The Dignity of Risk

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A reader took issue with me over my recent column about papier mache cars. He argued that:

“Cars and bumpers and hoods can be replaced. You cannot. Sure you can be repaired but given the large number of traffic fatalities, this can’t be ignored. Future generations will wonder at how we as a society/planet tolerated such huge dangers. Thousands dead each year.”

I am not suggesting people drive cars that are less – or more – crashworthy. I merely suggest that they be free to choose for themselves.

Obesity and diabetes “kill” thousands, too. Should the government be empowered to fine people who eat too much candy? Or to threaten everyone with fines who doesn’t exercise regularly? Some people (e.g., the loathsome Michael Bloomberg) think so! And they think so because it empowers them to control others. To control everyone.

I think differently.

I think a free man has the right to assume the dignity of risk; to weigh for himself the pros and cons – and to accept whatever consequences (good and bad) flow from his choices. To not be controlled – and to control no one else.

This is freedom. This is liberty.

No one else is harmed thereby – unless the idea that someone else’s poor choices impose an obligation enforceable at gunpoint upon others who had nothing to do with those choices is accepted as morally legitimate.

I can think of almost no doctrine more vicious or evil. To be held responsible for harms caused by others; to be restricted – and punished – without having caused any harm to anyone else.

Whom did I harm by driving a ’74 Beetle for several years after college? The car was incredibly flimsy in terms of its ability to protect me in a crash. But I never did crash the VW  – and so its crashworthiness was irrelevant. A hypothetical benefit I chose to forgo in return for the actual and tangible benefit of a very light (just 1,600 pounds) and very simple and very inexpensive car. Those attributes mattered to me, as a young man with not much money, much more than the car’s hypothetical “crashworthiness.”

Nowadays, young people without much money are denied that choice.

What gives anyone the right to tell another adult that they may not drive a certain type of car – or that a car must meet their standards?

Are we children? Property?

Are you?

The answer has to be one – or the other – because a free man isn’t either of those things and yet he is forced to buy a “crashworthy” car, because some people believe they are either the parents of other adults or that they have a kind of ownership interest in other adults and that their interest in protecting their property justifies such things.

If a man is free then he has the absolute right to weigh and assume risk – and accept the consequences as well as reap any benefits.

It does not matter, morally, whether other people are not comfortable with the risk being assumed. Or even if the risk assumed results in harm to the person who chose to assume it.

It is none of their business.

The usual reply is that it may become their business – either in the form of direct or incidental harm to them.

But this conjecture – not fact. And to arrogate the power to lord it over others based on conjecture about what may happen – before anything happens – is to arrogate power without limit, because anything can be conjectured – and anything may happen.

What actually happens is another matter.

To require that it actually does happen – that harm is caused – before holding the person accountable is a necessary prerequisite of justice because it is the incarnation of injustice to make a man pay for a harm he has not caused.

Also to make others pay for the harm he has caused, if he does cause it.

This is the usual basis for justifying punishing – and controlling – people who’ve caused no harm to anyone, including themselves – but might.

The argument is that – as in my case – driving a car that is not as “crashworthy” as it could be if it were more heavily constructed, had multiple air bags – and so forth – puts society at risk of harm. That if I had an accident and had been injured, the costs of my injuries would be born by society and thus, society has the moral right to apply pre-emptive protection measures to assure the risk to myself is lower, in order to protect itself from liability.

This doctrine is even more vicious than the first (that free adults are in fact idiot children or a species of property, like cattle) because it is essential to the power of the first doctrine.

It is the method by which free men can be treated as idiot children and cattle without actually calling them those things, openly.

There is no such thing as society except in a rhetorical sense. There are only the individual men and women who, together, exist in society.

The fact that people exist in society does not give “society” rights, let alone rights superior to those of actual men and women.

You attend a dinner party; there are other people present. Your are in society with them. Attending the dinner party doesn’t give your host the right to force you to eat what is served nor you to force him to serve you.

