Quote of the Day: On Safetyism


“The nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one.” – Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton wrote this in the context of the Quasi-War with France and the Barbary Wars against North African states. A nation unwilling to defend its rights and borders soon gets conquered by foreign states and ends up ruled from afar. Or, having paid the Dane-Geld, discovers they never get rid of the Dane.

But it also applies more broadly, especially to the cult of safetyism which has swept the county. The lockdowns and mask mandates of the last year demonstrate a preference to disgrace over the trivial danger of the Wuhan Flu. (And yes, its danger was trivial, especially to several hundred million US citizens under the age of 60.  Its risks of fatality were largely limited to those over the age of 75. Even then death rates for those infected were far lower than historical epidemics, such as cholera, typhoid, and yellow fever.) We continue to torture our children with masks and social distancing when they are at almost no risk from the disease and seemingly acquire lifetime immunity if they contract the typically mild cases experienced below the age of 18.

You can never be too safe is a philosophy that leads to people ceding their rights to masters. Worse, it leads to ceding other people’s rights to masters. Yet it is far too prevalent in today’s United States. Unchecked, it will lead to tyranny. A tyranny, which as Hamilton put it, is deserved.

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  1. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno

    I read a good book on how societies form around certain moral foundations and safety was one of those aspects. The modern west has taken this to an extreme, more than any society in history. There has to be some concern for safety, but tilting things exclusively in that direction causes problems. A society too focused on safety becomes incapable of handling conflict. The moral foundation of liberty suffers when you exclusively focus on safety.

    • #1
  2. KentForrester Moderator

    I enjoyed your post, Seawriter, and enthusiastically agree with its thesis. 

    • #2
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens

    I am tired of people telling me “Stay safe!” as a good bye. 

    No, I am not going to “stay safe”. I am going to take risks. 

    • #3
  4. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    I enjoyed your post, Seawriter, and enthusiastically agree with its thesis.

    What you said.

    • #4
  5. She Reagan

    I’d posit that “foolish safetyism” is, like “foolish consistency,” the hobgoblin of little minds.  And boy howdy, those little minds have been much in evidence in the nation’s capital and in many statehouses over the past eighteen months.

    I like the idea of rational safety, which, by my lights recognizes the risks inherent in much of what we do, and which acts reasonably and rationally to mitigate them.  I suppose that the problem arises when my “reasonable and rational” (which is both) runs up against someone else’s, which is neither.


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  6. TreeRat Inactive

    Concern with safety is fine, but it is a concern at the personal, family, group, company, …, level; not at the National, State, County, City, any political level.

    Bottom up, not top down.

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  7. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Again, I find myself in agreement with your post. Safety has become too much of a priority, and a top priority when it shouldn’t be. For example, the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC had signs posted saying “your safety is our top priority.” And I thought, no, no, no! That’s not why I drove 1.5 hours out of my way on twisty mountain roads to see this amazing mansion. The visit and the views delivered, and the guides were all lovely and helpful. That’s why I went. If I wanted to stay safe, I most definitely would have stayed at home. And after 2020, I had enough of that already!

    • #7