Friday, August 11, 2006


Trains, planes and automobiles

This is a very good point. Plus, like Marc Mulholland, I really have no desire at all not to be allowed to read on planes.

I mean, and a propos of my last post, we could eliminate deaths on the road at the stroke of a parliamentary pen if we just banned cars, but nobody seems to favour that, even though people here in Ireland have been getting angrier and angrier at the failure of the authorities that be to reduce death on the roads.

Yet, aware of the huge inconvenience that banning cars would cause to millions of people (including, of course, the enormous economic damage it would do), people seem perfectly happy to accept some hundreds of people dying on the roads each year, as much as they would like it to be, say, 200 instead of 400 per year.

So in practice people are willing to be sensible and weigh up the slightly reduced risk of dying that would be the upside of a particular measure against the inconvenience that would be its downside, and decide accordingly.

But it's still not really the done thing to point out that we can't - and shouldn't - actually do everything we can to minimise such risks.

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