html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: And I think developers should have to live in the house closest to the weakest levee.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

And I think developers should have to live in the house closest to the weakest levee.

Now, all you freak libertarians are going to be all “let the people lose their houses! Hah! That will teach them to make bad decisions about where to live! And if they drown? Well, too bad, but survival of the fittest, which would totally be me because of my huge brains and enormous cock.”

But the truth is, we cannot let people make decisions about whether to live in floodplains or fire country or in tornado lands or on eroding coasts. Even ones who have the money to express their choices and an understanding of the problem will make choices that put them in danger. Natomas is an affluent community, so I’ll use it as an example so that we don’t get multiple causes intertwined.

There are twenty thousand new residences in Natomas; eighty thousand people live there. They are forecast to be under twenty feet of water within one day of a levee break. People in my office call Natomas the American River Sink; the old maps call Natomas the Lago Americano. Still people move in, despite full disclosure during homebuying. When I asked the flood engineers what they should do, the flood guys were not joking about storing a canoe on the second floor. Only seventeen hundred homes of the twenty thousand have flood insurance.

Part of me thinks that I can’t possibly understand how they can stand the risk. Every year they have about a 1 in 80 chance of losing everything. I wouldn’t cross the street on those odds. But I do understand. I understand denial. I have danced some long slow dances with denial, and I snuggled tighter into his loving arms. You like the house, and there probably won’t be a flood this year, and $550 for flood insurance would pay for that car repair, and everyone you see is in the same situation so it can’t be that bad ‘cause they’re nice people and you’re telling me to move ‘cause of something that might not even happen? I will. Soon. When the kids have to go to a new school anyway.

I don’t see that we have a lot of options. We can’t just say, well, if they live on a floodplain, let ‘em live with floods. When the time comes, we do everything we can so that families don’t drown pinned to their ceilings. When they are destitute afterward, we’re gonna offer some help then too, because that is what we do. Those are very expensive remedies. A physical solution would be awesome, but that would cost billions up front and require riparian landowners to make sacrifices; our political system doesn’t work well under those conditions.

At the very least, I would like us to stop making it worse. I think we cannot let people have the choice of very risky housing choices, because humans are flawed and they will take those risks. I honestly do not know what to do about people already living in Natomas, but I know that I don’t want River Islands to be built. The only solution I can think of is stringent regulation.

45 Comments:

Anonymous rigel said...

well, i truly believe that libertarianism is a peculiar form of mental illness. bordering on what in decades past would be called "antisocial" or "sociopaths".

and also, in keeping with the spirit of your post title, i think that judges, lawyers, and legislators should have to spend time in prison as part of their continuing education licensure.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Rigel, are you new? I don't remember seeing your comments before, but I'm liking them.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blah blah, we've gotta save people from bad decisions. And, water, that's the thing you happen to know about, so, we better regulate the hell out of it.

Maybe people are so willing to take the risk because they KNOW the government will step in and save them. So, maybe letting a whole town built in a stupid area go under, and offering no help would be a wake up call to everyone else?

There are too many people with these causes. I don't have any interest in supporting them. I'm all for letting the people without flood insurance be left with nothing. And let the people without motorcycle helmets smash their heads, and let the people who don't want to wear seat belts fly through their wind shields, and let the people who don't want to buy health insurance suffer with their illnesses at home.

I don't like this, we need to save everyone from everything, nonsense. No matter how many regulations you pass, people are always going to make bad decisions. The best you can do is just stop supporting them.

Justin

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mortgage lenders could have stopped the Natomas situation from arising, simply by refusing to finance houses built in such a dangerous area.

Peter
Iron Rails & Iron Weights

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, they've certainly assessed the risks, and except to be paid back somehow.

So, if there was a high probability of not getting paid back, likely the houses would never have been built.

Justin

5:21 PM  
Anonymous rigel said...

