Here are some of examples from U.S. history where individuals suffered “in everyone’s best interest:”
- Sedition Act – censoring malicious writing against the government was in everyone’s best interest.
- Slavery- keeping the country united was in everyone’s best interest.
- Japanese, German, and Italian internment camps – national security was everyone’s best interest.
- Americanization of Native Americans – “civilizing” or a standard set of cultural values was in everyone’s best interest.
- Racial segregation – keeping races separate protected all races and therefore was in everyone’s best interest.
- Women’s suffrage – keeping a women in her separate, domestic sphere was in everyone’s best interest.
Its easy to look back on these and see the underlying dynamic of the majority rationalizing control of the minority. Keep in mind at some point, the majority passionately defended and protected all the above laws as being in everyone’s best interest.
Here are some current issues which claim to be in everyone’s best interest that ignore the impact on individuals and minorities:
- Gun Control Laws
- Defense of Marriage Act
- Bailouts for banks and auto industry
- Mandatory Health Insurance
- Sin taxes
- Illicit drug laws
- Deficit spending
If you can’t figure out who is, has been, or will be harmed by any of the items above, then you have fallen for the benefit of all argument. You have been blinded by the ends if you can’t see the harm of the means.
If are having trouble figuring out who has been harmed, ask yourself these questions:
- When is it OK for you specifically to be forced to do something against your will by the government?
- Where do taxes come from?
- Has someone ever threatened your life?
- Is there anything you do that is considered immoral by others?
- Should the majority do anything it likes?
The phrase in everyone’s best interest is often a red flag for bad legislation; because there is little government can do that is beneficial to all without bringing harm to at least one person. Its easy to rationalize just about any action for the benefit of all, as long as you completely ignore those harmed by the benefit.