BigBallinStalin wrote:crispybits wrote:BigBallinStalin wrote:crispybits wrote:
If I'm doing 50mph in a 60mph limit I can think of several roads within 5 miles of my house where a cyclist could come out of nowhere with no notice from a side track and I wouldn't be able to stop in time. I would have been driving perfectly reasonably and the blame for the accident would be entirely with the cyclist. Would that make everything peachy if the cyclist died? Hardly.
Also, I can think of several ways of dressing that are highly offensive to one's visual senses, and to the visual senses of everyone else. "Because I think I look like an idiot" is not a valid objection to not wearing something that could prevent your death when partaking in a risky activity on a public highway. There are good reasons for rules and regulations on the roads, and cyclists shouldn't be any more immune to that than motorcyclists having to wear a helmet, or drivers having to wear a seatbelt.
So by using an extreme particular case, you somewhat can support your stance which applies to all cases? I don't find that convincing.
Insurance (even in the form of helmets) lowers the costs of riskier behavior.
No, by using an example of several individual road/track patterns that I can think of off the top of my head in a small area that's not particularly different from other small areas up and down the country both urban and rural in nature in places I can make a valid extrapolation that there are literally hundreds or thousands of places where it is possible for a car being driven perfectly reasonably for the road conditions to hit a cyclist and it be the cyclists fault entirely if that cycle is not being ridden safely. I also have eidence that even when someone is blameless, being involved in the death of another human being has a profound psychological impact that in some cases is never recovered from. By not wearing a helmet and by taking any risk at all on a public highway you are causing potential damage to other's property (their cars) and their health. As there is no such thing as totally risk free riding or driving on a public highway, then the morally correct stance for everyone using a public highway is to take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of injury in every reasonable way when doing so. Wearing a helmet is not unreasonable. If I was suggesting thousand dollar airbag suits that inflate upon impact then that would be unreasonable. A helmet that costs a small fraction of the cost of the bike, much like lights that cost a similar amount if riding in the dark, is a reasonable measure.
"Because I look like an idiot" isn't the only objection of the millions of people affected by the law, and that straw man fallacy fails to portray how people perceive their profit and opportunity cost. Nor have you succeeded in defending your incorrect analogy.
OK, apart from "because I think I look like an idiot", "because I like the feeling of wind in my hair" and "because I just don't want to" I haven't seen any argument why wearing a helmet on the public highway is unreasonable. And those objections themselves are unreasonable when compared to the proper application of minor inconvenience for a large risk reduction both of serious harm to oneself and of serious harm to others.
Sure, I agree with you that there are good reasons for most people to use safety devices. They may improve their chances of survival even though the chance of dying--depending on an individual's skill and circumstances--varies and may be relatively low regardless of wearing a helmet.
The economist within me asks, "What's the tradeoff between various forms* of protection and various preferences defined by one's opportunity cost**?"
*(e.g. improving one's skills in cycling/driving, wearing a helmet, and/or learning to pay more attention to the road, etc.)
**(e.g. flowing hair in the wind, more comfort, 20% coolness--visually and physiologically, not worrying about the helmet being stolen, not having to risk paying for another helmet, and/or not having to lug a helmet with you throughout the day, etc).
As "society," we don't know that answer, and neither do you because this tradeoff is subjectively perceived by millions of individuals and varies all the time. It's extremely complex, yet the one-size-fits-all laws and obtuse statistics pay no heed to this process.
So how can we discover the optimal tradeoff? By allowing people to make that tradeoff for him or herself, but of course feel free to advertise in favor of helmets. I wear mine all the time because my opportunity cost = significant loss of future profit from brain damage. (My profit = future prestige, capability to learn, write, earn money, make jokes, etc.--who knows what I may lose with the possibility of brain damage?) I won't risk it, but others may have lower or different opportunity costs. I acknowledge that I am in no position to dismiss their opportunity costs; however, some ITT (you, AAFitz) are being presumptuous by not acknowledging this.
Besides, the market has companies which will advertise--and beg--for people to buy their helmets. This is the profit motive at work. It aligns self-interest into complementing the general interest (a.k.a. Adam Smith's Invisible Hand).
(Hey, how much do helmet-producing companies profit from a law which requires helmets?) That's something we should consider--especially if we wish to be practical and less idealistic.