Justin

you're projecting. this is a well-worn, threadbare even, libertarian argument. you say "let THOSE PEOPLE (who quite often are minorities or other dispossessed) bear the brunt of their own bad decisions", subtly and cleverly alluding to your own inherent decisionmaking superiority. perhaps you've never had a particularly bad run of luck, or known anyone who has. the horatio alger pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps cliche has no basis in fact. hard work does not guarantee success.

you and your ilk construct armies of straw men in order to distract others from the fact that simple greed motivates you and that you dont give a flying fuck about what happens to anyone else, because YOU GOT YOURS ALREADY. you dont see libertarians giving everything away and banking on the fact that their perseverance and pluckiness will get them back to a level at or above their previous income, do you?

and i realize that confronting people with what i think is an obvious conclusion to draw about their psyches is not particularly productive, but i've got a lot of rage issues, particularly with the moral superiority crowd, that i have to work out periodically.

and yes, i'm new. hi.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

rigel: Logic of similar quality would suggest that statism (as seen in both the left and right) is a form of megalomania, since it generally involves believing that you are capable of running everyone else's lives better than they are.

My recommendation would be to require flood insurance for areas such as this, the same way we require auto insurance. This removes the moral hazard and makes the residents pay the expected value of their losses up front, rather than passing the buck to the general public.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blah blah, the poor minorities and dispossessed. No one is stopping you from supporting them, if you believe it's worth while.

No one is stopping anyone from running educational programs to try to teach people that wearing a seat belt is a good idea. But, to require it by law? I'm not assuming that I'm any better at making good decisions than anyone else. I'm happy to leave it up to everyone what they find to be an appropriate level of risk for themselves.

Most importantly, I don't want anyone deciding that the things I do are too risky, and need to be regulated.

And, why would anyone give everything away? My dad came from nothing, he put himself through college, then he put himself through law school. I have no delusions, I've had it much easier in life than a lot of people. But, at the same time, my dad chose to give me an easy life, not the rest of the world. He did with his success what he chose. I'll take the advantages and pass them on to my kids someday. I see nothing wrong with that. I don't see that I owe the rest of the world anything for my dad's hard work, or for my success.

Justin

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the loss of life Brian? Surely a bad flood would likely kill people. And regardless of flood insurance, what about the costs of rescuing the people who are trapped?

Justin

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

rigel: Well, we can at least agree that you have issues. Fascinating that you can attack the "moral superiority crowd" while simultaneously claiming that those who disagree with you are mentally ill.

And no, hard work does not guarantee success. But it sure gives you a better chance than sitting on your ass whining about how unfair life is.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Rigel and Brian, I'm thinking you are both new. So you might not have had a chance to see my comments policy.

I require affirmative kindness towards your fellow commenters. Interpret their arguments to assume generous motives and use a friendly tone.

Besides that, be nice to my friends, which everyone here is.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous rigel said...

brian: is it really so fascinating? or are you just not a very keen observer of human nature?

recognizing significant and widespread hazards, and attempting to minimize their impact, and balance that against the freedom of the individual to make their own choices/mistakes hardly seems like megalomania to me. when you make an idol of freedom-to-choose and individuality and start placing the highest importance on that, as opposed to balancing the interest we all have in maintaining and increasing our collective standard of living against it, then you wind up falling into the mental illness i spoke of earlier. if you wish to get into shit-slinging over the legitimacy of the state, then we can go that way too.

justin:
"Most importantly, I don't want anyone deciding that the things I do are too risky, and need to be regulated."
me me me me me. exactly my point.
hey, good for your dad. maybe he taught you this attitude while you were growing up in relative comfort and affluence. but my underlying point is that because of that affluence, you bear a much smaller burden of the risk of bad choices. for you to wave your hand and dismiss the risks others have to bear is, again, precisely the same sort of myopic, greedy worldview i started agitating about. way to prove me wrong, champ.

oh yeah, and your comment about them "assessing risk" presumes that they have made accurate actuarial judgements. unless you're prepared to defend that premise by examining the methodology of such judgements, it might be prudent to drop that particular defense of your worldview. actuaries tend to be somewhat less inaccurate than economists, who in turn tend to be only slightly more accurate than astrologers.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Rigel:
That tone doesn't fit the conversations I want to have here. Could you please re-write it to make your points gently, as you would to someone you like and respect a great deal? We want to know what you have to say, without shit-slinging, and it would make me sad to delete your comments.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous ananda said...

