The trial balloon of banning gas stoves is just another example of the progressive quest to eliminate risk from American society.
The political world has been in an uproar over the past week on account of a somewhat random topic: gas stoves. This whole news cycle revolved around the idea – mooted by Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. – of banning gas stoves due to their alleged harmful impact on health and indoor air quality. (I say alleged because the studies being cited are not at all solid.) Trumka, son of the famed union boss of the same name, stated regarding gas ranges that “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” Progressives rushed to the proposal’s defense, claiming that these newly-studied health risks are only part of the problem – gas stoves are also terrible for climate change. Several cities, including New York, have banned gas hookups in new buildings entirely, stopping the promulgation not only of gas-powered stoves, but also of gas heating and water boiling.
But more than anything it says about the media, progressive talking points, or the decline of scientific rigor, this whole gas stove brouhaha captures a major aspect of modern progressivism that is inherently un-American: the urge to guarantee “safety.”
It’s been almost two weeks since the destructive events of January 6 in our nation’s capital. As things have settled down some and the fog of war has partially lifted, I figured that it is time to share some of my thoughts on the events of that day and the fortnight following it. This post will touch on several different aspects of the riot, the coverage, and the aftermath, including overreactions and exaggerations. I don’t plan on trying to weave these thoughts together in a coherent and smooth narrative, as my opinions on these events don’t easily fit that paradigm; instead, I’ll go through a series of discrete views that hopefully will give you the full breadth of my feelings on this complicated subject.
The conflict over police abolition is essentially a fight over how we view humanity; in the battle between Hobbes and Rousseau, the Englishman wins.
Over the past few weeks of protests and civil unrest following the tragic killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, discussion of police brutality has been widespread and bipartisan. Politicians, journalists, and regular people across the ideological spectrum have come together around the idea that police reform is necessary. This is an excellent development, as any changes to American policing need to be generally popular with all groups to have any chance of being made permanent and accomplishing their goal of improving public safety for us all. Unfortunately, radical (and unpopular) ideas have come to dominate some aspects of this conversation, particularly on the political left. The idee du jour among American progressives is the concept of total police abolition, or in its slightly tamer variant, the defunding of the police. In this article, I am going to group these two somewhat different ideas under the same heading of police abolition for one major reason: those advocates for defunding of the police often see it as a step towards a wholly new model of public safety that does not involve policing at its heart. To me, this seems like a slower version of the more aggressive slogan of ‘abolishing the police’, so it is fair to lump them together when thinking in the abstract.