As the mental health debate - by which I mean the "why are we letting obviously crazy people run loose so they can shoot people in Tucson" hand-wringing comments, with no credible solutions offered - heats up, I direct readers to my recent post The Cost.
Here's the bottom line of the discussion: If I had met and interviewed Jared Loughner the day before the shooting, he would not have made the top hundred, maybe not the top thousand, of most-dangerous-sounding-people I have met. So all these calls for "better" mental health services for all these troubled people running around leads immediately to the two central questions, How many of those people - those false positives who are walking the streets of NH and haven't hurt anyone - do you want locked up or forcibly treated, even though they haven't done anything dangerous, just sounded dangerous? And Are you willing to pay for that? The upper number for the first question could run to a million people. The cost would be at least ten times, and more likely a hundred times more than we are paying now.
That's the reality. People blathering about the issue who don't recognise the scope of the problem, how many people we are talking about and how different the rights of a society are when you do that, really shouldn't be talking.
We have chosen our level of safety. It's not an accident, it's a reflection of a hundred cultural values.