In practice, “society” – as defined by the Bloombergs who crave to rule it – is a few of the individuals who exist within it who presume to have parental or ownership rights over other individuals within society. They claim to “represent” society. Perhaps they do speak for some of the individuals within society – but certainly not every individual. In which case, the not-represented individuals are treated as idiot children and property by the those who think they are the parents and owners.

But instead of being honest about this, they talk about the costs to society of risks taken, of choices made -whether harm is caused or not.

This is a danger that “future generations will wonder at how we as a society/planet tolerated.”

. . .

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  1. Nice to see your thinking cap on such fine display with this article. Hard to dispute any of your logic on personal assumption of risk. It is an inherent part of human choice and dignity.
    There are however some practical problems with enjoying taking safety risks with a vehicle you built or buy. For a self built one, no problem other than probably legal (getting registered, insured). See below for those.
    If you are building vehicles for sale, mass produced (the only way affordable ones can be marketed to a mass public) you have impossible problems with liability for selling something deemed unsafe or substandard should the driver/occupants/injured claim that your vehicle was partly or wholly liable for damages. Ultimately judges and juries decide fault, liability and damages if any. Big manufacturers face serious obstacles when far more sympathetic victims appear as plaintiffs. Even selling one stripped down unsafe but fun vehicle creates far more potential liability than profit for this. I assume Eric would want to sue folks whose products cause damage/hurt him and his. That requires others to take responsibility for their actions just like you must.
    Second, the majority of people in any society seem to be risk adverse to possible hurt. That is arguable but for adults, a reasonable assumption. When manufacturers of any product can get the government to endorse or mandate what are then seen as legal minimum safety standards, both they and the public are willing to accept these, whether you are or not. If they are not met (say in a vehicle they sold to you even with full disclosure) then your are un-insurable and likely in some sense “illegal” by selling defective goods.
    In many instances with either little damage potential or special liability waivers, safety standards might not be applicable or a problem. Otherwise they are. You as a consumer have little recourse, whether or not your risk is willing and known. Sorry, your “experimental” vehicle can’t be licensed or insured.
    If you personally want to hold others liable for harming you, you have to limit your own choices, absent special circumstances. Whether or not these supposed minimum standards are really needed/effective, or mere techniques to gross up the sales price, etc. is the remaining issue. Probably in many cases they are added on for financial benefit or corporate virtue signaling. Your personal level of risk, like your personal level of minimum government, isn’t going to dictate outcomes in a large, heterogeneous society like ours.

    • So… you’re saying the problem is a society of people who are only too ready to shift the blame onto others at the first opportunity. And one in which the general sentiment and legal mechanisms are on the side of the party with the more impressive “victim credentials” rather than the side of objective justice (insofar as that’s achievable). An effeminate society, in other words.

      I think we agree in our assessments!

    • “Sorry, your “experimental” vehicle can’t be licensed or insured.”
      You are assuming that I and millions of others want your permission to drive and your insurance. You are mistaken.

      You also assume that individuals cannot be held liable if they harm the person or property of another if they do not have your permission to drive. Again, you are mistaken.

      The only individuals who advocate mandatory licensing and insurance for those who have never harmed anyone are criminals, tyrants, and fools who are in need of treatment and education. They need to be given a kick in the rear and sent home.

      • Well-said, Rick!

        There’s so much to unbox, so many unquestioned premises to question. You just questioned a couple of important ones: “Can’t be licensed and insured.” According to whom? Why?

        This business of punishing people before they have harmed anyone because someone is worried they might is perhaps the foundation stone of the tyranny we live under – because so many people have not questioned that premise.

  2. How did society become so neurotic all of a sudden?

    Life is full of risks. Without taking risks, we are not truly living. We’re basically institutionalizing ourselves.

  3. The same argument can and should be applied to “impaired” driving. Nobody should have their life ruined because they COULD have caused an accident. Of course if they weren’t pulling people over on the suspicion of impaired driving, how would the hero’s make their paycheck.

