Morning Links

Monday, November 21st, 2011
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56 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Thirty years of MADDness has made it hard enough to
    beat the charges if you’re .08, regardless of whether
    you’re actually “impaired,” a criterion that actually used to matter,
    and should since the charge revolves around “impariment.”
    Now the goons are making up BAC levels?
    What’s next?– planting kids in the back seat so they can
    make it a felony DUI?

  2. #2 |  H. Rearden | 

    Conclusion: High childhood IQ may increase the risk of illegal drug use in adolescence and adulthood.

    Why, the solution to the country’s drug problem is obvious – we must stop educating our kids! Oh…wait…[head explodes].

  3. #3 |  Burgers Allday | 

    On the faked DUI evidence, it would be nice to know if the faked results related to a portable breathalyzer, or a bench breathalyzer at the ststion.

    Of course, one concern about portable breathalyzers (relative to bench breathalyzers) is that the read out can be lied about withrelative ease.

  4. #4 |  Big A | 

    IQ-Drug use study. Well correlation does not prove causation, so it could easily be the other way around: illegal drug use in adulthood may increase the risk of high childhood IQ.

  5. #5 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are…” threatening to throw people in jail if they claim water prevents dehydration.

    Cannot resist my soapbox. Have no fear that sanity will return to global economics. The states are bat shit insane still…invest accordingly.

    No offense to bat shit.

  6. #6 |  Michael P ack | 

    DUI is a easiest ‘crime’ to charge as of now.You do not need to prove harm or reckless driving,the forensics are a joke,and in many states you are persumed guilty due to these flawed tests.Even if you pass these ‘test’,you can still be charged.There’s no harm,or danger in many cases or complaining witness.Plus the government uses stats that are inflated or down right lies.A arrest can ruin your life.as can a drug charge.We are producing a large group of people who are unemployable due to the wars on drugs and DUI.

  7. #7 |  Sysiphus | 

    As much as I abhor the idea of water not being hydrating, and of jail time for false advertising, I must admit that the idea that companies could face jail time sounds refreshing. Reduce the things that can cause jail time: Good. Increase the odds that you go to jail if your company does something bad enough that an individual would do jail time: also good.

  8. #8 |  Jay | 

    Well done PGC, well done.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/prince-georges-police-seek-mistakenly-released-murder-suspect/2011/11/20/gIQAjrfyfN_story.html

  9. #9 |  Brandon | 

    It’s amazing how many of these bureaucrats double down when questioned about their own blatant idiocy.

  10. #10 |  omar | 

    The DUI story blows my mind:

    Even worse, [former prosecutor] Hunter said, is that there probably were people charged with driving under the influence who shouldn’t have been.

    Even worse than what? Backtracking on the article…

    The forced resignation of a deputy assigned to the DUI task force could affect the prosecution of hundreds of cases, according to those in the legal community.

    Yea, I’d say that’s a whole shit-ton “even worse”. How about “all that really matters here is…”

  11. #11 |  C.A.J. | 

    Next up: there is no evidence to support the claim that breathing air prevents asphyxiation.

  12. #12 |  Aresen | 

    C.A.J. beat me to it.

    As for “The Morning Worry”:

    Is there anything global warming can’t do?

  13. #13 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I shall be fascinated to see what happens with the New York Family Courts, at least if what happens isn’t nothing. I wonder if you can get Contempt of Court charges when one Court ignores the rulings of a higher Court.

    Anybody know?

  14. #14 |  lunchstealer | 

    Oh, fuck. That should probably read, ‘the end of GOOD coffee is at hand’ at least for us workaday yobs. It’ll be back to robusto-based godawfulness from Folgers/Maxwell-House. Balls.

  15. #15 |  Mike Healy | 

    Never got into drinking coffee. Maybe that’s why I’m no longer part of the “robust middle class”. Anyway, couldn’t care less about it.

  16. #16 |  SamK | 

    …as someone essentially allergic to coffee…yay?

  17. #17 |  Dante | 

    In recent news:

    Georgia cop admits falsifying DUI evidence to get convictions of innocent people. He does this to meet his arrest quota. Shows no remorse for the innocent people harmed.

    New York cops admit to planting drug evidence to get convictions of innocent people. He does this to meet his arrest quota. Shows no remorse for the innocent people harmed.

    Chicago cops admit falsifying court testimony (“testi-lying”) to get convictions of innocent people. He does this to meet his quota. Shows no remorse for the innocent people harmed.

