Thursday, October 20, 2005

Safety Leads to Complacency

Once again delving into the depths of memory and, by means of a cursory awareness of history gleaned by a lot of reading, I find that government edicts achieve the opposite ends for which they were enacted.

Don't you find those millions and millions of little stickers on everything you buy demeaning, annoying, ineffective and distracting, not to mention ugly? Isn't it ridiculous that they always use this footless, handless, round-headed stick figure getting smashed, bent, spindled and mutilated by falling, smashing, crushing, dropping and drowning, not to mention getting electrocuted by just about anything with which he might come into proximity?

I recall those heady days in which step ladders didn't have stickers that warn you that you can fall off. They were made of wood then, not superconducting aluminum. Cars didn't have labels telling you to fasten your seat belts--hell what's a seat belt? Radios, tvs and other electric appliances didn't have labels warning against opening up the back--at times, you had to open 'em up. Radios and tvs had tubes that occasionally had to be replaced. Most appliances were built so that they could be taken apart and repaired in the home, if you happened to be handy and had the tools.

Now, I don't miss the days of vacuum tubes and brush-and-bushing kits. I don't even mind that these appliances are no longer repairable with a crescent wrench and a claw hammer, but those moronic stickers and safety labels really tweak my sense of the sensible.

There isn't anyone who doesn't know that you should unplug the item from the electrical source before digging into its guts. Everyone knows it's potentially dangerous to stand on the top rung of a step ladder. I usually use a seat belt in my car, but not because there used to be a little sticker telling me to do so (I peeled the dam thing off, along with all those other stupid stickers). I don't wear them because the 'trolls will cite me if I don't. I don't wear them to save myself in a collision--I'd rather avoid a collision. I wear them so that I can more easily keep my ass in the seat during hard cornering.

The problem is complacency. When you "feel safe," you usually aren't safe. You get lazy. You lose your edge. A compression tester didn't used to have a cage around it; you just knew not to stand close to it as the pressure rose. Drive belts didn't have guards; you kept your fingers out of the way.

The temptation is to say we were smarter then. We paid attention to what we were doing. Of course, there were injuries. It was almost always the dumb guy or the kid who was doing something he shouldn't.

I'm also not opposed to passive safety devices and safe work practices. I am opposed to edicts from government drones who've never worked a day in their lives. I'm opposed to dumbing down. I'm opposed to making the entire world child safe.

Sometimes goal seeking entails taking risks. Sometimes you have to do really dangerous things. Sometimes the danger is worth it. I'll look out for my safety, thank you very much.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

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