Monday, February 16, 2015

Gaining Sympathy

Some of you may recall the supposed motivation of state senator Liu in proposing a law requiring bicyclists of all age in the state to wear helmets: She had a nephew killed by a drunken driver in 2004. Setting aside the drunk driving, what I wasn't aware of until I read this story in the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat, was her nephew was WEARING A HELMET.

You would think she'd come up with a little more sensible example for proposing a law than pointing to a case where the victim was already doing what she wants. Then again, that's not the purpose of her example, is it? Her purpose is to gain sympathy. In that regard she might have some success, at least in this state.

"Not every human problem deserves a law." - Governor Jerry Brown


At 9:44 AM, Blogger Julie Timmons said...

What a pleasure to see you quoting Jerry Brown! His wisdom transcends party lines. Happy President's Day, Fred.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Nice quote. If he actually practiced that, I might feel differently about him. He's an average governor, but his support for the high speed rail boondoggle gives him a D or F from me. Never mind his signing of so many laws for all those human problems.

The quote is a good one, though.

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Liberal Man On Bike said...

In Ecuador in the late nighties, my brother and I and other tourists and locals were able to ride on the top of full bus along roads that would put 199 to shame in terms of curves.

I enjoyed it, no harm was done, and me and my brother made the choice to get up there. No losers right?

I guess the question is only where do we draw the line? I greatly lament the disappearance of high dives for example from public pools like Arcatas, but this is as much a problem with insurance companies as it is regulation.

So I think to put all these loss of freedoms - such as one's right to be an idiot and to ride on top of a bus or to ride a bike without a helmet against one political party is disingenuous. These are decisions we have made as a society with Democrats leading the way with great support from those with financial interests in insurance policies to ....

The bottom line is this. You and I are part of a population. Epidemiologically, fewer of us will come to harm if there are laws for us to wear safety belts or helmets. You can rabble rouse a bunch of people by decrying the nanny state, but in the end, the secret is that the politics of the nanny state rhetoric is really about reducing taxes and regulations so markets and capital can be free - not us.

We are still free to ride bikes without helmets. You just may get a fine. This makes sense though b/c that helmetless biciclist is costing us money - epidemiologically - which is to say on average. B/c on average, when that collision happens, their costs to themselves and our community will be much higher without that helmet than with it.

I know that doesn't sit well with the Western cowboy ethic that we are going to do what we want and pay the consequences of our actions ourselves.

That simply can't be the case anymore, we are all connected and depend on one another - locally, and globally and we are starting to grow up as a culture.

Maybe nanny's can help us along the path to grow to grow up beyond the libertarian college dorm room mentality- at least for wealthy country like the U.S. that might be able to afford one.

For the record Fred, in case you are not aware, I don't think anyone is contending that a helmet will save every life, like sadly it did not save Senator Liu's nephew. However, ask any paramedic on whether they would rather, all other things being equal, a collision victim be wearing a helmet or not, you and I both know the answer.

If not, here is the CDC from your link..."According to the Centers for Disease Control and Disease Prevention, California’s motorcycle helmet law prevented 26 deaths per 100,000 riders in 2010, while also saving an estimated $53 million in economic costs."

It's a tough argument to make and it's harder yet to know when to drawn the line. I guess at this point we all agree that we should regulate drunk drivers (otherwise why else would you put that aside) riding on the tops of buses and safetybelts.

Next will be bike helmets and rather than being the constitutional crisis that you make this out to be (ie a loss of freedom), it simply good policy. If it's not make the argument against it and good luck to you.

I'd be with you as you try to find a way to make high dives available again at public pools. We do need thrills in our society.

- from the poster formally known as Liberal Jon

At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to take HSR from SF to LA


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