by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
Douthat is leaping vast chasms of illogic, especially from the first paragraph to the second. Leave aside the problems of concluding something from the assertion that "what ultimately ails the world is its inherent imperfectibilityit's fallen character, if you like." Even if you accept this as a sufficient explanation, to conclude in the second paragraph that "this is true on all the great issues of the day" makes no sense. It's nonsense to say that no matter what our health care system or how many policy geniuses work away, "every gain will be an infinitely modest hedge against the wasting power of disease or death." (Translated: we all die sometime.) It makes a huge difference whether I can't have a heart transplant that gives me an additional ten or twenty years of life because Arizona's health care policy no longer pays for such operations.
And then, of course, the point he wants to prove (which is where his reasoning started, and worked backward to a rationale) is that no one in this imperfect world can "prevent the occasional madman from shooting up a parking lot." Well, if that's the case, why is it the "occasional" deaths from homicide with guns are much higher in the United States than in Europe?
Just because the world is imperfect and because we all die someday does not mean that it makes no difference whether we have a good health care system or a bad one, or whether we have a climate in which guns are readily available and homicide rates are much higher. To ignore such factors because the world is imperfect is using theology (bad theology at that) as a cloak for inaction or an excuse to shift attention away from hard questions.