    • Hi Tat,

      Yup; I’ve argued the same for years. The legal definition of “impaired” and “drunk” driving has to do solely with BAC levels; one’s actual driving is irrelevant, legally. Thus, an expert driver like Bob Bondurant (who likes a drink or three) is considered “impaired” and “drunk” according to his BAC even though the dude can outdrive 95 percent of the driving public with 0 BAC. I know this because I have been in a car with him. I also know I am a much better driver “impaired” and “drunk” than my doesn’t-drink-at-all ex-mother-in-law, who was a wonderful woman but an atrociously poor driver.

      But we are afflicted with a “one size fits all” standard based on the least common denominator…

      • Bob was one of my mentors. I had others and learned from them all. From the time I was 12 I practiced 4 wheel drifting around curves. Doing it in a pickup is daunting to say the least. I was in 7th heaven when I finally had a car I could steer with the throttle. I don’t remember Bob being around when I was 12 but he would be later in life. I read every article I could find about the fastest way around a curve.

        Probably nobody ever considered I’d be bored enough running the same route so many times a day I’d hone my skills in a big rig on caliche roads. I’d never try it on pavement.

  4. The problem here is ownership of the roads. If a road was private, I’m sure Eric would not object to these private owners deciding who can drive their roads, and if they so choose, they could reject cars that were too fragile (to the car or the passengers) and thus presented too much of a risk of liability for the owners or their other customers.

    So, how to get the roads private? Well, that’s another entire discussion.

    • Private roads can and do exist. The fastest PSL on a road in Texas is the newest toll road. I’ll never be on it if I have my way since it goes around the communist stronghold of Austin. I avoid central Texas like the plague. San Antonio and on south is now part of Mexico. D/FW is yankees from everywhere including lots of Commiefornia immigrants. They come with money that’s a few times more than Texas pay and then want to make Texas into the state they fled from. Austin, same way and now a stronghold for police tyrants.

      But for years, I worked building roads that were all private. In the last 4 years I worked on one govt. road.

    • All of the roads in our neighborhood are private except for the one county road that goes through and another county road that branches off of it. The county doesn’t maintain/destroy the other roads and the sheriff can’t stop anyone there for traffic violations, not that they ever even patrol out here anyway. Of course they can use the private roads if they have official business just like the general public can except for the dead end roads that are posted (well, it’s up to land owners to try and enforce THAT – you pretty much won’t get any help of any sort from the sheriff department).

      So except for a few “private dead end road keep out” signs there are no speed limits or anything else posted on the private roads. If you go poking around randomly though you might be greeted by a local heavily armed resident or two 😉

    • Hi ET,

      Certainly! I believe the owner of a thing has the absolute right to lay down terms and conditions of use. I also believe the owner of a private road could – in principle – absolve himself of all liability for the thing you describe. Use at your own risk. Only a childish Clover creature would whine that the owner of a road is responsible for his being injured because he wrecked his car sans air bags and all the rest. Choose your ride, weight your risk – reap the benefits – and accept that any losses will be yours to deal with.

  5. Good summary of the Libertarian philosophy. At 64, I am shocked that “Personal Responsibility” has left our national discourse in all forms by both major political parties. Both sides see it as their core business to somehow manage our lives. My dad taught us that real men grow up to take care of themselves and their family no matter what it took and your word was your bond. No weaseling or waffling. This used to be part of the conservative platform. Also committing others to debt was once considered amoral and illegal. Not anymore. Today we have a government spending your future like drunken sailors. I have very little hope for the future of this nation left. But, your column at least picks me up. Keep going. Thanks.

  6. It’s the insurance scam. If people were held to their choices in a proper legal sense they’d stop being idiots. Vehicular “accidents” are rare whereas vehicular crashes due to negligence, being avoidable, are quite common.

  7. I think you’re saying that if Uncle Joe decides to smoke his cigars despite an awareness of the health risks involved, the rest of us shouldn’t be forced to pay for his cancer treatments should those treatments be necessary. I choose to drive a less crashworthy car at my own risk. Okay, my choice. But what’s my responsibility, if any, if a passenger is then maimed or killed in a crash and her relatives weep, “If only he hadn’t been driving that useless piece of tin, my daughter would still be among us mothering her children?” Maybe daughter assumed the risk if informed about the crashworthy co-efficient of the vehicle. It gets rather abstract.

