Another $200 “For The Children”

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Well, here we go – again.

You can expect your next new car to cost at least another $160-$200 more than it otherwise would – now that back-up cameras are about to be made the latest mandatory piece of “safety” equipment you’ll be forced to buy, beginning with the 2014 model year.

NHTSA – the government organ that spews these mandates – announced its intentions this week, inviting “public comment” on the proposed rule. But don’t waste your breath (or you keystrokes). NHTSA doesn’t care whether you want to pay an extra $160-$200 for a back-up camera you don’t need – because you can see what’s behind you for free by turning around and looking using your own eyes before you back up. The “final version”of the rule that will set the mandate in stone is on its way to Congress already. And if you expect any (or many) Congress Creatures to vote “against safety” rather than “for the children,” there’s a nice bridge for sale in Brooklyn, too.

The odious Clarence Ditlow – one of the first-generation shysters to make it to the really big time – predictably clucked his approval: “We haven’t done anything else to protect pedestrians,” he said.(See here for the NY Times article.)

I don’t know about “we” – but I do know that I (and probably, many of you, too)  look before we back-up. Maybe people with neck problems (or poor eyesight) could benefit from a back-up camera. But why should those of us who don’t need such “help” be forced to pay for it anyway?

Because “we” need it, Clarence would tell you. Just as “we” needed airbags (after they failed in the free market) and all the rest of it.

But the last thing most of us need right now is the extra cost this mandate will impose. And if $160-$200 per car doesn’t seem all that high, consider the total: $2.7 billion. This is NHTSA’s own estimate of the costs, industrywide – and sure to be lowballed. Not factored into the cost equation, for example, are the down-the-road repair (more likely, replacement) costs. Which you’ll be forced to pay, it’s important to note, because it is a legal requirement that all factory-installed, government required “safety” equipment be intact and operational in order to pass the annual “safety” inspections that are likewise mandatory in most states.

That means down the road, when the back-up camera/LCD display monitor cease working – which they inevitably will –  you will be required to get them fixed – or stop driving the car. The reply will surely be, oh, electronics are inexpensive. The cost is sure to be low. Yeah. Except for the labor to disassemble and re-assemble everything. So maybe “only” $100 in parts (though even that is probably lowball). Plus $75/hour to install the parts.

Another way to do the math is to divide by the body count. NTHSA and busybody Ditlow point to “95-112” deaths they project will be avoided (mostly by addled idiots driving over their own tots). Leaving aside that most if not all these deaths could be avoided by the simple – and free –  expedient of looking over your shoulder  and making sure no baybees are asleep behind your back tire (and why are baybees out of their parents’ sight to begin with? Isn’t that a parental, you know, responsibility?), the cost per life comes to a staggering $2.4 million per hypothetical life saved.

Is any cost too high when it comes to human life? Sure –  when you’re forcing someone else to bear it.

My life is infinitely valuable to me. How much is it worth to  you? Or rather, at what point does the value of my life impose an obligation on you, enforceable at gunpoint? That’s the real question here.
And the answer is obvious – or ought to be.

“Concerned moms” (who apparently aren’t concerned enough to keep track of their kids) certainly place a high value on the lives of their kids.  They ought to place high concern, therefore, on making sure nothing (and no one) is behind their car before they commence to backing up.If they feel the need of a back-up camera to assist them, fine – then they should pay for it.

To be blunt – someone else’s kid is not my problem. At least, I don’t recognize a moral obligation to accept being forced to buy equipment I don’t need (no kids, good eyesight and I can drive) because a few  parental fools can’t be troubled to look for themselves and whine that they need another electronic nanny to assist them. As for the handicapped – people with bad necks or what have you – they can buy what they need, too. But please, leave me out of it.

Where is this going to end?

There are two possibilities as I see it. One, enough of us stop buying new cars as a way of registering our contempt. I am not encouraged about the chances of this happening – for the same reason I am depressed about the lowing cattle’s acceptance of Gate Rape and all the rest of it. So, I expect more of the same – which will lead to ever-more-expensive cars. Which in time will lead to unaffordable cars – and most of us on the hoof or gaggled together into “safe” public (government) mass transit.

Which is probably the end game anyhow.

Throw it in the Woods?

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Author of “Automotive Atrocities” and “Road Hogs” (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia.

14 COMMENTS

  1. How much is your life to me? Well, I figure you probably pull down a living wage and from your previous comments I’d say you own some material assets I might be interested in. If I figure a 10 year ROI, the cost of feeding and housing you, plus whatever medical care you absolutely require, I guess I’d pay around $10,000 for you. Depends on the kind of work I could get. You any good at fixing cars? How about digging?

  2. Here are some snippets I found online

    An average of 292 people die each year from back-over accidents. Rear-view cameras would cut that number of deaths in half, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    The administration points out that the rule was ordered by Congress in a 2008
    law signed by President George W. Bush

    According to a cost-benefit analysis conducted by the NHTSA, “the costs per life saved ranged from $11.3 million to $72.2 million – above its comprehensive cost estimate for a statistical life of $6.1 billion.”

    “It is an incredibly emotional issue,” said Jeremy Anwyl, the chief executive officer of auto-market researcher Edmunds.com. “And to stand up and start complaining about costs, as they say in Washington, the optics on that are terrible.”

    “In terms of absolute numbers of lives saved, it certainly isn’t the highest,” Mr. Ditlow said. “But in terms of emotional tragedy, backover deaths are some of the worst imaginable.

