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Safety versus stupidity

May 18, 2009

by Ivan Raconteur

There is a battle going on all around us.

It is a battle that generates inconvenience for most of us and added expenses for all of us.

I refer to the battle to protect stupid people from themselves.

Now, there are some kindly souls who will try to tell you that there are no stupid people (presumably the same righteous individuals who say there are no dumb questions), but they are wrong, and there is plenty of evidence to prove it.

There are people wandering around on the loose who are as dense as a London fog and as dumb as a box of rocks.

There are those who insist that it is our duty to protect these fatheads from themselves, and who are on a mission to idiot-proof the entire world.

It is, perhaps, not surprising, that the government is usually behind all of this. One might say it is a case of bureaucrats trying to protect their own.

In any event, I feel compelled to say that I am an unwilling participant in this battle.

Whether it is tax dollars to impose restrictive laws or consumer costs resulting from required safety features and special labeling, I see no reason to spend good money to pay for things that are only postponing the inevitable.

A determined imbecile is bound to eventually figure out a way to do himself in, no matter how many safeguards we try to put in his way.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not suggesting that all safety devices are evil – I am merely suggesting that it has gone too far.

I heard an example of this during a recent city council meeting.

In response to residents who were unhappy about trains blowing their horns while passing through town, the city engineer had investigated what it would take to implement a so-called “quiet zone.”

If such a zone could be established, the practice of horn-blowing could be stopped.

It should be noted that train crews don’t blow their horns just for kicks. They are required to do so (and this is one of the burdensome safety rules to which I alluded).

The city engineer consulted the BNSF Railway and the Federal Railroad Administration, which deals with these things.

It was determined (by the railroad administration) that the risk index in this particular city was too high to allow a quiet zone, but there were steps the city could take to reduce the risk index.

For just $25,000 per intersection (another unnecessary cost), the city could install concrete medians at the railroad crossings.

What this means is that the existing stop arms that block the traffic lanes when a train is present, combined with the flashing lights and warning bells that are already in place, are not considered adequate to make the crossing safe.

Apparently, in order to make the crossings “safe,” the city would have to install concrete barriers to prevent knuckleheads from ignoring all of the warnings and deliberately driving around the stop arms to get themselves run over by a train.

I say if people are in that much of a hurry to die, we should not stand in their way.

Trains can neither stop on a dime nor swerve to avoid idiots on the tracks, and nitwits who deliberately tangle with them deserve no sympathy (although one does sympathize with the train engineers who are put in this position).

Darwin was right. The human race would be stronger without some of the morons who have been muddying the gene pool.

It is one thing to require safety features to protect a reasonable person (there are a few left) from accidental injury.

It is entirely another thing to try to protect blockheads who deliberately ignore warnings and common sense and get themselves hurt or killed.

Like the people who drive around stop arms at railroad crossings, the half-wits who climb over fences and barriers to get into a tiger pit and antagonize the occupants deserve what they get.

If someone is foolish enough to try to use an electric hair dryer in the shower, he probably will not be able to read a label warning against such an imprudent act.

If someone needs to be warned against ironing garments while he is wearing them, chances are he is a few sandwiches short of a picnic and warning labels will not save him.

No amount of burdensome legislation, expensive safety features, or mandatory warning labels can protect a seriously determined fool from himself, and it is time we stopped trying.