    What worked on the expanding frontier doesn’t work in the crowded, declining city, and we’re somewhere in the middle.

    • Hi Imbroglio,

      If the passenger is an adult – and chose to get in the car – then who else is responsible for any consequences?

      You speak of “what worked.” This begs the question – for whom? According to whom? I wish to decide for myself – and leave you free to decide for yourself.

      Seems reasonable – and more to the point, right – to me.

      • Imbroglio brings up an interesting point Eric – not that I agree, but in a crowded environment it seems that people become that much more paranoid about what others “might” do.

        Maybe the busybody instinct becomes more agitated at the sight of so many people doing things one disapproves of? I have some very politically incorrect theories regarding that + feminism which I’ll refrain from laying out explicitly lest I lose social score points…

    • Since you brought up Cancer.

      When is the Government Corporation going to take responsibility for all the Cancer they have caused dumping chemicals, exposing soldiers to unsafe ordinance, illegal human testing, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention all the outright deaths caused by government.

      You are essentially arguing that the Government Corporation should dictate that Uncle Joe cannot smoke a cigar and dictate his medical treatment, even though the government is the most letal irresponsible entity on the planet.

      What about your argument isn’t tyranny?
      I suggest you need to read more books and at leas try to understand the foundations of freedom and liberty.

    • What is the alternative transportation? A bus? The subway? Young ladies have been raped on subways, killed on buses. We know that just laying in bed avoiding the world is unsafe because it will cause your body to whither and die. Risk isn’t really something that can be managed, just taken into account when making decisions.

  8. The control freaks constantly put people into this group or that group. That is how they try to control society. The Marxist freak show is totally against individuals thinking outside the prison, assuming the dignity of risk and otherwise flaunting their freedom of choice.
    How much of the push toward safety at all costs; or the control of the individual is based on keeping the lid on rising insurance costs? People are often pushed in conflicting directions, especially as consumers. Smoke, drink, take drugs (prescribed, but often harmful), eat junk foods, live unhealthy lifestyles…it’s all in the marketing of one product or another.
    Then on the other hand, people get sick and diseased from lifelong unhealthy habits and require medical intervention at ever higher costs.
    I totally agree with having freedom of choice and accepting the dignity of risk, but few people are prepared to pay for those risks when they come home to roost by beating the odds.

  9. Spot on article, Eric. I’m already dreading the day when my ‘06 goes out and I’m forced to get a newer nanny vehicle.

    Side note…. when I read articles like this one here I’m reminded of another blogger I like from your neck of the VA woods with similar opinions at
    Great independent heat carrying single lady. Bet you’d two would have a lot in common over a cup of coffee. Ok, I’m done playing matchmaker now and will go take care of my car so I can keep it going longer….


    • Sarah, I’m in the process of rebuilding my 93 Turbo Diesel Chevy. 94 is my cutoff date and my 93 and the preceding 92 were the only Turbo Diesels with mechanical injection. There is no computer, air bag nor any other nanny bs on that truck except for the seatbelts that I use devices to keep them loose. I’ve considered having black strips sewn across my shirts so I don’t get stopped for no seatbelt.

      To each their own but that 93 will be rebuildable till long after I’m gone. It will officially be worth nothing…..on the books power seeking bureaucrats write for insurance companies. Keeps my insurance costs down too.

      In my part of the country, the old square body GM pickups are making a huge resurgence. They look good, drive well and are simple to keep roadworthy. A Ranch Hand cowcatcher on the front and they’re nearly indestructible.

  10. If our dear leaders can dictate how much “risk” we’re allowed as an individual, then what’s to stop them from outlawing, say, walking? After all, someone might fall and have a brain hemorrhage. Even worse, the fact that allowable self-risk can be enforced at gunpoint means that we as individuals no longer own ourselves.

