Safety in exchange for lives


My server computer is slightly mis−configured and so 50% of the time it does not automatically connect to the net. To check the connection I often go to and if it appears then I know the connection is working. Because of that I get pointers to a few items I wouldn't normally see.

Here's one that caught my eye. It's about the NPR Car Talk brothers and how they are campaigning to ban cell phone use while driving a car and how it's not so cut and dry. Read the article if you're curious and be sure to read to the end.

It reminds me of an ABC News program I saw about safety. The program showed all kinds of situations where in trying to make things safer they often actually make them less safe. Maybe the cellphone issue is not a good example of that but the a couple they brought up at the end of the ABC News program when like this:

I'm making these numbers up but the actual numbers shared similar differences. The odds of dying in a plane crash are like 1 in 10000. The odds of dying in a car crash are like 1 in 1000. The more *safe* we make planes the more expensive they get to fly hence the price for a ticket goes up, hence more people elect to take the car (say from D.C. to New York or L.A. to S.F.) hence more people die than would have if we had not spent so much money trying to make the plane 100% safe.

The final example on that ABC News program was the odds of dying early because you are living under the poverty level. On the scale above, they were like 1 in 100. In other words, the most dangerous thing you can do is be poor. No idea how they came up with that stat but it does raise the point that the harder it is to get out of poverty the more people are going to die. In other words, spending zillions to make things safe may in fact kill more people than it saves. Obviously that's not always the case but they is why we have things like cost−benefit analysis.

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