What’s government doing? Category

When a large corporation is about to launch a new product or service, it does test marketing, asking groups of actual customers for their view of the existing products or services, and asking whether this innovation will improve their experience. No business would dare risk upsetting its customers. That way lies bankruptcy. So why does this not work with law-making? In a sense it already happens but in a much more chaotic way. When a new bill is proposed, the news media alert the public and there’s a period ofRead More
When it comes to deciding what vehicle to buy, people still tend to go for the look and feel first, followed by auto safety proved through crash testing, and only come to the cost of running the vehicle last. What’s the evidence for this? The sales figures for the makes and models sold in 2012 show only a minority of people bought environmentally friendly vehicles. The majority continued the habit of buying gas guzzlers. In the first instance, this places pressure on the aging oil refineries to continue the processingRead More
Welcome to New Jersey where law-makers are out to deal with the problem of the drunk driver. These people drink knowing they are going to drive and then recklessly get behind the wheel, not caring whether they are fit to drive. This sees the legislature moving to improve highway safety by giving the drivers a chance to change their behavior. At the end of June, 2013, the NJ Senate passed a law on a vote of 34 to 2. There are always one or two holdouts. The point of theRead More
If you ask for an official explanation of why so many police cars have license-plate readers mounted, you’ll hear how useful they are in recovering stolen vehicles or catching criminals. That’s mildly reassuring. It gives the impression the only process is to collect the license plate and then check it against the local and FBI list of vehicles wanted for some law enforcement purpose. What makes this interesting is that, thanks to Edward Snowden, the federal government has now admitted to collecting vast amounts of data on the phone callsRead More
Every vehicle now rolling off the production lines around the world comes with onboard computers to control different engine and mechanical systems, and to act as monitoring and warning devices to alert the driver to potential problems. In the majority of vehicles, this data is collected and may be downloaded at appropriate times or transmitted to “interested persons”. When the state and federal government collects it, the intention is to improve the layout of highways and to identify new ways in which the safety of drivers can be enhanced. WhenRead More
As a species, humanity is rather lazy. It prefers to consume whatever is cheap, convenient and plentiful. The moment it becomes obvious there will be problems in locating the raw materials or you realize the cost of some products will rise, there are a hundred-and-one reasons suddenly found to continue with the cheap, plentiful stuff. So the world is addicted to fossil fuels. The alternate renewable sources of energy are more expensive to develop. The result is resistance to abandon coal and oil even though they may be damaging theRead More
Nobody ever said politics is a game for the faint of heart. If you can see an advantage in a situation, you go for the jugular and never worry about the consequences. At least that’s the way the game is played in Texas where Governor Rick Perry is gunning for Rosemary Lehmberg of Travis County. To understand the situation, the clock needs to go back to April when Ms Lehmberg, who happens to be the District Attorney for a hold-out democratic area in predominantly Republican Texas. Anyway, long-time prosecutor butRead More
America is a vast country and moving from one place to another is most convenient if you have access to private transport. Of course anyone with the money can buy their own vehicle but to drive it on the public roads, you need both a driver’s license and insurance. If you step back a few years, Eliot Spitzer suggested that all the illegal immigrants in New York should be allowed to get a driver’s license by producing a foreign passport as proof of identity. At that time it was estimatedRead More
On the final Tuesday in May 2013, Florida joined forty other states that have put laws on to their statute books imposing a formal ban on texting while driving. This should not be a controversial measure. Anyone interested in auto safety will tell you mistakes are more easily made when you’re distracted. The more the distraction invites you to take your eyes off the road, the more likely it is you will crash into something or someone. So there were plenty of photo opportunities for Governor Rick Scott as heRead More
The people elected to represent us and make laws are ordinary but with more ambition to make a mark on the world. There’s nothing magical about entering the place with these impressive columns and stone roofs. Although they would like us to think them special, they remain as weak and corruptible as everyone else. That’s why the standards applied to judge their performance should be objective and honest. If they fail, the reason for this judgement should be obvious. When it comes to the question of the auto insurance mandate,Read More