    Slavery never ended. It was just “modernized”.

  11. OT but all these cop and firefighter hero series these days are so goddawful bad. Meant to condition us to the heroism of these government welfare leeches. If you ever need one you my friend are fucked. 911 lonestar is playing at this bar I’m at. God its terrible. Everything is propaganda now.

    • Mark, I had to do a search to find out what it was/is. Sounds horribly depressing to me and it’s the reason I walked out of my parents living room one evening when they were watching one of those cop/doc/hero military shows tv was rampant with and I guess, has remained that way. I told them I’d seen more of those shows than I could tolerate. They just looked at me. I went outside, got in the pickup and tore off to freer places. Back then it was easy to do. You could pull up into someone’s back yard and sit around and tip a few cold ones and leave the “homies” in their homes with their propaganda machine.

      We often gathered at a barn in the sticks, cooked and ate and played ping pong or poker. Those were the days my friend.

  12. I absolutely support each individual’s right to take as much risk (upon themselves) as they wish.

    We are in need of many more organ donors. 🙂

    • Hi Mike!

      The funny thing about risk is that it comes in so many forms – and so many of us partake one form but are leery of (and critical of, sometimes) another. I drive fast – and ride fast. In vehicles with little protection, if my luck runs out or my judgment fails. So far, so good!

      On the other hand, I don’t smoke and I exercise every day and eat (generally) very healthy – because I eschew the risk of diseases and like to be able to see my dick in the morning, when I pee!

      • Denis Leary, as the somewhat reluctant revolutionary in “Demolition Man”, put it best…

        You see, according to Cocteau’s plan I’m the enemy, ’cause I like to think; I like to read. I’m into freedom of speech and freedom of choice. I’m the kind of guy likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder – “Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?” I WANT high cholesterol. I wanna eat bacon and butter and BUCKETS of cheese, okay? I want to smoke Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the “non-smoking” section. I want to run through the streets naked with green jello all over my body reading a Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly might FEEL the need to, okay, pal? I’ve SEEN the future. Do you know what it is? It’s a 47-year-old virgin sitting around in his beige pajamas, drinking a banana-broccoli shake, singing “I’m an Oscar Meyer Wiener”.

        • HIS tools, right? Dont you DARE ever come round nododling into how I take care of MY tools! Had a control freak dweeb chew on me when he saw a pile of VERY large spanners on a bench in my work area. They had RUST on them….. and HE, who likely could not tell one end from the other on a combination spanner, DARED to chew on me that if I don’t take better care of my tools I won’t HAVE any before long. What he didn’t know, or bother to learn about, is that I’d just picked up that pule of HUGE spanners used from some second hand store. I paid about a nickel on the dollar for those large spanners, got the whole lot of them for far less than ONE would cost new. And guess what else? I STILL have them, forty five years later, and don’t even think I’ve even used them all. But every so often one of them is the perfect thinga ma bob to do THIS job. At forty to sixty dollars the piece, and I bought the wad for $20, I think Im far ahead of that game. The Snap On trucks always hated me……….

          • it seems like most guys on forums always seem to pay 5% of what something is worth when they buy an item. I see it all the time on gun forums

            • One big reason to have cash in the bank (as opposed to credit and monthly payments) is because when you see a sore dick deal you can jump on it. I used to work with a couple of brothers who started flipping houses in 2009. Today they have a pretty good business splicing fiber and boring roads for conduit. All their equipment was bought from failed contractors for a fraction of the price new.

          • Tionico, it was just yesterday I saw a handle in the top of my pickup toolbox. I reached over and the memories flooded back to me. It was an ancient Crescent wrench. I was reminded how I came by it. My dad did bidness at a local Gulf station and out back there was a overhead gasoline tank for the DPS. Off to the side there was a pile of tools rusted like crazy. I picked around and found that wrench that was solid at that point. I asked the owner if I could use it since a solid crescent wrench is a sure sign nobody has used it or plans to ever use it again. He just said Take it. I put it in a pan of diesel and left it for a while. Then knocked off the rust and got the adjuster to turn and eventually brushed it clean, took it apart and cleaned whee out of it. Then I painted it Chevrolet orange and it’s still wearing that coat of paint and works fine. I’m not above buying some really rusty tools and using a wire wheel on them and then putting some oil on them and they’re good to go. Even smaller stuff goes into the brass polisher and comes out looking great.

