Friday, April 16, 2010


Recently a friend sent me an email with a video in it that showed the streets of San Francisco when cars had just arrived; people had to run to get out of the way! In those days, there were few "watch your step" signs, and there were almost no laws that protected people from doing stupid things.

And it got me to thinking: Seems like, in those days, people had to have more responsibility for themselves and their actions; they had to be more aware of their surroundings, because the world was, perhaps, a more dangerous place.

I'm all for the world being a safer place; and I am also disturbed at the trend (which is now perhaps changing) that has led to people not taking responsibility for what they do. The woman spilling hot coffee in her lap is just one example of things we see every day. And the courts and insurance companies, to a great extent, have rewarded their behavior. Because the insurance companies want to subrogate claims (sue whoever is responsible on your behalf), and because there is often a law firm that will take a case on a contingent basis.

Sure, it is good to put up a sign that says "Do not stand too close to the edge" at the Grand Canyon, but when there is a law that requires that the switch for the garbage disposal be positioned such that you can't turn it on if your hand is in the drain...

I like to think about what sort of things happen if taken to the extreme. It is the sort of argument about the camel getting his nose under the tent. Or slowly warming a frog in water -- you've heard these. Do something gradually, no one will notice. Do it quickly, everyone objects. Eventually, if the trend continues, no one will have any responsibility for anything; the government will take care of us. (See how that's been working...)

The current administration seems to want to continue to expand the role of government in our lives; to continue the trend of reducing personal responsibility. Fortunately it seems like the pendulum is swinging back the other way.

Just for a moment, think about what different decisions you would make in your life, if there was no insurance. Get in an accident, and lacking any criminal elements, you pay for your problems, they pay for theirs; no lawsuits. No tort claims. I bet we would all be MUCH safer drivers! We might all think twice about when to change lanes, whether we should drive when we are tired, etc.

Come to think of it, maybe we should do that anyway!


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