Thursday, December 2, 2010

You can't legislate the randomness out of life

Existentially speaking, life seems to be a series of random events (at least to those of us here--those Higher Powers may see a pattern from their vantage point).  We try to think that maybe there is a reason for things that happen--something as small as a guy's SUV that hits black ice and he dents a fender, or things that are experienced by folks like Brigid or Ambulance Driver (you will have to read their recent postings here and here to understand).  The point is, that life isn't safe.  It can't be and still be considered to be life.  If it's static, then there is no change, no innovation, no laughter, no tears.  We can take all of the precautions we want, but we cannot remove the randomness from our lives.  And this is a good thing.  Unfortunately, there are those who don't realize that sometimes pain is the best teacher.  Combine that with a lack of personal responsibility, and it's a combination made in nanny-state heaven.

I'm wavering between two ways I can take this post--the more philosophical or the more political.  So I'm going to take a shot and try to do both.  For the political:  those in power are trying to legislate the randomness out of life.  This is doomed to failure.

It started small with bicycle helmets and seat belts--which ballooned into airbags and crumple zones and all of those things that make it easier to survive a crash but also insulate the driver from the world and coincidentally raise the cost of vehicles and negate the idea of having those gas-friendly cars that are promulgated in Europe.

It started small in a world where stupidity is rewarded by our courts (the McDonald's coffee in the lap incident), more rules are created to protect people from pain--guess what, you put piping hot coffee in your lap, it might spill and burn you.  But then there 'needed' to be rules--things must be labeled as hot or spicy or whatever to try to release a person from being aware of their environment.

It started small with 300 people getting sick from eggs or 4000 getting sick from lettuce or jalapenos (.000333% of the population of the United States).  Now the government is trying to use that as an excuse to takeover the entire food producing industry in the United States.  All to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars that they extort from the people of this country.

But where did it really start?  Perhaps with our educational system which values self-esteem over self-reliance and knowledge.  Perhaps with the pyscho-babble of the 1970s and 1980s where people were absolved of responsibility for their actions because they weren't breast fed or because they didn't get a pony for Christmas when they were eight years old.  Perhaps with the continuing meme that encourages the abrogation of responsibility to the state, the police, anyone but an individual.  Maybe it's a combination of all of those things.

But at the bottom of it all:  the Tea Party and those who got the message can go in and try to end the throwing of excessive amounts of money at small problems but if people don't realize that with that, they are going to have to stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for their choices and their lives, then we will be back in the same boat.  And it will start small.  It is not a truism that if you don't sweat the small stuff, it will take care of itself.  We need to sweat the small stuff in order to regain our country.  And for that to work, individuals need to re-learn the idea that pain happens, but that it's worth the cost to learn to truly live and be free.


Anonymous said...

You know, the McDonald's coffee case is probably the most popular example of frivolous lawsuits, because it sounds so ridiculous. It's so famous that nobody bothers to look it up. Which is why nobody knows that the lady who sued McDonalds did so because she ended up in the hospital for eight days with third degree burns and needed skin grafts. Yeah, what a ridiculous case, I can't believe how the courts rewarded her for being stupid enough to expect a cup of coffee not to destroy her skin on contact and send her to the hospital.


I do agree with you for the most part, but I'm sure there are other examples you could have used that would have actually supported your point rather than detract from it.

Midwest Chick said...

I read the information at the link that you sent and I stand by my use of the McDonalds case as an abrogation of personal responsibility.

The woman was 72 years old at the time and I'm guessing it was not her first time drinking McDonalds coffee so should have been aware that it was hot (by the way, a similar suit was brought in England and was thrown out as it should have been).

There was no way that McDonalds could be aware of the fact that the sweat suit she was wearing would soak up the coffee and keep it next to her skin. So why didn't she sue the sweat suit manufacturer for making a sweat suit that was ultra-absorbent? Additionally, the car was stopped. There was nothing preventing her from getting out and skinnying out of the sweat pants to prevent further injury.

Additionally, and most importantly, she took control of the coffee and the automobile had left the drive-thru. Once she left, McDonalds control of the coffee was zero. She placed the coffee between her thighs herself and opened the lid and spilled the coffee on herself.

How could McDonalds be held responsible for her actions?? If they had spilled it on her at the drive-thru or if the cup had been defective, then perhaps there could be some culpability.

I am sorry that the woman was hurt. But the severity of her wounds does not de facto make McDonalds responsible for them. Deeper pockets should not be a deciding factor in cases like this.