And here's another thing about law and economics. Without a helmet mandate, then individual preferences for more coolness and whatever are allowed to be revealed. Entrepreneurs, who are seeking profits through helmet-production, now have the incentive to discover these preferences and then create cool-looking helmets which consumers are free to choose at a price. However, with a mandatory helmet law, those preferences are quashed*, thus the profit opportunity remains hidden or constrained.
Entreprenurs are still free to come out with any helmet design they can think of, subject to certain safety standards, with a mandate in place. They can design for any level of coolness they like so long as their product is fit for purpose, just like any other product must be fit for purpose. It doesn't restrict the economy and arguing from an economic angle makes no sense at all unless you can show somehow that the economic cost to society of the extra damage done by accidents involving riders without helmets because the rider wasn't wearing a helmet, notably brain damage and psychological trauma, is less than the economic cost to society of people who wouldn't otherwise wear one having to have helmets. As helmets are a low cost item, and brain damage patients often need lifelong care costing many many thousands, and therapy for psychological damage can also get very expensive if required long term, without proper research I believe that the cost of helmets for the objectors would be less overall.
*(Of course, those who break the law can reveal their preferences, but this is beside the point.)
Before we jump up and support a prohibition against Not Wearing Helmets, we should really consider the capabilities of the market, the unintended consequences, the extreme limit of one's knowledge of other people's preferences, the special interest groups who may benefit from that law (police, city governments through police tickets, local Business Bureaus), the politicians, and the judges. Most importantly, we should reflect upon the opportunities that we may lose.
Instead, some loud minority insists upon Helmet Laws, and--get this--"for the common good." And, that law gets passed. Which sounds better? To me, it's the former, cautious argument, but this latter argument--wrapped in the guise of common good--usually fails to acknowledge what it tramples underneath.
So, taken all together, plus the other objections mentioned earlier (TG's for instance), it doesn't seem you have much of an argument here--other than repeating essentially the same argument. We can choose to live in a freer society and allow others to benefit each other on a voluntary basis--free of unnecessary government intervention. Or we can overlook all these opportunities and all of those individual preferences by staunchly supporting another mindless law.
I'm in favor of a freer society, are you?
edit3: (replace key terms, apply this to other threads, and /thread those threads).
TGs arguments are "it's just an excuse for the cops to give out tickets and make money" and "if we legislate public safety for this then we should legislate it for everything which could cause self-harm". The second one fails because as can be shown there is the risk of substantially greater harm to others through no fault of their own if involved in the death of someone becaus they weren't wearing a helmet. It's not just about damage to the rider themselves. The first one fails for much the same reason. If it can be shown that you are risking the health of anyone else who has not agreed to take that risk themselves, then the law can and should be used to prevent that. When using a public highway the reasonable assumption is that all of the other users will have taken sensible precautions both in the way they use the highway, and in the protection they have adopted should this inherently risky activity go wrong for whatever reason, like wearing a seatbelt or turning on lights at night, or wearing a helmet if on a bike (motorised or not).
Nevertheless, by using an extreme particular case, you can't support your stance which applies to all cases. Therefore, this post still holds.
I've already listed more than your straw man argument and more than your other two new additions to it, so omitting relevant points isn't a good counter-argument.
RE: the entrepreneurs, sure, but that's for a particular market. After seeing so many people not wear helmets in a place which has helmet laws, then it's obvious that the price of a helmet has not sufficiently offset their benefits of not wearing one. Looks like more entrepreneurial work needs to be done, so your argument doesn't hold here.
RE: cops, business bureaus, and politicians. TG's point is still valid, and you're not really convincing anyone here by ignoring those three groups' profit-motives, so the public choice argument here holds.
RE: underlined, if we apply that argument consistently, we get unnecessary, constraining laws. Of course, if you're a state socialist, then this may be fine.
Basically, since you greatly perceive the benefits while heavily discounting the costs (and omit relevant points), then we can conclude that you oppose a freer society and favor an imagined* better, state socialist society.
*Apparently, you believe that you know the optimal tradeoff. Very presumptuous of you and totally nonsensical, but a state socialist couldn't have done it better.
Nah...you're the one ignoring the details of the situation and just creating some perfect entrepreneurial fantasy land, not the other way around.