    How long before our President declares that our police are a “grave danger” and launches a pre-emptive military attack on their houses and police stations in the middle of the night?

    I can dream.

  18. #18 |  Maria | 

    @6 What’s worrying is not only the employment prospects of such a vast segment of the population with charges blown up into felonies. It’s other elements as well, such as the ability to vote, get loans/grants/scholarships, hold “secure” positions once you do manage to get employment, adopt, retain custody, freely associate, even travel in and out of the country. The Drug War is a class war.

  19. #19 |  Sam | 

    Hold on a minute: a changing climate can produce bad outcomes? That’s the damndest thing I’ve ever heard. Has anybody written anything about climate change or done any research into it?

  20. #20 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Coun­cil is investigating to determine whether Norman can keep his certification, said Ryan Powell, its director of operations. Unless he is arrested on felony charges or his certification is suspended, Norman is free to work as an officer, Powell said.

    After all, there is very little need for someone to have integrity in order to be a cop. If they do have it, they will eventually lose it anyway.

  21. #21 |  Alex | 

    I’m no enemy of this site, but I have to insist that water does not necessarily prevent dehydration. Dehydration is a symptom of a variety of medical conditions, and drinking water does not heal them. The claim was submitted as a statement of efficacy in treatment of a disease, and was rejected on that basis.

  22. #22 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “The Drug War is a class war.”
    Yeah, imagine if the 2.3 million in jail got released and voted.
    How many would vote Republican? About 45?

  23. #23 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Coun­cil is investigating to determine whether Norman can keep his certification, said Ryan Powell, its director of operations. Unless he is arrested on felony charges or his certification is suspended, Norman is free to work as an officer, Powell said.”

    The fact that there is any doubt about suspending his certification shows how messed up policing is in Georgia and the rest of the U.S. Here’s a simple idea from yours truly: If you admit to falsifying evidence one time or get caught one time, you are “disbarred” (so to speak) from policing FOR LIFE. A demonstrated history of knowingly inventing evidence as an LEO should disqualify you from ever being considered for a similar position.

  24. #24 |  Maria | 

    @21 I actually agree with you on that. It’s just that they didn’t simply say “Water prevents dehydration” the statement was (at least according to the article) that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration.” Which, in most cases, is quite an accurate claim to make. The claim is that the consumption of a specific item reduces the risk of developing a specific condition. This is accurate.

    However, if anything, I’d would think the wording of “significant amounts” would be the issue. A healthy mildly active person, eating a varied diet through the day, will get a good portion of their liquid intake from other food and drink.

  25. #25 |  Christ on a Cracker | 

    RE: Portable breath testers

    I get a receipt right on the spot when I check in a rental car. The agent’s scanner has a printer attached. No fuss. I always know what I’m charged.

    Why isn’t the BAC number printed out on the spot? One for records, one for the defendant.

    Just askin’

  26. #26 |  Dante | 

    Helmut said:
    “If you admit to falsifying evidence one time or get caught one time, you are “disbarred” (so to speak) from policing FOR LIFE. A demonstrated history of knowingly inventing evidence as an LEO should disqualify you from ever being considered for a similar position.”

    While I agree 100%, your proposal would empty the police precincts from here to Bombay. There would be few, if any cops left.

    They ALL fabricate evidence, or cover up for those who do. The job, the other cops, the culture – they can’t help it. Like salespeople who lie when they say “it looks good on you”, it is part of the cop’s job to fabricate evidence so they meet their arrest/conviction quota.

    Isn’t it a nice feeling to know that, because the street cop in your area wants to be promoted, your kid must be beaten, tased, thrown in jail, raped and ruined for life when the cop plants drugs on her?

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  27. #27 |  Big A | 

    #25: Same reason the DMV didn’t accept credit cards until recently- cuz they don’t hafta.

  28. #28 |  Nick T. | 

    RE: Law School

    That article is a really good example of way too much paternalism when market actors have incenitves to make the correct changes. First if the government gives out too much in loans that can’t be repaid then they should tighten their practices or offer incentives, since it’s THEIR money. Second law schools could offer the 1 year half-reimbursement deal as a way to entice students who are otherwise onthe fence about attending or just want extra peace of mind. Third, student consumers could ask for more transparency or pay other entities – like a Princeton Review – to collect this data. Ultimatley the rosie view of studnets that they can get the big job, or magically become an A student despite being a B- student for 15 years *at their own peril* just can’t and shouldn’t be solved through legislation.