    • And of course, most of these “tragedies” could have been avoided if the driver had looked before backing up. Made sure there was no tot taking a nap on behind the rear tire.

      We used to live in a cul-de-sac with lots of small kids running around. I always was careful for just that reason. But it also annoyed me endlessly that I had to keep track of other people’s kids. That’s their parents’ job, isn’t it? There was one kid – I think he was slightly special – who I found in my garage a couple of times. Now, that’s bad enough – I don’t want anyone in my garage but me. But beyond the trespassing issue, I had tools, power equipment, stuff on blocks/jacks – all over. This kid could have crawled under something and gotten crushed, or injured himself any one of a dozen different ways. And then I’d be facing a lawsuit, probably – even though the kid went into my garage without my knowledge or permission.

      It’s the same here, as I see it. “Concerned moms” shirking their responsibilities – and demanding that others be made to pay for their mistakes.

  3. 1. The only thing I’ve found a backup camera valuable for is hitching up a trailer, and I can accomplish the same thing with Hitchin’ Rods (http://www.amazon.com/Qworks-Corp-Hitchin-Rod/dp/B00030LM54) for $25 or with just a little more time and $0.

    2. Bravo on the Bastiat reference.

    3. Government is constantly driving the nation backwards, mostly because they have their heads up their asses. No wonder they want everyone else to look bass ackwards.

    4. I want an option to replace the parking guides with on screen crosshairs.

  4. The danger of backing up is grossly underated. That is why I support legislation requiring all people to loudly call out BEEP BEEP BEEP for 5 seconds before, during, and after starting any kind of backward movement within city limits. He must also have an approved safetly light attached to his head. Moving your body backward without warning sounds and lights on a crowded street, might cause someone to be trip and fall onto a busy city street where needless injury and death could result.

    Video of aerial quadrobots playing music is not related:

  5. I predict this will actually lead to more collisions and deaths while backing up. I also predict if (when) blind spot detection becomes mandatory, it will lead to more lane change collisions and deaths.

    Your eyes have much better depth perception, range of view, resolution, and speed detection capabilities than any back up camera and crappy little monitor.

    This – and your eyes should be looking in the same direction as the car is intended to go, not a different direction.

    Here’s the math you fucktarded clovers:

    Assuming 80% of the 311 million Americans drive, and going with high number of 112 deaths a year due to “tot sleeping directly behind back bumper,” you “save” them from the 0.0000452% chance that they’ll squash the precious kid they lost track of a couple hours ago. However, since you’ve now conditioned these cattle to NOT look in the direction they intend to move their car, they miss the 50% chance there’s another car coming at 30 mph+ when backing out of their driveway or parking space.

    This camera is great, as long as everything else around you stops moving.

    What’s next, school bus style fold out stop sign and flashing red light back up mandate for all cars since they can’t see what’s coming towards them in the crappy little monitor?????

    Again – one intervention leads to another, and another, and another, and…

    What is about unintended consequences that clovers don’t understand.

    • Yup. I have driven literally hundreds of new cars with one type of back-up camera or another and can vouch for this. The field of view is much more limited (and one dimensional). Your actual eyes would notice another car or person in the periphery much sooner, among other things. And as you note: Look where you’re driving!

  6. The old “no matter how much it costs, if it saves one life, it’s worth it” argument is economically illiterate. As Frederic Bastiat pointed out over 150 years ago, one must look at what is unseen, as well as what is seen. The unseen in this case is what people have to give up in order to divert their financial resources to the back-up cameras. Maybe settle for a slightly less expensive but less nutritious diet? Maybe forgo a home security system? Or any of a million things. Each of those forgone things will lead to a certain number of deaths that could otherwise have been avoided.

    All of these mandates come down to the government dictating to us what risks we should protect ourselves from, instead of letting us decide for ourselves and take responsibility for our decisions. Grrrrrrrrrrrr

    • Yup – there’s that. And also, the equally deep issue of personal choice. I think it’s wonderful that technology such as this exists; I also think it’s great that people who are interested may purchase it. What infuriates me is that some of these people think they have a right to force others to buy it – either because they (in their infinite arrogance) think they know best what others should have or because they like the idea of lowering their cost of acquisition by spreading the cost of the item around to everyone else, like it or not.

      • It goes a step further, to increase their profits. The companies that make these devices lobby (and probably legally bribe) congress critters to those ends. A mandate is big money.

      • I have a back up camera I bought at Auto Zone for like $40. I use it when I am backing my car trailer. You can’t see anything less than 10 feet behind the camera, so I stick it to the middle of what ever is on the trailer so I can see when the end of the trailer gets near the wall. It is worthless in low light conditions. Depth perception sucks. There is no peripheral vision. the benefits of back up cameras are way oversold.

    • YES! So glad to see you quote the marvelous Bastiat, “Mike in Spotsy”.

      I’m constantly explaining the concept of the unseen good which is stolen for the seen good. It’s a lesson lost on the economically illiterate booboisie.

      For every mandate, there’s a hidden cost: what could have been done with that money by private, motivated investment?

      It applies to every “mandate”. Solar power–a good, taken in isolation, so why not subsidize it? Because if it’s so frikkin’ good, why does it die in the open market? Because intelligent investment says “Hey, I can do better with this money elsewhere; solar’s not ready.” But government thugs with costume badges will hold you up at gunpoint to “invest” in solar…depriving you of money you’d use in enlightened self-interest to do some REAL good elsewhere in your life.

      It’s akin to another crucial Bastiat insight–the broken window fallacy.

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