- Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who crusades against distracted driving, worsens the problem by honking at motorists he sees using phones [WTOP via Mike Riggs, Reason] Expensive new mandate for back-up cameras in cars may be delayed until after election [Ira Stoll and more, Ann Althouse]
- With reporter Lee Stranahan, the late Andrew Breitbart shone an investigative spotlight on the USDA’s billion-dollar settlement with lawyers representing black farmers, and there was indeed much to investigate [Big Government]
- Substance on floor may have been own baby oil: “Oiled Stripper Loses Slip and Fall Lawsuit” [Erik Magraken; B.C., Canada; related on-the-job pole-dance injuries here and here]
- Honeywell’s new thermostat design deserves high marks, its patent litigation maybe not so much [Farhad Manjoo, Slate]
- Socialism takes too many evenings: @ChadwickMatlin live-tweets Park Slope Food Co-op meeting [The Awl]
- Auto bailout a success? Really? [Mickey Kaus, Todd Zywicki, Ted Frank, Prof. Bainbridge]
- Way to go Maryland: proud of my state for enacting law recognizing same-sex marriage, signed by Gov. O’Malley yesterday [WaPo]
More: Jalopnik, Coyote, Marc Hodak, Rick Woldenberg/AmendTheCPSIA, Dan Fisher/Forbes, Dan Bigman/Forbes (LaHood: “no defect, but we’ll regulate the industry anyway”); Carter Wood/ShopFloor and more, Ted Frank/PoL (class action over loss of resale value continues), New York Times, Leonard Evans/AOL. My March 2010 National Review piece “Exorcising Toyota’s Demons” is here. And welcome readers from Instapundit, Charlie Martin/PJ Tatler, Pejman Yousefzadeh, Roger Donway/Atlas Society, Ira Stoll/Future of Capitalism.
[cross-posted from Cato at Liberty]
New York state senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) is crusading to ban pedestrians’ use of cellphones and other mobile devices while crossing the street. It’s for your own good, you must understand:
“When people are doing things that are detrimental to their own well being, then government should step in.”
The Daily Caller asked me to write an opinion piece about this proposal so I just did. Excerpt:
Phone use on the street has become near-ubiquitous in recent years, yet over nearly all that time — nationally as in Gotham — pedestrian death rates were falling steadily, just as highway fatalities fell steadily over the years in which “distracted driving” became a big concern.
In the first half of 2010, the national statistics showed a tiny upward blip (0.4 percent), occasioned by a relative handful of fatalities in a few states. Even a spokesman for the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, Jonathan Adkins, seems to agree it’s premature to jump to conclusions: “You don’t want to overreact to six months of data,” he told columnist Steve Chapman.
Like others who seek quasi-parental control over adults, Sen. Kruger tends to infantilize his charges. He told the Times: “We’re taught from knee-high to look in both directions, wait, listen and then cross. You can perform none of those functions if you are engaged in some kind of wired activity.”
This drew proper scorn from columnist Chapman: “Actually, you can perform all those functions and dance an Irish jig, even with text messages or rock music bombarding you.” That some ear bud devotees don’t take due caution is no reason to pretend they can’t.
C.S. Lewis, Lily Tomlin and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood all get walk-on parts as well.
Sacrificing not only passenger convenience, but also important elements of emergency response and crime prevention, to the Government That Knows Best: “Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said using a cell phone while driving is so dangerous that devices may soon be installed in cars to forcibly stop drivers — and potentially anyone else in the vehicle — from using them.” [Daily Caller, earlier] Post-furor update: DOT “currently has no plans” to do this.