  29. #29 |  digamma | 

    Maybe Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich should bet on the price of coffee.

  30. #30 |  StrangeOne | 

    #22 Yizmo

    Yeah ain’t it grand that all the people victimized by the state are barred from participating in the legitimate means to change the state? Its almost as if by creating a criminal class the politicians are able to make laws exponentially harsher and broader without ever having to deal with the ramifications of an angry and disenfranchised public.

  31. #31 |  Laben | 

    On coffee….I drink the cheapest instant coffee I can find at the grocery store. As a teacher, I am only concerned about having energy and a good enough buzz to deal with large groups of kids and a miserable and failing school bureaucracy. On days I go in without coffee, the reality of my world becomes frightening.

  32. #32 |  Andrew S. | 

    #26 | Dante | November 21st, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Helmut said:
    “If you admit to falsifying evidence one time or get caught one time, you are “disbarred” (so to speak) from policing FOR LIFE. A demonstrated history of knowingly inventing evidence as an LEO should disqualify you from ever being considered for a similar position.”

    While I agree 100%, your proposal would empty the police precincts from here to Bombay. There would be few, if any cops left.

    That’s a feature, not a bug.

  33. #33 |  Kevin | 

    TheOnion.com is singling out libertarians for some slagging. They usually do a pretty good (funny) job of it.

    http://www.theonion.com/audio/libertarian-reluctantly-calls-fire-department,26710/

  34. #34 |  John Spragge | 

    I deplore dishonesty on the part of the police, and I despise police officers who falsify evidence precisely because the stakes matter. And yes, no police department should ever employ a person with a record of falsifying evidence, suborning, or committing perjury, or in any way conspiring to defraud the courts.

    I also believe that individuals who take the chance of driving after knowingly consuming substances that impair their judgment and reflexes have committed a grave crime of violence against their fellow citizens. If you drive drunk, you let loose a two-tonne steel bomb in a public place; everyone who has a right to use that space, everyone who needs to use that space has a complaint against you for needlessly endangering their lives. The libertarian argument against drug laws designed to protect people from themselves does not apply here; when you drive drunk, other road users cannot always get our of your way, even if you had the right to ask them to. Laws on drunk driving and other forms of dangerous driving satisfy Mills’s criterion for a just law: they exist to protect other people, not to protect us from ourselves. Fraudulent convictions for anything should not affect anyone’s life. Valid convictions for any violent crime, from drunken driving to robbery to homicide do affect the lives of the convicted, and to some extend, they ought to.

  35. #35 |  ken | 

    How about those who knowingly take the chance of driving after working a double shift? That can impair judgement and reflexes every bit as much as a blood alcohol limit of .08 in many people.
    At one time the laws were at least written around actual impairment, but the threshold has been lowered so far that the only way to catch violators is to set up checkpoints.
    I have asked why they don’t just take the dozen or so officers and patrol cars involved in these checkpoints and actually drive around looking for impaired drivers, more than once I have received the answer that they might not be able to tell a driver was impaired just by observing them.
    Silly me, but if you can’t tell by watching them drive they must not be very impaired.
    So, I don’t agree with those who say it’s not a crime until you actually hurt someone, but, current laws have gone well beyond any rational basis for claiming impairment.

  36. #36 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Pepper Spray Cop:
    http://www.occupythegame.com/lieutenant_john_pike/

    “Career Day” pic…oh man.

  37. #37 |  John Spragge | 

    Anyone who wants to make it illegal to drive without having had at least four hours of sleep in the past 24 hours would have my full support, on the same grounds as the current prohibition of alcohol intoxication: operating a two-tonne steel bomb in public spaces other people have every right to use, and need to use, gravely violates the rights of all those people.

    I looked up alcohol intoxication, and eMedicineHealth claims the following:
    “Numerous studies demonstrate that almost all drivers are impaired at a level of 80 mg/dL with respect to critical driving skills such as braking, steering, and changing lanes. Impairment begins as low as 20 mg/dL and is common at 50 mg/dL. Most significant is that impairment of skills begins at a much lower level than required to exhibit obvious signs of being drunk.”
    http://www.emedicinehealth.com/alcohol_intoxication/page7_em.htm
    Please forgive me if I consider a team of doctors writing for a medical website authoritative on the subject of the physiological and psychological effects of alcohol.