Interpret their arguments to assume generous motives

Sorry, it's hard to get past the "people who disagree with me are insane in a way that means evil, without my having to say evil, because that would reveal that I'm exactly like the moral superiority crowd I claim to have nothing in common with" comment. But I was good! I didn't say anything! Oops. Oh crap.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Don't worry, Ananda. Rigel is going to write up a version that makes his content clear without demonizing his new friends here. Then the two of you will be able to admire each other's clear reasoning, find points of agreement, or disagree pleasantly. After a few of those exchanges, you'll become friends, and look back and laugh together at how things started so acrimoniously.

Or else.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous justus said...

I dunno. Losing everything once every 80 years doesn't sound all that bad. Sounds about normal for life: live 80 years and then lose everything to death.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous ananda said...

I take a little pride in being able to find common ground with people. I can always find something to agree about, no matter who the person may be. I suspect there are many things Rigel and I agree on. And I love your comments policy and think the internet would be a better virtual place were it more widely adopted, even though I sometimes have trouble complying with it, and have to occasionally give myself a time-out.

That said, if Rigel "truly believes" that libertarians are sociopaths, then he's got a dilemma, since, for him, complying with your comments policy entails posting in a very unnatural way: as if he liked and respected a sociopath. That may be beyond his creative powers. It certainly would be beyond mine.

8:39 PM  
Anonymous asg said...

Also, I strongly recommend a nice heavy-bag class at the local gym or martial arts studio for working out rage issues, rather than Megan's (or anyone else's) comments area.

8:41 PM  
Blogger jens said...

Not that I particularily enjoy being described as bordering on sociopath...or Megan liking that description...but most of us libertarian types aren't too fast to take offense. We'd be offended way too often!

8:46 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justus:
One in eighty chances every winter? I don't like those odds for my family and all my possessions and life, personally. Those are the old odds, based to the old hydrologic record, by the way. The new odds are worse.

Jens:
I meant more the part about how judges, lawyers and legislators should experience the justice system they sentence others to.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny thing is, as a second-best solution, this works a surprising amount of the time. We (by which I mean you) are not willing to let people live with the consequences of their actions, so either we (by which I mean we) bear the costs of those actions or we prevent them. Hence, legislators from flooded states demanding "retroactive insurance" coverage, while those from saner areas just try to prevent rebuilding.

The real beauty of this is that there is no reasonable threshold for when you stop protecting people from their choices, just what the electorate will currently stand for. Socialized health care seems quite likely, since we (you again) will not let people make free choices in health care. At that point, anything you do to harm yourself is now a public matter, since we (us again) are paying for it. Your smoking costs everyone else money, as does not wearing a belt, or engaging in dangerous sports. How hard do you think it will be for me to convince legislators that something called "ultimate frisbee" is a high-risk frivolity that is causing too many injuries to be allowed to continue? These people are already thinking about how to ban video games. Ban ultimate frisbee, for the children.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Zubon:
I drew a distinction in the other comment thread about respecting people's sovereignty, despite my intrusive maternal nature, which wants you to eat right and get enough sleep and not smoke and bring a sweater. So I have different willingness to respect people's personal choice than I have for property rights, especially when the collective health and safety is involved.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rigel, I don't think I'm alone in generally wanting to be left alone, and essentially allowed to do as I please, as long as I'm only risking myself and others who choose to join me.

Part of being free is being free to make bad decisions.

And, as far as having less burden of risk, maybe for some kinds of bad decisions. I can spend money a bit more carelessly, and recover easily. But, affluence will be of little help if I misjudge the speed of that oncoming truck. I'll be just as likely to drown if I choose to build my house in an area prone to flooding as anyone else.

And about assessing risk, who is good at assessing risk then? And, what makes you think that your tolerance to risk will be the same as everyone else's? 1/80 odds aren't bad if you think you can get a good deal, it really is an individual decision. You get worse odds than that with a condom. I think you give people far too little credit for being able to make their own informed decisions.

Oh, and I can think of other people who have worked hard to improve their own lives, or to give their kids the chance to do better. The one major reason I've seen for people not working hard to do better is contentment. Working harder is more of a burden than living as they currently are.

