Why Traffic Regulations Matter

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My last few posts have been about calls for government to make us safer on the Antelope Valley Freeway (AVF), as a result of a hypothetical multi-car tragedy.  You can read about it here.  

The final three calls for safety from that article are as follows.

  1. We need higher traffic fines.
  2. Let’s tax fuel to reduce traffic.
  3. If we build a monorail between Palmdale and Burbank, it will reduce traffic.

While my intent was to break these down individually, I realized that would get laborious so I decided to generalize: all calls for government intervention are to ask for less liberty, and to delegate away property from one person to another.  Period.

Are you a drone?

Are you a drone?

There are prominent thinkers and many others who think libertarians should stick to domestic civic issues such as traffic laws and drugs.  To some, talking about traffic laws on the AVF is exactly the lane (hey, that’s a pun!) libertarians should stay in.  To others, explaining how less State action would make for better foreign policy and less war is where I should be expending my time.  I really don’t want to get bogged down on this particular local matter, but the AVF illustrates a microcosm of a larger problem.  Separating domestic and foreign issues when it comes to liberty is a very tenuous game.  In short, the way people think about domestic issues should affect how they think about whether a nation-state has the right to reach out and kill children far-away with drones and missiles.  I know too many cannot make the connection, but it is important to bridge that gap, I think.

A libertarian mindset is a holistic one.  It is my opinion that to be “kind of” libertarian is like being “kind of” pregnant.  When you invite the State to control you, you certainly allow it to control everything.  Allowing the State to gain more and more power is based on fear:  fear of a car crash, fear of a terrorist attack, fear of poisoned foods, fear of being fat.  Eventually, you get sloth on top of the fear.  Actually, it might be a learned helplessness.  Eventually, not only do more and more people become accustomed to not looking out for themselves, those who may have wished to do so find it impossible because of the regulation, taxation, and legalized theft of property.

But the violence begets more violence.  Drone attacks on foreign soil produce enemies of the U.S. (see Blowback).  Contrary to the propaganda, they don’t hate us for our freedom (which is absolutely ridiculous), “they” hate “us” because “we” (words used cautiously) collectively approved (supposedly) our government’s interventionist foreign policy.  In essence, too many have bought that without the State, we would not be safe, we would not have justice, and people could not coexist.

Another type of drone.

Another type of drone (USAF Reaper).

As government creates more problems, it claims it needs more power to fix them…this is regardless of whether it is traffic laws or drones attacking foreign lands.  That’s why hacking away at its power one mind at a time is of the essence.

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Musings on a National Review Article about Auto Regulation

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I was recently E-mailed a link to a National Review article on how federal mandates for better gas mileage are killing people.  Here is the link:  http://www.nationalreview.com/article.

It’s a well-written article.  It delves into how government-mandated MPG requirements make for cars that are less safe.  However, it left my wanting.  It seems like Robert Norton, the author, yearns for better policy, rather than none.  I could be wrong.  Maybe it’s my hot liberty-loving blood, but it is what is not written in the article that leads me to believe that this comes from a “your government hack is bad, but my government hack would be better” perspective.  Then again, maybe Mr. Norton is just going for a base hit rather than a home run in taking on the Federal monster.

All in all, the article goes for a tree rather than the forest.  First of all, the 54.4 MPG mandate was set by an an administrative dictate, NOT BY LAW signed by the U.S. Congress and the President (see this from http://majorityleader.gov/TheImperialPresidency/, for the sake of brevity only read the auto efficiency part, read the rest later and feel your blood pressure skyrocket).  It is certainly correct that government mandates destroy our lives, but that is because government destroys everything.  In essence, the author is pruning the man-eating plant.

The Smart Car.  Oh, the irony of a name!

The Smart Car. Oh, the irony of a name!

So today, we simply have unconstrained monopoly of force.  What is needed now are more people who simply say, “this is not law, so we will not follow it,” when there is an administrative edict not backed by law.  So who would that be?  It certainly would not be the poor chump buying the car; it would have to be the automakers.  What is not said in the National Review article, and needs to be hammered home, is that the auto company big-wigs probably love this regulation.  It creates a barrier to entry for any competition.  Only the big 3 can comply this mandate because:

  1. Who could possibly follow this mandate without loads of production (i.e. make lots of itty-bitty cars that get 60+ MPG, and then actually sell profitable large vehicles that get far less…as a result the average MPG meets the mandate)
  2. They get subsidized when they get in trouble by bailouts

This is a complicit arrangement between the Big 3 automakers and the centrally planned government.  The automakers are the bosses, the government are the thugs.

Robert Norton ends the piece by essentially blaming liberals, but says nothing of so-called conservatives lack of will to put an end to all federal regulation, as well as the subsidizing of preferred segments of the economy, like the auto industry.  Essentially, what is missed time and again in these ‘conservative’ pieces is that of 535 in congress about 533 or so are statists.  They all think that the state is the answer: as long as my guy is in charge.