  38. #38 |  ken | 

    Forgiven, but if I may point out.
    7% of vehicle crashes in the US involve alcohol, bear in mind that this includes persons involved other than the driver who have a positive BAC, so not all can be blamed on ‘drunk drivers’ necessarily.
    Of course alcohol is involved in a good number of fatal accidents, around 33%, but out of that only around 5% involve BAC’s lower than .11
    So, regardless of what a team of doctors has determined in the lab, actual real world experience doesn’t support that a BAC of .05 is dangerous.

    http://www.cga.ct.gov/ps99/rpt/olr/htm/99-r-0154.htm

    http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/DrivingIssues/1101913925.html

  39. #39 |  Brandon | 

    John, our host has already rebutted your appeal to expertise. Drunk driving laws do more harm than good, and it is childish to pretend the government can protect you from all the scary things in the world.

  40. #40 |  Brandon | 

    Dammit, forgot the link:

    http://reason.com/archives/2010/10/11/abolish-drunk-driving-laws

  41. #41 |  CyniCAl | 

    Asians drive sober like I drive with a BAC of .20%. I think Asians should be banned from driving. When Asians drive, other road users cannot always get out of their way, even if you had the right to ask them to.

    It’s funny because it’s true.

  42. #42 |  johnl | 

    John Spragge it’s correct that you have to be on your game to operate heavy machinery. What you are missing is that if we create a regiem to validate that I am on my game and I am not off because I am too sneezy, hungry, tired, sick, or had too much to drink, or I am distracted because I just heard a friend died, or I just got fired, or a new job, … Then there is going to be a lot of side penalties to all that validation.

  43. #43 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    http://bradhicks.livejournal.com/452930.html?nc=1#comments

    A look at the law in regards to the police using pain to get compliance– anyone have anything more on the subject?

  44. #44 |  John Spragge | 

    @Brandon, please understand that the question of whether a particular level of a drug has an intoxicating involves physiology, and therefore a doctor, not a journalist, has the best background to analyze it. In the article you linked, Radley Balko does not address any physiological question: he addresses the question of what type of impairment police officers can immediately identify. That question may have some bearing on the best way to actually enforce the laws, but it doesn’t address driver performance. I repeat that my source refutes the statement my post primarily answered, by Ken, that “current laws have gone well beyond any rational basis for claiming impairment.”

    I reject your larger argument that “Drunk driving laws do more harm than good….” for two reasons. First, it seems clear that alcohol abuse ranks as a significant cause of road crashes, and highway crashes present the greatest danger to users of public space in existence. The road death toll tracks pretty precisely at double the homicide rate. It ranks as a leading non-disease cause of death. Laws on drunk driving (or drinking and driving) would only do more harm than good if it prevented the passage of a better law on dangerous driving. But a little consideration suggests that we have a long, long way to go before we ever reach a consensus on the best way to implement a comprehensive dangerous driving law. Any jurisdiction proposing a comprehensive reckless driving law would have to deal with a huge number of issues: of investigation, of allowed and disallowed evidence, of intent, and so on. Until those of us responsible for traffic safety work these matters out, it makes sense to stay with the existing, albeit flawed, drunk driving laws. And given that according to Radley Balko’s own research (http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa501.pdf) restrictions on drunk driving save at least 4000 lives each year. To put those 4,000 lives in perspective, according to the US Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics, police identified just 3371 homicides arising out of the commission of a felony (presumably a crime other than a DUI) or gang activity. Those 4000 lives saved by the stigma (and laws) against drunk driving exceed the total number gang-related and other felony related homicides. With all their flaws, drunk driving laws have accomplished that much. Any argument you make that they do more harm than good has some formidable facts to overcome.

  45. #45 |  Donald | 

    If we aren’t supposed to drink and drive, why do bars have parking lots?

  46. #46 |  John Spragge | 

    @Donald: Designated drivers.

  47. #47 |  Highway | 

    John Spragge said:
    Laws on drunk driving (or drinking and driving) would only do more harm than good if it prevented the passage of a better law on dangerous driving.

    This is an awfully narrow standard, and completely ignores the things that Radley argues in his earlier piece: That secondary effects are doing more harm than the good they are purported to do. It’s easy to wave off any harms due to laws if you ignore huge swaths of life that are affected. Would we not save thousands of lives if all people were restricted to their homes, due to illnesses not being spread? That wouldn’t make it impossible to pass a law requiring better treatment of illnesses, but it would undoubtedly do more harm than good.