            Old tools are the best as evidenced by my 18″ and 36″ Ridgid pipe wrenches, my 1960 set of tools that no longer is a brand. I have ancient grease guns that were the type you fill out of a barrel. Ancient hoists, come a longs and hand hoists. Ancient tools I took out of old tractors that had been sitting in the elemenst for decades with tools never removed from the box with no top. The good stuff cleans up and works well.

            • 8S that reminds me of the hammer my Dad gave me as a present on my 16th birthday. I’m 65 and I still have it. 2 times I had to take it to work to get it straightened out when I used it beyond what it was designed for. Dad passed away 19 years ago but I will keep the hammer forever.

      • Right Eric. Many people will tolerate risk in some areas but not in others.

        In my comment, I was alluding to those who take risks that might lead to dying young. Those who live deep into life won’t have many organs still worthy of recycling. 😉

        I support each person’s right to take the risks they choose, or play it safe all the way.

        But, in the words of John Maynard Keynes……”In the long run, we are all dead.”

  13. Here’s another contradiction: The “liberals” seem to be in favor of assisted suicide, but they have a royal fit because about 20K people a year do it with only the assistance of their trusty firearm.

    Is it My Life – or Not My Life ????

  14. Are we controlled members of a putative beneficent society or are we individuals voluntarily members of a collective? I think human beings will always trade away their freedoms for the fiction of security that comes from government. Witness the effect of paying into Social Security for 40+ years and getting in return a fraction of what that money invested privately would gain.

    Sadly, most are sheep not sheep dogs.

    • If Social In Security were voluntary, it would go broke in ten years, cause no one would pay into it.

      Its not that hard to play by their rules and NOT have to pay into it. Own a company, so many dedictions for business, use of home, etc live and work on the same piece of dirt, you don’t have to fund, with your rent/lease paments, someone else’s kid through what they call college these days One can live on the cheap when one’s home is also his workplace. The allowable exempt income threshhold is generous….

      • Hi T,

        Among the many vile things about SS is that – unlike a legitimate annuity -when the person who paid in for decades dies, his family gets nothing. His heirs are defrauded – just as as he was.

    • I have heard that when people started collecting in the 80’s in 8 months they got what they paid into it. people I know just filed and are getting 1200-1400 a month. they did not put that amount in

      • The first person to receive SS benefits (Ida May Fuller) paid $24.75 into the system and took out $22,888.92.

        The first generation recipients did very well, since most of them didn’t pay into the system their entire lives. And the dollar was basically stable throughout their lives. Social Security wasn’t going to return anywhere near what a “riskier” portfolio could have done, and for sure wasn’t going to compete with a defined benefit pension. But again, someone thought Americans should be required to have a retirement plan. I seriously doubt the numbers given by SS advocates when it comes to how many people had retirement savings. Back then it was pretty easy to hide savings and the world was going through massive deflation as electricity and automation in factories took hold.

        And back then, people never spoke of their wealth, so if some carpetbagger from DC shows up asking a bunch of questions he probably won’t get the truth.

        • Hi RK,

          In re SS: For people my age (Gen X) and younger (Millennials) one of the greatest – and hidden – gyps is the opportunity cost of SS. I am a long way from retirement age, but the money stolen from me since I began working to finance other people’s retirement could have been used by me to increase my wealth right now – putting me in a position to retire sooner and more comfortably.

          Of course, my needs – like yours and every other responsible person’s needs – come second to those who are not responsible.

          And without limit.

  15. Today returning home from the store on my Chinese 50cc scooter a woman that looked to be in her late 60’s stepped out in front of me and I almost hit her. Her reason? She told me to wear a helmet. I had to tell her twice to get the hell out of the way and what I did was my business. She of course had no problem stepping out in front of my scooter where we both could have got hurt.

