40 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. @Sam

    If the law’s proponents could only promise that the individual concerned would benefit, and if it was clear that the person wasn’t being unduly influenced by others, then I would, no matter how much extra welfare was being promised to that individual.

    What if the “individual” was a baby? A child? Mentally retarded? Irrational? Prone to foolishness? All of us are prone to making stupid decisions.

    There is no firm line here, eg, many children make better decisions than adults. The concept of the “generic individual” having a thing called a “right”is in itself a mythology. Mythologies have their uses, but assuming that they have an absolute reality is fraught.

    The fact that the person might feel upset about the perceived loss of freedom, or that other parties (eg, you) might feel upset that someone’s rights are being infringed are material considerations but they are only some of the elements that need to be weighed up. As are: the prospect for saving people from brain damage or death, saving families and others the emotional, financial and other costs of having a dead or brain damaged member, costs to the community, overall impact on cyclist numbers and community health, etc. AFAICS, it all goes in the mix. Of course, in practice these things might be difficult to calculate, or disputed, so we often have to rely on “truthy” ideas that people float, but in principle we should be doing the best possible – if messy – calculation to optimise community welfare.

    I don’t see you have proved or demonstrated any privileged weighting to your belief that people should be allowed to do what they want to themselves. Sure, it’s relevant, important even, but imperative, no. Absolute requirements require strong arguments and from my reading you haven’t done much more than made a declaration.

  2. Blimey even the BBC reckons Rudd is plotting a comeback
    If it comes to naught I hope some members of the journalism profession break ranks and examine how their colleagues wasted so much time on a non-issue.

    On the other hand if the reverse coup actually happens then I for one will not be voting for Big Australia and the cancelled ETS. Might as well clone Abbott and make either original or clone the ALP leader. In the evident of Rudd as leader in 2013 I’ll split my Reps vote between Greens and some extremist party, purely in the interests of balance.

  3. @Jim Birch
    I thought I made clear before that my “individual” refers only to a non-institutionalised adult.

    I also dealt with the point about externalised medical costs.

    I agree, I haven’t proved anything. For me, this is just a moral axiom. If you don’t agree with me, I’ll I’ll .. think that you’re wrong.

  4. There is an automatic reduction of freedom in a crowded world.

    A crowded world where the individual and their choices can have a disproportionate social cost – simply due to the number of people the person can negatively impact on or the aggregate cost of allowing infinite personal decisions with social costs.

    If you were the only person in Australia then there would be no law against collecting wildflowers, pretty rocks from the bush, starting fires or wearing a bike helmet.

    When there are 22 million and a fire can destroy many lives it gets banned and you get force applied to stop you or punish you after the event.

    In a crowded world a rational person will see that individual choices to do things which seem a personal responsibility actually, in the broader context, are a social act.

    Not wearing a bike helmet creates substancial economic activity about the subsequent crash and funeral or the many years of managed care before death after serious permanent brain damage. But this activity would be better employed on a number of other people vs that one individual. Assume the society will not punish the non helmet wearing person by non action to save of repair their life.

    Aggregate this choice across the number of individuals who will choose to not wear a helmet and the helmet law becomes a logical imposition on personal freedom. The side effect is, I agree, a nanny state, but there are many foolish people out there who would impact on my freedom of action if we don’t all behave.

    In a crowded world it’s a trade off and freedom is always the ultimate casualty of our freedom to breed.

  5. One would think that a person without gravel in their brains would be considerably more free than a person with gravel in their brains. For example, free to voluntarily move their limbs as they wished, free to walk, free to tie their shoe laces, free to control their pooping, and so on.

  6. @Hermit
    the pity of it is that with the american evangelist at the head of the ABC “our” publically funded institution is now a fully functioning member of the gossip and gas sphere.

    hopefully not for too much longer.

  7. re helmets for bike riders.

    personal opinion only.

    ride in traffic–wear a helmet.
    sit and pass a road rules and skills assessment the same as every other road user.
    in other words get a licence.
    if you get bowled by a car (or truck or bus) and land on your head,that should be alright,mind,the rest of you probably won’t be but it’s the thought that counts.

    riding in traffic as far as i’m concerned is dicing with death and must be a source of constant anxiety for drivers of motorised vehicles.
    all over the place and really fast and hard to see,zipping through lights and so on.

    other bike users who are in no hurry and using the pavement give way to foot traffic,wheel chairs,gofers and prams.the chances of being knocked off in those circumstances shrink to around zero.helmet not neccessary.