    I also think you’re protesting too much against a reckless driving statute. Evidence is gathered now. The standards already exist. Intent doesn’t matter, because it’s not a ‘crime’, it’s an observation of behavior (unlike ‘drunk driving’, which in lots of cases looks like ‘driving’). Most places, if not all, already have reckless driving statutes. Somehow they got past all those objections you raise.

  48. #48 |  Radley Balko | 

    And given that according to Radley Balko’s own research (http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa501.pdf) restrictions on drunk driving save at least 4000 lives each year.

    Where in the paper did you find this? It’s been a while since that was published, but I can’t find any such assertion.

    I did cite an L.A. Times report finding that 5,000 people per year are killed by drunk drivers (as opposed to the 20,000+ claimed by MADD and NHTSA at the time). But that’s quite a bit different than asserting that drunk driving laws prevent that many deaths.

  49. #49 |  StrangeOne | 

    I also believe that individuals who take the chance of driving after knowingly consuming substances that impair their judgment and reflexes have committed a grave crime of violence against their fellow citizens.

    Do you also believe that a person in possesion of a loaded gun has committed the grave crime of assault with a deadly weapon? Or how about someone with a pocket knife? The potential is there after all…

    This paranoid approach to public safety just serves to build a police state. You can site all the sources you want (cause we all know the state never encourages scientists to formulate loaded observational studies that favor current policy) but simple common sense tells you that levels of impairment vary wildly among people. If a study determines that 90% of the people with .08 are impared, that means that a policy based on those figures will needlessly arrest 10% of those people. If you could prove that 100% of impared drivers cause a fatality (a rediculous propostion) and punish accordingly, you still admit that you have a 10% failure rate and are punishing the innocent for something they didn’t even do.

    When you take into account all the things that could be considered an “impairment”: legal and illegal drug use, sleep deprivation, all manner of distracted driving. Then you realize how pervasive impared driving is compared to accident and fatality rates. The only conclusion that can be reached is that its simply despotic to declare some potential crimes equivelent to actual ones while ignoring others, and even more despotic to treat all potential crimes as actual ones.

    The government could save a signifigant number of lives by appointing everyone a bathroom moniter (the most fatal accident causing room in your house). But the invasion of privacy, the presumption of government power and the creation of a Beurea of Bath and Washroom Inspectors isn’t worth it. Life, and government, are about risk management. Our current laws regarding drunk driving and similar other “crimes” do not serve people in minimizing monetary and human costs. A realist must admit that no matter how powerful a govenment is a certain level of accidents will have to be acceptable, and that there is only so much a just government can do before the governments response destroys more lives than the accidents it sought to prevent.

  50. #50 |  John Spragge | 

    Radley: On page 9 of the article I cited (http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa501.pdf), you wrote: “Alcohol-related traffic deaths have dropped
    by 40 percent since 1982″. You cited as a source the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic
    Safety Facts 2000,” DOT HS 809 337. According the the data in table 15 of that document, the combination of tougher laws and change in public perceptions around drunken driving actually saved over six thousand lives in 2000.

    StrangeOne: Merely possessing a weapon does not work as an analogy for drinking and driving. Drinking and driving actually resembles putting on a blindfold, pointing your gun in a general upward direction, and letting off a burst. It does not resemble having a knife in your pocket, but running through a crowd with the knife out and pointed forward.

    To all: Consider two forms of state issued ID. One a police badge, the other a driver’s license. Both forms of state identification and license convey permission to do things that non-holders may not do. Both convey state permission to act in ways that can potentially cause great harm to members of your fellow citizens. I see that Mr. Balko and most of his readers quite correctly understand that we, the public, must insist that the state hold one of the classes of state license-holders accountable, namely the people who have badges. And this doesn’t have with just some incidents of pepper spraying or bad contempt of cop arrests or puppycide, but with a larger principle: that when the state issues licenses with no accountability, they make everyone, even ultimately the license holders themselves, less free. I don’t get why so many people fail to see that just as the state takes on an obligation to hold people to a basic standard of behaviour when they issue a badge, it takes on the same type of responsibility when it issues driving licenses. The same principles apply.

  51. #51 |  Radley Balko | 

    Radley: On page 9 of the article I cited (http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa501.pdf), you wrote: “Alcohol-related traffic deaths have dropped
    by 40 percent since 1982″. You cited as a source the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic
    Safety Facts 2000,” DOT HS 809 337. According the the data in table 15 of that document, the combination of tougher laws and change in public perceptions around drunken driving actually saved over six thousand lives in 2000.

