At What Cost?

This is an interesting question, especially when looking at societal goals or policies. If we think about it, we rarely want to reach an absolute. This is because the cost related to achieving an absolute will outweigh the benefits.

For sure, a society with zero murders, or zero crime in general, can sound like a utopia. But how would it be implemented in practice?

The cost of having zero murders would have to be constant surveillance, restrictions on movements, perhaps some type of ankle bracelet connected to a network of cameras that cover both the streets of your city and also every single interior, including your house. These cameras have systems that can detect when a murder is going to take place, and the ankle bracelet can then shock the would-be-murdered into unconsciousness.

Or, we can live with more freedom and have a modest amount of murder. It is often not comfortable to speak in these terms, but there will always be tradeoffs.

Eliminating government corruption down to the last cent may be more wasteful and inefficient than allowing some corruption to happen.

Ensuring 100% certainty for anyone who is convicted and sentenced to prison for a crime may cause a lot more problems than it solves.

Living a perfectly healthy lifestyle may cause you more mental health issues than the occasional cheat day and missed workout.

So we can never just look at a goal or potential outcome and consider it in isolation. We need always to ask the question:

At what cost?

PS: I later wrote a full-length essay.

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