Apparently an advocate of torture as practiced by agents of the US government. I will not go into a detailed review / analysis of his post – I would have not much new to add since earlier today. I will only comment on one line, his last line in the essay:
If we cannot see beyond the moment today, we will pay dearly tomorrow and in many more tomorrows.
To see beyond the moment requires some principle, something to believe in, future orientation, a set of values for guidance, culture.
Sowell knows well the value of culture. He can see beyond the moment when it comes to the various welfare and dependency programs of the US government. He can see what these do to the culture.
From Nuclear Deterrence, Morality and Realism, by John Finnis, Joseph M. Boyle, Jr., and Germain Grisez:
For even if one has a serious moral responsibility, one can be morally barred from using the only available means to fulfill it…. If one finds oneself in circumstances such that there is no moral way to discharge one’s positive duties, then one should not discharge them.
Even accepting Sowell’s far-fetched hypothetical – of which I am completely certain does not describe the situation of even one of the tortured detainees – the methods applied will both be shaped by and shape the culture.
Ideas have consequences; values have consequences; an accepted culture has consequences. A culture of constantly degrading, dehumanizing, and otherwise devaluing human life is a culture not long to survive. When something is not valued, there will be less demand for it, and the market will ensure that less is therefore produced. Simple economics.
Torture is just the latest discussion topic that demonstrates that this is the culture of today’s West. Valuing human life is not demanded; therefore, as time passes (beyond the moment), the market will ensure that this is reflected in all aspects of relationships.
This is Sowell’s shortsightedness; inexcusable for someone so well-versed in both economics and the social sciences.
(HT Laurence Vance)