    • You could have pulled out a gun and shot her in the leg. Then scolded her for not carrying a gun herself for her own protection. Same idea. If you want to wear a helmet on a scooter, fine. If not, fine too. Either the nanny state demands that we all wrap ourselves in bubble wrap or we tell them to shove it. I say they can shove it.

    • Anybody remember Joan Claybrook, Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of Transportation? She wanted air bags on motorcycles and two nannies for every adult to make sure no harm came to Uncle Sammy’s children. Some idiocies never fade.

      • Hi Ross,

        Claybrook is the incarnation of all that’s gone wrong; a harpy dingbat leading us by the ear lobes… for our “safety.”

        Another was Bob Doooooooooooooooole’s wife.

  16. With millions of those defective Takata airbags with their exploding metal shrapnel still out there, is that 1974 Bug all that less safe to be honest?

  17. The old VW bugs could roll down a mountainside and the occupant(s) could survive just fine.

    Then you could tip them back on their wheels and add some oil and drive them home!

    • Ol’ Ferdy Porsche knew what he was doing! Those Kubelwagens were actually even more durable and mobile than the much bally-hooed “Jeep”, though they pulled a lot less and were worse for stability at speed…which, trundling over those muddy, rutted quagmires the Russians called “highways”, wasn’t really an issue. And the “KdF” car, or “Kafer”, as the Germans termed it, was really intended to be a general-purpose car for the WEHRMACHT. That whole thing about the bamboozled Germans that saved some DM 280M (which funds the Soviet Army confiscated from a Berlin bank in 1945) was so they’d help raise the necessary capital at Wolfsburg…the interesting thing is, Hitler’s nickname was also “Herr Wolf”!

  18. At the risk of depressing you further, Eric, and making your shoulder ache again, here is this from Nissan:

    “A rising number of elderly drivers — and pedal misapplication crashes — in its home market has compelled Toyota to engineer a solution.

    The automaker announced Monday that a new “acceleration suppression function” combining data collected from real-word driving and its existing Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver-assist features will determine, and intervene, when a driver hits the wrong pedal.”

    Acceleration suppression function…haha. This doesn’t end until we are totally unable to pilot our own vehicles. That 30 mph e-Bike is looking better and better.

    • Going on 71 I am still riding motorcycles,,, can still operate the air conditioning controls while driving,,, and can still determine the brake from the accelerator. Especially In the last few years I have seen idiots from all ages driving in such a manner that my wife and I just shake our heads and laugh.The folks my age seem to like driving with one foot on the accelerator and one on the brake. You can tell by their brake lights flashing on and off while their going down the road. Another is prescription drugs. They’re so drugged up they cannot handle driving. Drive with one beer and your fined and jailed. I do believe it is like Eric said,,, They are used to being monitored and coddled and told how to think that they cannot function.

    • One solution – one pedal. Press on the pedal to go, and when you let off of it the brakes are gradually applied. I believe that it could work. Any comments ?

      • Hey Nathan,

        “Press on the pedal to go, and when you let off of it the brakes are gradually applied”

        Emergency braking?

        Possible answer: The louder you scream, the more braking?

      • When I learned to drive, cars actually had three pedals (Gasp!). If you counted the high beam dimmer there were four pedals (double gasp!) Yet in those days there were no problems with people, even seniors, making fatal mistakes with their pedals. I know it’s counter intuitive, but it would seem that the fewer pedals one has to manipulate the greater the odds of grievous error.

        • The less involvement required by any activity, the less interesting it becomes. The less interesting an activity becomes, the less focus we have on said activity. In the case of driving, the result is pretty obvious.

          • bg, that’s the reason pilots getting ready for a particular night flight practice for at least a month all the things they’ll be required to do during that flight.

            They have to get their circadian rhythms changed to begin with and get their night vision honed in for just a couple things. I hear difficult maneuvers at night are not something you keep on hand for the spare moment. Makes sense to me.