Justin

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Megan, you have many threads, so "the other" may need some specification. Again, is there any threshold when my personal choice crosses into my property rights? Can I go camping in a flood zone? Build a semi-permanent camp site? A vacation cottage? What if I want to spend 3 months a year there? 4? Is there some number of days or amount of building before it switches from "choice" (worthy of respect) to "property" (irrelevant)? Ditto on collective: is it okay for me to do this solo, and how many of us get to before it becomes a collective action problem?

You've already identified the solution on another thread: the property rights do not include the right not to be flooded. That is not a sustainable regime if you have a flood plain. You have seen how well enlightened statesmen have dealt with the question of where people can buy and build; I really do not expect better of them at any point in the foreseeable future. Reclaiming the "right" not to be flooded is correcting an error; banning all development on existing property is just confiscating several billion dollars worth of property.

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, what's wrong with Rigel's tone? Rigel is responding to a thread that starts out with the explicit statement that "if you build in a floodplain, you get flooded" means "I have a big cock."

And you're calling for what to happen to the existing residents? Do we evict 80,000 people and confiscate all their property or what?

4:57 AM  
Anonymous justus said...

One in eighty chances every winter? I don't like those odds for my family and all my possessions and life, personally. Those are the old odds, based to the old hydrologic record, by the way. The new odds are worse.

In America most natural disasters don't result in any appreciable loss of life. I mean, Hurricane Katrina only killed 1,800 people. Honestly, that's trivial; the flu kills 10 times that number every year.

When people say "I've lost everything" in Natural Disaster X what they really mean is "I've lost all of my material possessions."

Sure, that sucks. But I find it hard to get emotionally worked up by that because I don't think material possessions are very meaningful. If, somehow, increased incidence of flooding caused people to place less emphasis on their (easily destroyed) possessions and more on their easily saved friends and family I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep over that.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Pandax said...

I feel like I'm reading an extension of the article from Time magazine that talked about people worrying about the wrong things in America. It's all about how people compare the wrong types of risks to justify what they do.

The other thing that disturbs me about these new developments is the developers. I remember some news quote where the developers assured people that levee expenses would not fall to the state or federal government because maintenance costs would be private (i.e. community homeowners). But let's face it, at some point years from now the costs will outweigh what the communities can afford. The developers will say they have no liability or be bankrupt. The community will claim that the government has an obligation to protect them, and hence the government will have to step in an bail them out. No one cares about the risk because they know (like Justin also said) the government will step in. The developers know this already and that's why they have no hesistation in creating these new developments.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Spungen said...

Wow, I lived in and around Sac for three years and had no idea there were any flood issues. No one I know who still lives there has ever said anything about it, either.

2:10 PM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

I'll confess to some laziness here, I haven't read all of the comments, but I've been thinking about this, it is a thing that I think about.

For one thing, there are a lot of things we don't let parents do to their kids. You'll lose them if you are living on the streets for instance. They'll be put in foster care. But move them to a home with decent chance that they'll be flooded out or left to paddle through 20 feet of sewer sludge, lawn chemicals, drain-o and water to safety and you are excercising your right to freedom.

I hope that no one really believes that the government will step in and save them. Have we forgotten New Orleans that fast? We slept through that wakeup call.

Meanwhile, we've got a lot of other cash money at stake. The state underwrites all kinds of infrastructure and there'll be no tax base to support the repayment of the bonds that paid for the roads and schools if everyone gets flooded out.

PS, It'd be one thing if people with no health insurance were left to suffer at home, but then you try to leave your house and discover that the guy sitting next to you on the subway platform has got full blown TB and you might have health insurance, but now you've got TB, too. Sweet.

5:37 PM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

PS, Rigel & Zubon & Brian, the comments policy is sometimes stifling, but ultimately, I think it makes for a more interesting conversation. Ad hominem attacks are out, so you have to stick to the issue. You can make broad and sweeping statements but you can't call Justin a sociopath.

Brian's swipe at Rigel doesn't actually add much to the conversation, even if it does make for good sparring. So Rigel swipes back, and then we have a sparring match that is actually not that much fun for the rest of us.

I'm just hoping that Megan is also going to call Justin out for his persistent use of "blah, blah" which is dismissive and disdainful and not affirmatively kind.

