Having Strong Opinions When You Don’t Have Much Stake in the Outcome

2018-05-21 – People in this country have a lot of opinions.

In the world of politics, most of us don’t have much of a personal stake in a lot of the issues being debated, but we have opinions nevertheless. The beauty of this fact is that we’re not often directly harmed if The System adopts our view of things.

The other beautiful thing about politics these days is that our opinions usually count for nothing in the policy making that occurs in Washington or the state house or city council.

These twin facts explain a lot about the political debate in this country.

Take guns, for example. The greatest hysteria in the gun debate is about the type of risk that is LEAST LIKELY TO OCCUR: the mass shooting.

Don’t get me wrong. Mass shootings are awful, heart-wrenching events. And yes, we have more of them than other countries. But this is a big country. According to the Business Insider, you have a 1 in 11,125 chance of dying in one of these. This is a lifetime stat, not a per-year stat. This article lists dozens of ways you could die that are more frequent.

One of these is suicide (1 in 92), ordinary murder (1 in 315), and assault by gun (1 in 315).

In my opinion, the low odds of suffering any consequence from mass shootings, frees us to espouse any kind of wacky theory. The low odds convert the debate over gun regulation into a mere sporting event.

You’re either on the gun control team or the 2nd amendment team. If it’s a sporting event, you don’t need to be serious about working anything out. You don’t need to listen to the other side. You don’t need to explore options. You don’t need to be real at all.

Gun control isn’t the only issue that’s like this.

In some ways, our dysfunctional political system is a result of a lot of people having it too good.

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