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Some Undefined Terms

| March 4, 2021 1:13 PM

I was recently doing some reading about the impacts of certain government policies that were enacted in response to the coronavirus. During this time, I kept coming across the words “common good.” This statement is one that, to me, is of greatest concern because nobody has ever defined what exactly the “common good” is or means yet it is like the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” in the fact that it has been used to defend almost every big government action since the 1930s. Who exactly is it that decides what the “common good” is when proposing such government actions? What is good for one person may not be for another and, in most cases, what is described as being for the “common good” is typically only good for the small percentage of society and can negatively impact the rest. It’s as ludicrous as saying 9 out of 10 people prefer chess over checkers, but since checkers is significantly easier, chess is outlawed for the “common good.” This type of argument has been most recently used to allow men to compete in women’s sports. After all, 0.6% of the U.S. population (CDC) should be allowed to lawfully oppress millions of females for the “common good.”

Another term that baffles me is “livable wage.” What in the world does that mean and who exactly does it help if you define it in a dollar amount? I have to make a certain amount of money a year to pay the bills and feed my children. That is my “livable wage.” I have a good friend who can, and does, live just below the poverty line. He does this in comfort. He isn’t wanting for anything. I would go bankrupt on his “livable wage.” It never fails that every time a definition for “livable wage” is attempted in dollars, people lose their jobs. I’m sure those people found their old wage much more “livable” than no wage at all.

I also want to comment on the term “common sense.” It might be the single funniest axiom in current use. Although technically definable, it’s usage in our current social/political landscape makes it an unknown. To many, wearing a COVID mask is “common sense.” It is so because either the government said so (which is equally laughable), because recent studies suggest it, or just because. I love the recent studies defense. It’s as if the research has an air of quality to it. First, the recent studies only suggested something. Suggestion makes no fact. Second, of the research used to support this “common sense,” individual case studies make up the majority and these are what policies are based on. They are literally the worst quality evidence known to the scientific community and aren’t even peer reviewed. Meta-analysis research literally says that masks do nothing to prevent the spread of viral infection. Those are at the top of the quality pyramid. Policies have been based on the worst possible evidence available. How is that “common sense?”

DAVID CARLILE

Kingston