I'm not saying I can always do it, this affirmative kindness thing, but I appreciate the lengths that Megan goes to to keep the pissing contestants at bay.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous kablamo said...

justin for president! =)

7:35 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm just hoping that Megan is also going to call Justin out for his persistent use of "blah, blah" which is dismissive and disdainful and not affirmatively kind.

I hadn't thought of Justin's use of "blah blah" as dismissive; I've always thought he did that to show that his thoughts are trailing off. Justin writes that in emails to me about non-confrontational stuff.

Still, Justin. Some of your fellow commenters are reading that in ways you don't intend. Would you be willing to drop that mannerism? (Or have I understood it wrong, or is it important to you?)

9:52 PM  
Anonymous rigel said...

for the record, i dont see "blah blah blah" as being dismissive per se. i do, however, see his attitude towards minorities and the dispossesed as dismissive. a better person than myself said that you judge a society by the way it treats those least able to take care of themselves. this, to me, includes the unlucky and the physically sick as well as those who repeatedly make "bad" choices and the victims of systemic prejudice, the ones who justin and brian appear to be comfortable letting twist in the wind in order to haughtily speak of self reliance and maintain their own insular sense of comfort.

i have been combative in previous comments, and if that has put anyone off, i apologize. i come into contact with libertarians, randroids, and their ilk far more often than i would like, and i am perhaps a little oversensitive to that sort of rhetoric, because i know it so well.

i have a lot more to say about this, but it will have to wait for another time, i think.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, whatever. It's a bad habit from a long time ago. It used to be the subject heading of every e-mail I wrote. It's still how I open and close a lot of conversations. But, not a big deal.

Oh, and Amanda, you don't need public health insurance for the goverment to control infectious disease. I could buy that a it's a legitimate government function to make sure everyone in the country is vaccinated and whatnot.

But, I don't buy that it's a legitimate government function to just pay everyone's random doctor's bills. I don't work to support anyone but me, and those close to me.

Anyway, off to bed.

Justin

12:44 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Once we've chosen a collective solution, we have no choice but to regulate people's behavior in that realm. To grab a particular instance, once we make highways and everyone is using them together, we have no choice but to regulate how people must behave when they are using those highways.

Once those levees were built, it put the whole shooting match into the realm of collective decision, which is going to have the predictable downsides, like people violently disagreeing about the collective decision to be made, and faulty decision-making processes. This is probably one of those areas where the benefits of doing so outweigh the downsides, but the downsides can't just be wished away.

I think many people habitually overestimate how well collective solutions work out. We've got an impulse to care about other people, but it doesn't scale well at all. It's hard enough to make collective decisions for four people and make that work out. Larger group decisions meet geometrically steeper problems, which it seems some people conveniently forget when it's time to select a way of handling a particular problem.

Which is why I often find myself less in favor of collective solutions when there are feasable alternatives.

5:27 AM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

I know that this thread wasn't ever meant to be about public health but ...

Public health is far more complex than vaccinations. The whatnot is that a lot of contagious diseases require ongoing care. They get worse (and more transmittable) when you aren't healthy overall. Ultimately, people need access to food, shelter, drug treatment. Those are all pieces of a single puzzle that we need to work on if we don't want to be wiped out by any one of a great many seriously contagious disease. We get all stressed out about bird flu, when we should be worried about old-school diseases like TB and Polio making a comeback.

The idea of the federal government taking over my health insurance premiums is silly. Same as I think "paying everyone's random healthcare bills" is silly. Not because I don't want to pay for anyone else's health care with my tax money, but because most of what I'm paying for health insurance these days is lining a lot of already well-lined pockets and I don't feel like subsidizing health care industry profiteering.

I think we need (and are smart enough to come up with) a much smarter system overall, that will provide for the basic health care of myself and my neighbors. Even the ones with the car alarms on their monster SUVs who are maybe going to make me insane if they continue to let those car alarms go off all night.

Justin, should we call off the sheriff's rescue operation if you ever get caught in an avalanche on Mount Hood? Because we know you wouldn't want public money spent on you and your bad decision to go climbing in winter?

