Furthest Right

More Use of Justification to Avoid Asking About Our Goals

Forward thinking sets a goal and moves toward it by whatever methods are needed, starting out with the least disruptive because doing so is the most efficient and lowest risk. Reversed thinking — rationalization — establishes “safe” methods and then forces every action to justify itself as an instance of one of those.

Any society which operates by aristocracy has forward thinking. This group determines what is best for the nation, seeing itself as part of the nation, an organic entity comprised of a single ethnic group sharing a culture. Then they do whatever is necessary to achieve that.

Post-aristocracy societies rely on methods to restrict each other and their leaders from becoming abusive. This innately casts aside the concept of goal, and replaces it with method (means-over-ends). This parallels the confusion that leads to this place, confusing cause (low IQ) with effect (poverty), and trying to alter the effect directly.

Relying on means-over-ends naturally leads to justification because when there are only some approved methods, everything you need to achieve must get shoehorned in under one of them. If you can claim that what you want to do is merely an already-approved method, no one can credibly oppose your plan, at least.

We can see how well this turns out in a tale of two justifications that lead us into confusion:

A dramatic rise in accidents killing or injuring pedestrians and bicyclists has led to a myriad of policy and infrastructure changes, but moves to ban right on red have drawn some of the most intense sentiments on both sides.

Parallel to scapegoating, justification requires creation of a harm to whatever you want to replace or remove. Then it requires an idol, talisman, or sacred cow which will be advanced by the action. Combine these two and you have something others are afraid to reject but face no consequences for accepting.

In this case, they trot out the victims. Pedestrians and bicyclists have been killed or injured! This demands immediate action, especially since in the pecking order of the road, this group represents the vulnerable, less affluent, and less powerful compared to big old cars and trucks.

However, justifications lend themselves to cherry-picking, which means finding data to fit the thesis instead of a thesis to fit the data. How many pedesterians and bicyclists were injured or killed? It turns out that very few actually faced these outcomes, but for the purpose of argument, since some did then an exception exists to the rule, and individualism commands that we pay attention to the exception (the weak) and momentarily ignore everyone not affected (the strong):

Jay Beeber, executive director for policy at the National Motorists Association, an advocacy organization for drivers, called it a “fallacy” to assume such blanket bans would make streets safer.

He cited an upcoming study by his association that analyzed California crash data from 2011-2019 and found that drivers turning right on red accounted for only about one pedestrian death and less than one bicyclist death statewide every two years.

“What’s really behind this movement is part of the agenda to make driving as miserable and as difficult as possible so people don’t drive so much,” Beeber said.

In the view of this expert, the anti-right-on-red movement exists to make driving more miserable. This is important because it is as close as someone gets to stating the core of the argument, which is that driving is less onerous if you can turn right on red.

Instead people rely on justifications. Ironically, the right-turn-on-red movement began with another shaky justification, namely that it saved fuel at a time when fuel prices were shooting through the roof in the 1970s. Since “saving energy” became a new universal justification, lawmakers used it to get us right-on-red privileges:

Concerned that cars idling at stop lights could compound an energy crisis, the U.S. government warned states in the 1970s that they could risk some federal funding should cities prohibit right on red, except in specific, clearly marked areas. Although another energy-conscious provision capping speed limits at 55 mph has long been abandoned, right on red has endured.

An ends-over-means thinker would simply point out that anything to reduce the boredom, slowness, and frustration of driving makes for a better life. Reducing the pain of anything and making people more capable of achieving what they need improves life and makes people less likely to go nuts.

However, that approach is too direct for democracy because it forces us to state goals. Justification on the other hand is passive and defers to social popularity, so it is always the easy choice for people who just want problems to magically vanish and become someone else’s responsibility.

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