  8. I feel like I’ve responded to all the arguments now. Would anyone think I was running from a fight if I bowed out? If someone has a new criticism, I would of course like to hear it, but I don’t like to waste time rehashing old opinions.

  9. @Ikonoclast
    And I just noticed your response. The term “tyranny of the majority” isn’t meant to be hysterical. The tyranny could be quite mild. It’s just a political phrase invented by Alexis de Tocquevville to describe situations where democracy can cause an unjust result. I used it as a simple label to refer to what I thought was a well known political theory.

    I say these laws are immoral and unjust, because they can’t be justified using any “social welfare” function that I recognise as moral. I don’t think they’re egregiously evil or anything, but to my mind the world could be clearly improved if they were scrapped.


    I don’t oppose the seatbelt and helmet laws BECAUSE corporations have an interest in selling us seatbelts and helmets. Far from it. I ignore that trivial fact. No, I oppose them because no corporations have an interest in coercing us to be UNSAFE. That’s the source of distinction between cigarettes and pokies on the one hand, and seatbelts and helmets on the other.

    Ok, now I’m out, unless there is something more.

  10. @Ernestine Gross
    Err, yes, which is why I support legal restrictions on them. I’m now getting the feeling I haven’t made myself clear.

    Laws to restrict personal behavior so as to improve that person’s well-being where behavior is significantly influenced by interested parties=possibly good.

    Laws to do the same thing where interested influence is absent=always bad.

  11. but. but.

    without the helmet laws the only buyers would be the ones riding in traffic and parents who insist their children wear one.

    the market would collapse.
    and the sellers would not regard that as trivial,seeing as they didn’t have much of a market until helmets became mandatory.

  12. @may
    Hi May,
    I don’t agree that this would happen. Almost all the cyclists I know wear helmets for safety, not because of the law.

    Even if it did happen though, Australia is operating at close to capacity, and is not in a liquidity trap, so Say’s law roughly applies. If people stopped spending money on helmets, they’d spend it on something else. Why privilege one group of producers over another?

  13. @Troy Prideaux

    A reply for your comment in the austerity thread.

    My thoughts on your some of your questions:

    I believe that selfishness, self pride and group think has an effect on why I believe so too on people are being more naive and less open minded to opposing arguments is from. People studying biased education materials from the current education system mainly economics related studies has learnt ideas and materials and they do not want to admit that they are wrong even if no evidence backs their claim. People will be selfish if they make income out of advocating for the ideologies of the neoclassical theories (applies to indirectly benefited people as well such as people working in the finance industry). The people without economic knowledge of any sort will just follow what the media tells them since they believe thats the universal agreed side they should take and anyone that oppose it is advocates for the evil of some sort.

    Another thing affect it is the side effects of pressure of the education system in the world; nearly every single asian student I personally know or befriend with possess extremely great deal of knowledges but lacks or holds nearly none logical and critical thinking. It happens because of study pressure of 6-7 days a week of schooling/tutoring from 6am- 8pm. This pressure creates a normal human behaviour of the students that lives in those society to use nearly all their brain exercise to remember the things they learnt and the tireness from that affect their will of thinking or researching about the thing they are learning is actually right or wrong. For this I oppose the thought of needing to catch up with the so called “education level” with the asian countries.

    Because of the reason above people thesedays whether if they work or study as their regular daily exercise have such a tireness which tends to make people unwilling to spend further more time to search for the truth behind matters, or things they were not told of. Slowly they develop a habit of accepting anything they were told by the media because of they develop the reliance on group think.

    But well, that’s just my two cents on the topic so, it’s upto you to agree or disagree with it.

  14. If Kevin O-Seven fails to mount Challenge O-Twelve there’s going to be a lot of disappointed people. Barry O-Farrell and Tony Abbott for starters. I’m surmising the fact that it headlines every Murdoch newspaper is part of an orchestrated campaign. Somewhat disappointingly the ABC has taken up the call like a sort of lyrebird.

    Wilkie gives it another fortnight to run. God spare us another two weeks of intense media speculation which may fizzle into nothing. If it does fizzle out the media should then ask itself whether they could have worked on real issues all that time.

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