Because that is what we are talking about here, just which poor choices you can get out from under.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justin, should we call off the sheriff's rescue operation if you ever get caught in an avalanche on Mount Hood? Because we know you wouldn't want public money spent on you and your bad decision to go climbing in winter?

See, you can't ask that to Justin, because he's going to say "yeah, that's exactly what I mean and I chose that risk, so leave me to freeze and come get my thawed and partially eaten body in the spring". Even if that is OK with him, it is not OK in general, because he is important to the rest of us. So we need him to take reasonable risks and then we need to help him if his luck turns so that I never need to sit weeping at my computer, looking at old videos of him climbing topless and pictures of Vasque ice boots.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Rigel:

Glad you're back. There are lots of libertarians here, but it turns out they are really nice, if you are nice to them first and only make fun of them sometimes. You'll like 'em.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang, Megan, too bad you think libertarians are freaks, for at the moment I am quite enjoying reading The Libertarian Manifesto by Murray Rothbard.

10:51 AM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I lived in an area such as Mount Hood that had high risk activity and dangerous roads, I would likely be willing to contribute to a private search & rescue type of organization. After all, as an area resident, were I to get stranded in my car, or, in a fit of lunacy, decide to go climbing just before a blizzard strikes, someone will come looking for me. Such a company would also probably assist in searching for "non-subscribers" ... I'm not comfortable forcing someone pay for this service who does not wish to. Hello all you other libertarians out there ... and a respectful and supportive greeting to the non-libertarians as well! :)

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh, no, I don't think I'd want to be left to die. The great thing about SAR is it tends to be a volunteer group.

And, the helicopter that found the Kims was privately paid for by the family.

And, even an ambulance ride is gonna cost you, they're not free, but your insurance tends to cover them.

I'd have no problem paying back the cost of rescue out of my own pocket if necessary.

But, when it comes down to it, I'd rather be allowed to take the risks and suffer the consequences, than have my activities taken away.

I really don't like the direction this kind of thinking leads, as Brian was saying, the more the costs of my decisions fall on everyone else, the more they'll want to regulate what I do.

It wasn't so long ago that Colorado tried to pass anti-obesity laws. NY banned trans fats. In England you can be taken against your will to a clinic or some such if you're too overweight. Belmont, in the bay area here, just banned smoking in ANY public place, including in your own car on the road. I find all of this ridiculous. Too many people want to control the lives of everyone around them.

My biggest problem with this we've gotta save people from themselves philosophy is it leaves no room for disagreement. You want to require everyone to pay for the programs you believe in to protect people from themselves. You never want a private charity, or a privately funded advertising campaign to educate people. It's always taxes, you want to require everyone to support your beliefs.

That's why libertarianism makes so much sense. It allows people to disagree, and just get on with their lives. There's no demand of support regardless of how you feel.

Oh, and climbing in the winter isn't a bad decision. The snow, and ice pack is what makes climbing a lot of mountains possible. It locks the loose rocks in place, and gives you a stable surface to climb on.

Justin

11:19 AM  
Anonymous ananda said...

a better person than myself said that you judge a society by the way it treats those least able to take care of themselves.

Why is that person (the person who said that) better than you?

Anyway, I don't have a problem with this at all. I endorse it. The only thing I reject is the implicit equation of "society" with "government". They're not the same thing. Removing the distinction grants legitimacy to a bunch of bad government policies that don't deserve it, and cheapens the voluntary acts of kindness people perform every day.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Milo said...

this, to me, includes the unlucky and the physically sick as well as those who repeatedly make "bad" choices and the victims of systemic prejudice.

Is there any evidence that the people living in Natomas are unlucky, physically sick, or are victims of systematic prejudice? It seems that they have made at least one bad decision, but none of us are in a position to say that they have repeatedly made bad decisions.

6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think part of the reason people make stupid decisions is that they expect the regulation to exist to prevent them from making stupid decisions. I've caught myself doing things that are particularly stupid merely because I presumed I couldn't really hurt myself because "they" wouldn't sell it if I could.

I think we should either for a society in which the libertarians win and people know that they are responsible for their own safety or where the paternalists win and people can be comfortable in the idea that as long as what they do is legal it is more or less safe.

10:20 AM  

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