    If you read the rest of the paper, I think it’s pretty clear that I don’t credit increasingly strict drunk driving laws for the drop in alcohol-related fatalities. I credit public awareness campaigns and a general shift in public perceptions of drunk driving (credit to MADD where it’s due). But the entire section on DWI is an attempt to debunk the idea that roadblocks, .08, and other laws have had an impact on highway fatalities. You can disagree with that if you like. But it’s flat wrong to write that I credit those laws with saving lives.

  52. #52 |  StrangeOne | 

    Merely possessing a weapon does not work as an analogy for drinking and driving. Drinking and driving actually resembles putting on a blindfold, pointing your gun in a general upward direction, and letting off a burst. It does not resemble having a knife in your pocket, but running through a crowd with the knife out and pointed forward.

    This perfectly illustrates just how irrational your stance on drunk driving is. Firing a gun randomly in the air (which isn’t even that dangerous) is nowhere near the equivilent of driving drunk, as defined by the state. The whole reason for DUI checkpoints is because law enforcement can’t even tell who is driving drunk. The .08 limit is arbitrary, and the harshness of drunk driving laws is even worse when compared to other imparing acts which aren’t policed as heavily or at all, like having more than 2 passengers in the car or sleep deprivation (both of which have been shown to have the same effect as .08 limit for most people).

    Most people can safely drive after two beers, most people can safely drive while listening to loud music, most people can safely drive while talking to a car full of friends, most people can safely drive with their kids yelling in the back seat. For the state to declare one of these groups of people, as what amounts to, attempted murders in the absence of any supporting evidence is unconsicionable.

    that when the state issues licenses with no accountability, they make everyone, even ultimately the license holders themselves, less free

    This is the exact opposite of freedom. If you require state permission to do something your freedom in that regard has been reduced. The fact that you can so fundamentaly misunderstand the concept of freedom sheds a lot of light on where you are coming from. In a free society licensing would be unnecessary becuase the only crime you could commit with a vehicle would involve the destruction of public or private property or harm to an individual with that vehicle. Which, coincidentally, we already have laws against completely independent of the DMV’s good graces in letting us use taxpayer funded roads.

    And why do you assume that everyone is so incompetent that the state must pre-emptively police their behavior? For that matter why do you assume the state can effectively or fairly measure competence? Keep in mind millions upon millions of people drive every day without an accident. They do this seven days a week, all year long. Yet the rate of collisions in comparison to the number of cars on the road is infintesimly small. Given the fact that collisions and accidents are so infrequent, shouldn’t it be safe to assume that the vast majority of drivers are competent? Why revel in this delusional myth that everyone else is dangerous and the only thing that makes them, and by extension yourself, safe is some permission slip from government bureaucrats?

  53. #53 |  John Spragge | 

    Radley: I never said you agreed with .08 laws or DUI checkpoints. I said your own research indicates that restrictions on impaired driving saved more lives each year than the total number of lives lost to all (non-driving) criminal activity. Whether you see the effective restrictions on drinking and driving as external or internal, or whether you see the most effective forms of external sanction as legal penalty or social ostracism, alcohol-impaired driving kills a great many people. We have considerable evidence that it killed a great many more people before the change in both laws (US state legislatures passed 729 laws on drinking and driving between 1980 and 1986) and social attitudes.

  54. #54 |  John Spragge | 

    StrangeOne: I’ll leave out your staggering callousness for now. Just this month my city lost a vibrant young mother, crushed under the wheels of a truck. The outpouring of grief paralyzed a good chunk of the city for a morning, the devastated family, the sadness the rage, the child who will grow up without a mother; I will remember these things for some time. And yet you consider that happening thirty three thousand times in 2010 alone “inifitesimal”. Over thirty thousand people, the population of a large town or small city, every year. Over one hundred thirty five times the 9/11 death toll in the years from 2001 to the present. More Americans have died in car crashes than the entire Islamist movement has killed. And the communist party (all communist parties). And the national socialist German workers party, And the government of Hideki Tojo. Car crashes have killed more Americans than these institutions, combined.

