyers dominate every legislature and it should come as no surprise that lawyers are the chief beneficiaries of most of the actions of all legislatures. Another new law is the latest pill that lawyers prescribe for society. Anytime any problem arises, the “We Must Do Something Syndrome” demands that lawyers concoct a new rule, with even greater compliance details, that all of us should obey regardless of whether it solves a problem or simply creates a new one. The “We Must Do Something Syndrome” is based on the false notion that government must constantly accrue power over individuals through the passage of more and more laws, because individuals cannot solve most problems.
I was speaking with a big government advocate who is afflicted with “We Must Do Something Syndrome” many years ago. He asked about our business and what might help it most. I remarked that anytime there was someone somewhere in our industry who misbehaved, the lawyers in Congress or in our state legislature would not be content to demand enforcement of the current laws. Instead they felt almost compelled to concoct a new burdensome edict that would leave law abiding people doing more paperwork, without changing the fact there are crooks in society. Predictably, he was not the least bit sympathetic and the subject changed. However, a few years later this same individual, a retired school teacher, was heard preaching to us on how the court system and the trial lawyers in Congress were ruining public education with all their senseless rules and regulations. He spoke as if this were a unique flaw of the “We Must Do Something Syndrome.” Amazingly, he understood the fallacy of the viewpoint, but only when it came to analyzing the day-to-day plight of the school teacher. For all other endeavors, he cared not what havoc it created.
The “We Must Do Something Syndrome” is once again sweeping the nation. We are to believe that stricter gun ownership laws will prevent senseless killings. The evidence supplied by syndrome sufferers that this action would solve a problem isn’t flimsy. It is absurd.
Consider the country of Norway. Gun ownership is severely restricted in Norway. Unless one has officially documented a use for a gun, they cannot own one. Even the handling of guns for hunting and sports shooting are very strict. Self-defense is not a valid reason for owning a gun in Norway unless a citizen shows identification confirming that he or she is a trained guard or member of a law-enforcement agency. In Norway it is up to the local police chief to make a decision on whether a person can inherit weapons. With all of these rules, regulations, and bureaucracy, it is clear that the Norwegians “did something” to prevent mass killings.
History records that “We Must Do Something Syndrome” in Norway did not prevent a killer (Anders Behring Breivik) from slaughtering 77 people including 68 children in 2011.
Still, Americans are told by those infected with “We Must Do Something Syndrome” that we already have a safe society if we would just have stricter regulation of guns like Norway. They argue that nobody needs weapons except for law enforcement people. Let’s consider this argument.
Law enforcement has already been empowered by thousands of laws. The FBI received a very precise tip on the Parkland shooter last week. While the FBI bureaucracy easily consumed the resources it was allocated, it failed to act on a specific threat. Local law enforcement agencies were actually called to the Parkland shooter’s home dozens of times. And local law enforcement agencies were also told in precise terms about this killer. Like the FBI’s bureaucracy, the local law enforcement bureaucracy also consumed the resources it was allocated to address specific threats, but then failed to take action.
There was another layer of law enforcement failure in this Parkland shooting tragedy. There was actually an armed security guard on the campus at Parkland. The Miami Herald provided the details. It reports that the armed guard:
“…..was in another building, dealing with a student issue when the shots sounded. Armed with his sidearm, Peterson ran to the west side of Building 12 and set up in a defensive position, then did nothing for four minutes until the gunfire stopped…...”
The facts are clear. The “We Must Do Something Syndrome” sufferers are hopeless addicts. Their craving for new laws is simply the next pill they want to take in the hope of "feeling better." Put me down as someone who does not want to take their drug of preference and pretend it will cure what is ailing us.