Marc Carlisle: Our basic rights include life, liberty and the ability to make mistakes
On the Marc
One basic principle that I hold self-evident is that people are entitled to make their own mistakes. Once we reach adulthood between the ages of 18 to 21, unless society can prove some form of mental defect, we can poison our bodies with alcohol, tobacco, incurable viruses, or choose a diet that an animal would refuse. We can kill, with intent or by accident or in a fit of rage, and decide for ourselves at what point life a human life begins.
We can make a better informed decision on a television that on a home, invest for retirement based on a 10 second evaluation overhead on the television, and apply for and accept credit, all with the understanding that as adults, we will accept the consequences, good or bad, for our actions. Since people are entitled to make their own mistakes, I have no sympathy, none, for folks who signed on to subprime mortgages, and are now losing their homes.
I have no tolerance at all for the millions of parents who have allowed childhood obesity to reach certified epidemic proportions in this country, along with heart disease and AIDS. I do not believe in abortion, but I vigorously support the right of a mother to make a mistake, either by having an unwanted child or terminating an unwanted pregnancy, with the understanding that she is responsible for the consequences, either in this life or the hereafter.
But while individuals are entitled to make mistakes, let’s be clear that any group, civic, governmental, or social, is not granted the same consideration, because the mistakes of the majority fall equally on the minority. While one person is likely to employ common sense, two will take four times as long to reach a decision half as good, and so on. The more individuals involved in a decision, the worse the decision is likely to be, until enough people are involved that no decision is possible and no action taken. Developing a plan for I-70 westbound from Denver to Vail is a case in point. You and I know that traffic is bad, but you and I know that the congestion is an avoidable inconvenience.
It’s a problem we could overcome without spending a cent by leaving earlier, leaving later, or not making the trip at all by ourselves. On more than one occasion, I’ve playing golf in Denver with a foursome of friends, each of us arriving separately for a social four hours on the course. We know that a third lane would be an engineering marvel likely to take two decades to complete at a cost of $15 billion plus. We know that the construction phase will only slow the drive, and that once construction is complete, a single accordion player behind the wheel of a car, charging up then braking back, switching lanes abruptly in hopes of saving a car length, or blocking out a vehicle trying to change lanes, can wipe out the gains of twenty years and billions of dollars.
In bad weather, the three lanes leaving the tunnel westbound compress to two, and we can expect the same anywhere on I-70 when complete. One person empowered to decide whether to spend the time and money to accommodate a bad habit and driver intransigence, would make that and accept the consequences. Only a group, insulated from the consequences of their choice, would choose to spend money and time on such a scale rather than simply insist drivers share a ride, take the bus, or leave a little later.
But won’t the tourists who have made Summit County all that it is today go elsewhere without instant gratification? Tourists abhor icky old buses, so the considered group alternative is a fixed guide rail system that has no precedent and whose justification rests on the same considerations driving a third lane to I-70. We each know that guide rail service would still necessitate a bus at the start or at the end of the journey, and that at a $100 a head a train is elitism.
An individual would tell the elite snob to charter a helicopter and fly direct from airport to resort. How about that? A third lane or a train is a choice made possible only by a group that expects to foist the consequences on everyone. I will accept the consequences of driving I-70 at 4 p.m. on a Sunday, but at decades and billions I draw the line.
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