    • I hope I’m either dead or my keys taken away before I’m so incompetent some gorram computer tells my car to not accelerate when I need to cross a busy intersection. Dear Lord, give me strength for these days.

    • Some people maintain that senility starting at an early age in people these days, is caused by (too many?) vaccines containing mercury and aluminum given to infants.

      Many years ago, senile drivers mistaking the accelerator for the brake pedal did not seem to be an issue. What has happened to the population since there now is an epidemic of senile middle aged people? A few days ago, I watched a danish TV program about a 49 years young man, already suffering so severely from Alzheimer’s that he could not function anymore in a job etc.

      • Hi Jone,

        I remember the “sudden unintended acceleration” issue; it involved Audis – and the issue was (apparently) pedal placement. European cars had tighter pedal placement than most Americans were used to at the time and people new to European cars mistook the accelerator for the brake and… well, you know the rest!

        Audi as almost destroyed by this – though the problem was not with the cars but with the drivers.

        • Not to excuse confused folks who hammer the throttle instead of the brake pedal, but with my size 13 EEEE-width feet I sometimes simultaneously hit the brake and throttle on my stick shift import cars. That doesn’t happen with my big Mopar vehicles.

        • eric, I had to get used to that Z 71, probably only 3 years of that body style and it was molded to the driveline which sucks since you pay for it in the interior and underneath. I kept having the brake on and the accelerator at the same time. It took me a long while to stop mashing both. Being a trucker I’m not accustomed to pedal close together. I did have trouble going from a brake pedal like a big flat pedal to a typical car like pedal it took me a while to make the transition.

    • That will work fantastically when you need to stomp on the gas to swerve out of the way if a dog/kid runs into your path. Of course “lane keep assist” will probably keep you from swerving in the first place so you’ll be forced to run the poor bastard down.

  19. “Data is the new oil.”
    ― Clive Humby, UK Mathemetician

    “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
    ― Yogi Berra

    Regulators and bureaucrats are tasked with solving the worlds problems with laws and rules. But to do that they need to test their ideas. But that isn’t possible since you really cannot reduce the test down to a single variable, so they run a few simulations and see what the result is. Once they have a solution they implement it. When the unforeseen consequences begin to manifest themselves in the real world, the model must be restarted and altered to reflect the new reality. But that requires more data to be gathered, more studies to be done, more simulations to be programmed. But even if it were possible to have ALL data, the model wouldn’t be able to account for chance.

    I’m typing this from a hotel room in Las Vegas, a town that shouldn’t exist. Everyone knows the odds are against them in a casino. It’s pretty clear the casino didn’t get built so opulently and so beautifully because the investors planned on losing money. The overwhelming majority of people here are dumping money into the city. But a few actually come out ahead and a very small minority actually are able to earn enough to live a somewhat comfortable life. It happens. Even though any bureaucrat looking at the data would say it can’t.

    You can lay at home in bed and die. Or you can get on with life and die. Either way the end is the same for everyone.

  20. “Future generations will wonder at how we as a society/planet tolerated such huge dangers. Thousands dead each year.”
    Yes, they will wonder why we tolerated socialism and its big brother, communism. Both have killed millions over the last century. And the root cause of both? Tolerance of faceless bureacrat apparatchiks running a central government. Lack of an ability to correct the injustices these bureacrats cause, due to lack of a means to fight them (the US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment as an example of enshrining the means to resist in law, the USSR and others grabbed guns as their first step).

    So, Clover sweetums, more central government control over the thickness of automotive sheet metal is a good thing, remind me how?

  21. Practically every act is a result of a risk/reward decision. A decision which the Sociopaths In Charge, in their infinite wisdom, have determined we are not capable of, since we make such decisions in our own interests instead of the interests of said sociopaths. There is no freedom without the freedom to fail. By taking risks, new ideas and methods are discovered, rewards become possible.

  22. We got to the freak’n moon, without a federal department of education AND cigarette ashes all over the controls at the launch center.


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