Many (though not all) of the originators of the United States government felt that a divided government was a good one.  The U.S. Constitution was a compromise document that provided for a stronger union, while still holding the government in check because of how it limited its powers.  If the Executive branch can create an edict that must be followed as law, then that concept is LONG gone.  If all 50 States fall in line, without nullifying such edicts according to the 10th amendment, then there is no division of power.  Without division of power, there is no lesser evil of divided government.

So now as Mark of Free Talk Live fame (my absolute favorite audio show), often says, we have a government “of the lawyers, for the corporations, by the lobbyists.”

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We Need More Police Patrols!

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In my “News Flash: Nobody Crashed on The Antelope Valley Freeway” entry, I mentioned a single episode where a multi-car accident could be the catalyst for drastic measures in highway control.  The first of these measures to “fix” the crash crisis would be to add more police patrols on the freeway.

We Need More Police Patrols!

At what cost?  Contrary to popular belief, police are not free protection.  So, in order to have more police patrols on the Antelope Valley Freeway, we have several considerations.

1. We could hire more officers and buy more motorcycles or cars, equipment, guns and ammo.  Just how much does a single added officer cost per year?  Well, after reading this OC register article, I will estimate the annual cost to be at least $120K per year in Southern California (and this is a modest estimate…it does not include the top-end estimate of health care, retirement, education “bennies,” which of course the officer would receive).  But that is just salary.  Let’s not forget the vehicle cost, uniforms, ammo and gun.  The cost of a good police car would be at least $35,000 according to this yahoo discussion (maybe higher according to this piece) and the annual operating costs would be in the thousands.

Of course, the vehicle could always be confiscated through the drug war.  You know, that never ending war on people who wish to put things into their own bodies by people who know better than they do.  However, don’t be fooled.  In a monetary sense only, a confiscated vehicle certainly is not free.  Imagine the cost of the operation that obtained the vehicle.  How many man-hours?  Oops, I digress.

police cars

2. Instead of adding to the force, we could divert police resources to the highway.  This, of course is the lesser of 2 evils since this would be cheaper.  However, in the fantasy world of public opinion, it means less officers out there to deter “violent criminals.”  In reality, this actually means less officers to collect the bodies and assess the damages of crimes after the fact, so maybe it would be a better use for the officers.  Also, it would remove them from the previously mentioned “drug war” (a bulk of their workload, but probably less than traffic management), so they can collect fines from traffic violators instead:  six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Two considerations that nobody ever talks about:

1. How effective would more police be in resolving this traffic crisis?  I will keep this short.  Nobody ever does a results-based examination to tell if more police would really “help” in this situation.  Of course, in my hypothetical example there really wasn’t a problem.  It was simply a one-time tragic event that was not indicative of a trend.  The call for more police was simply a knee-jerk reaction, and the government is all too ready to respond with more taxes, more control, and questionable efficacy.  This is a micro example of the larger problem of the State.  Eventually, maybe years later, those extra officers will be diverted elsewhere (probably to the drug war…hee hee).

2. What is the impact on your personal liberty?  Very few ever consider the impact of having more armed employees of the State.  Not only do they suck away private capital and resources (the real source of innovation), but now the State increases its ability to reach out and touch you with it’s increasing monopoly on violence.  Because of calls to fix a non-problem, the State gradually usurps more power from you.

So what do you think about having more police patrols on the highway?

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Legislation follies: An Example from “Above”

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Here is a story about an FAA proposal to forbid pilots from using phones, laptops, or iPads in the cockpit at any time.
As with most laws these days (and throughout history), this is ridiculous legislation.  It is a perfect example of a government (perhaps a society) that thinks EVERYTHING can be legislated.  First of all, this one strikes a little close to home.  As a pilot, I use my smartphone to look up airfield data, approach information, important phone numbers, etc.  None of this requires internet connectivity.   It is a cheap alternative to expensive installed equipment, and thanks to fltplan.com and the free market (and the internet is really the only thing close to a truly free market any more), I have a wealth of information easily at my fingertips with a smartphone app.  I do this by managing my own workload.  Without any law whatsoever, I know that I don’t use my smartphone on final approach, in bad weather, or any other time that the workload is high.  Imagine that.
Why not make laws that tell pilots when they can look at each display?

Why not make laws that tell pilots when they can look at each display?

Similar to laws that try to legislate morality, no amount of rule-making will reduce if a pilot is distracted.  This requires professional attitude and discipline.  I simply do not want to waste time discussing about whether this is a good idea.  Of course pilots shouldn’t be distracted!

The real discussion is about whether government regulation is necessary in every aspect of human behavior.  The truth is that government regulation is simply not necessary in almost all endeavors.  This includes roads, traffic signals, utilities, and police, fire, and other security services.

Expand your thinking.  Here is a 7-minute video on how traffic management is simply not necessary (thanks John Stossel): http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/4304480/do-we-really-need-traffic-lights/
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