    But let’s instead look at on your apparent belief that you can define reality, regardless of what doctors have to say about the effects of alcohol on the human brain. You can tell us that most people can drive safely after drinking. You can shout it, type it in all caps, even have Rush set it to a guitar anthem. Doctors, who actually understand how alcohol interacts with the brain, tell us that alcohol impairs judgment, the activity most critical for safety around moving machinery, long before it produces visible motor control effects.

    Your argument puts me in mind of a science fiction story, in which a man, his license suspended permanently for irresponsible driving on Earth, takes off for a remote planet where they have no traffic police or traffic courts. He discovers to his discomfort that indeed they have no traffic police or courts. They fight duels. The moral? An infantile and unworthy corruption of the libertarian impulse dreams of a society where the individual can define reality as he (she) chooses, and force others to clean up the mess, fold their hands, bury the dead, when the clash between fantasy and reality produces its inevitable result. That will never happen. We will protect ourselves; if not with licensing laws and RIDE checkpoints, then in other, more severe, ways.

  55. #55 |  StrangeOne | 

    John are you really that obtuse? You can’t stop or prevent every traffic death, thats not callousness, thats called living in the real world. As tragic as a persons death maybe it is utter foolishness to establish national policy based on that incident alone. I also note that you failed to mention if the truck driver was drunk, so aside from being annectdotal evidence, your anecdote has no relevance to the discussion at hand.

    33,000 traffic deaths in a year? Thats about a hundred a day, in a nation with 250 million vehicles. If even half of those vehicles are on the road on an average day, that means you have a less than a one in a million chance at a fatal traffic accident. Not to mention a great many of those traffic fatalities have nothing to do with alcohol. You’ve embraced draconian policies to curb a portion of accidents, with a tiny rate of occurance in the first place.

    I’m not saying alcohol has no effect, I’m saying that the same amount of alcohol has different effects on different people, something the law totally ignores. Again, if being a drunk driver was so obvious, why have DUI checkpoints and sobriety tests? If you can’t tell if someone is dangerous by watching them drive, doesn’t that call into question whether or not they are dangerous at all? This is about the state taking what *some doctors* say about blood/alcohol limits as a broad pretense to arrest, imprision, and villify a not insignifigant portion of the population. You don’t seem to get that alcohol isn’t the only thing that kills motorists, but the state doesn’t prosecute other dangerous behaviors nearly as ferociously as DUI.

    And then you descend into this fantasy about this huge portion of the population that would become destruction derby drivers without traffic cops. Really, your opinion of other people is that low? In the absence of traffic laws would you engage in behavior that signifigantly endagers your life and others? No, then why do you assume everyone else would become road warriors? You honestly think you have to “protect yourself” from these other people. They’re not just drivers and passengers trying to get where they are going, to you every other person is a potential kill crazy duelists directly threatening your life. If you think thats the “inevetible result” of slightly looser traffic laws, then you’re the one living in the fantasy world.

  56. #56 |  John Spragge | 

    Let’s get back to basic libertarian principles. A free society requires that everyone have the ability to exercise their rights. Check. Our rights include the right to use public space to move about (this one goes back to Magna Carta, and numbers among three explicitly protected in the body of the US constitution). In a libertarian society, crimes only consist of unnecessarily endangering, threatening, or harming others in the exercise of their rights. Impaired driving (driving impaired by all factors) kills and injures people innocently exercising their rights. Check, Therefore, according to libertarian principles, impaired operation of a motor vehicle constitutes a crime.

    Motor vehicle accidents rank as the leading cause of death among American teenagers. That means an enormous loss of human potential, not to mention an enormous burden of grief and suffering. Some of that we can reduce with much more effective, much more rigorous driver education and training. Things we can’t train drivers to cope with, such as drug and alcohol impairment and sleep deprivation, we can reduce with effective, no-nonsense enforcement. Sanctions against impaired driving already save ten thousand lives every year. More effective sanctions and better training can almost certainly save another ten thousand lives.

    And please stop whining that drivers are really nice people, not out to kill each other or pedestrians. Driving means operating a large, heavy piece of machinery, powered by and loaded with loaded with one of the touchiest high explosives going. Our present motor vehicle technology taxes the human mind and body very close to the limit. It doesn’t take a homicidal maniac to kill with a car: one bad judgment will do it. When we don’t demand of ourselves what the technology demands of us, we can either not use the technology (a good thing), or we can kill ourselves and other people (a very bad thing). I regret it if the reality doesn’t please you, but over thirty thousand dead Americans every year doesn’t please me.

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