Comments on: “Backyard swimming pools should be banned” Chronicling the high cost of our legal system Fri, 24 Oct 2014 02:20:08 +0000 hourly 1 By: Stewart Peterson Thu, 06 Feb 2014 05:50:19 +0000 kathy,

Indeed you are not talking about reinventing the wheel. I am talking about reinventing the wheel. You seem to think that a patchwork of millions of short-term fixes is perfectly OK. I don’t. You’ve apparently never tried to do anything in a system like that. I have. Got any good reasons that show that a culture of making people liable for rules they can’t possibly all read – scaring off people who aren’t well-funded and massively-organized – could improve the welfare of people?

So, of course, you apparently think I don’t care enough about the welfare of people, because I’m pointing out that your preferred approach to improving the welfare of people won’t do it, in the long term.

Should we all pursue “safety first?” Absolutely not! Have a new idea! Do something different! Chase your dreams, first! As in, don’t step on society’s best and brightest with a demand that they stop thinking up new ways to improve our lives, and start complying with some requirements that you thought up in order to feel extra, extra safe. Why would anybody do anything new or different if they knew it would bring an avalanche of bureaucracy down on them instead of the achievement of their goals?

The “safety first” crowd, in other words, has a life’s work of stopping other people from doing their life’s work. That’s reprehensible. It’s destroying the very concept of an American Dream. It says we can’t have an image of our lives as being different from what we have today – that, after all, might have unintended consequences and be “dangerous.” No, you all say, we must curl up in a ball, become defensive, and stop everything.

Organizations that try to do that – the French Army after World War I, for instance, or name any ossified big corporation – fail. People who do that, who are scared of the future and try to stop it instead of making it, fail. Societies that are politically dominated by these people and institutions, the Soviet Union being the biggest example in recent history, fail. Do you want to live in Brezhnev’s America? What good would that do for the welfare of people?

To preserve the right of people to find solutions that I wouldn’t think of, and my right to find solutions that they wouldn’t think of, I defend wholeheartedly the right of people to live in their own “house that could fall over” if they want to. It’s their right to do so. I have no business making “standards,” no matter how good my standards are, for their personal, private (read: not affecting me) behavior.

Oh, and if someone I loved died making a mistake, while doing something they wanted to do, would I constrain everybody’s behavior, preventing people from doing what my loved one had wanted to do, and would still do if they were alive to do it? Would I make them prove to some central planner that they “needed” to do it, or that it was an “appropriate risk?”

Hell no.

The more I care about someone, the more I would try to not create obstacles to their success. That means taking a broad view of the problems they face (known as a “systems approach”), rather than focusing on one problem, spending all my limited resources solving it, and having nothing available to deal with everything else.

Will that person eventually die, of something? Yes. Could I have done something to prevent that? Probably, sure – and if I had, something else would have happened. As long as I dealt with the parts of their problems that I could control, in descending order of size (size being a combination of consequences, likelihood of occurrence, and the time I have to solve it), and respected their right as a human being to make their own life choices, I can know that I maximized their chances to do what they loved.

Death is batting a thousand. My task is to make other people’s lives worth living – not miserable and short in the name of predictability.

And it is tremendously ironic that supposedly liberal people don’t seem to value that any more.

By: Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk Thu, 06 Feb 2014 02:22:37 +0000 Bill Poser:

I want to preface my comments by noting that I respect your posts on this site. I do not always agree with you, of course. But I think you are an insighful commenter by and large. Here, however, I vehemently disagree with you.

In design defect cases, juries are asked to weigh risk versus utility (among other things). But I see no reason why sound public policy invariably needs to involve such painstaking assessments. Longstanding practices and a modicum of common sense have to count for something sometimes. I should not be put to the burden of mustering scientifically reliable epidemiological studies in support of the utility of swimming pools in order to be able to legally build or own one. State legislatures should not be frittering away finite public resources demanding or examining such studies in order craft a fully informed swimming pool policy. Such efforts themselves entail real costs and burdens and they should be reserved for manifestly more important matters.

Children interested in swimming are going to find a venue for doing so. If not private pools, then elsewhere. Many of those “elsewheres” are bound to be rather less safe than the home. The creeks I played in and around as an adolescent in the middle of north-central Wisconsin’s woodlands were sans lifeguard and had not been assessed for safety by anyone in any fashion. Shall we have the state’s Department of Natural Resources promulgate creek safety regulations to remedy the situation? Or shall we just commission studies to inform ourselves?

TL; DR Version: I don’t need any studies to know that a private pool ban is not sensible public policy.

P.S. Frankly, even if the health risks of private pools could be shown to outweigh their health benefits in a scientifically reliable fashion, the utility of private pools still would exceed their risk for me personally, because their utility includes such intangibles as unfettered access, convenience, privacy, and freedom. And I am not willing to sacrifice those benefits in the name of childproofing the world.

By: Bill Poser Thu, 06 Feb 2014 00:21:27 +0000 There’s a factor missing from this discussion. The dangers of backyard pools have to be balanced against the dangers of not having them. It seems likely that backyard pools contribute to public health in two ways: (a) by increasing the cardiovascular fitness of the people who use them, who might exercise less if they did not have access to backyard pools; (b) by teaching children to swim and keeping up the swimming ability of adults. Here again, one can learn to swim elsewhere, but it is likely that the availability of backyard pools brings about swimming instruction and practice that would otherwise not occur. We can’t formulate an intelligent policy without knowing the marginal increase in deaths from heart attacks and drownings due that would be incurred by banning backyard pools.

By: wfjag Wed, 05 Feb 2014 16:37:50 +0000 “I’d start by banning all beaches at the Gulf of Mexico, just seems like a good place to start.”

@ DEM — So, BP was just engaged in protecting the children?

By: rxc Wed, 05 Feb 2014 15:20:41 +0000 One last comment. Why aren’t the people who call for banning outdoor pools also calling for banning all sports? After all, people (including especially children) are hurt and killed playing all sorts of games, riding bicycles, running, swimming in the ocean and lakes, sailing (my hobby), racing cars, etc.

And then there are ladders, which are the absolute enabler of dangerous conditions (including for children). They need to be completely banned, and replaced with enclosed bucket lifters, operated only by professionals who have been appropriately trained, tethered-in, and certified by a government agency for high-level work(anything more than 6 inches off the ground).

By: rxc Wed, 05 Feb 2014 15:16:07 +0000 I am actually starting the process for having a pool installed in my back yard, and the last thing the vendor mentioned to me was the pool safety features – i.e., the fence or the alarms. I have started to do some safety research on pools in Florida (where I now live), and it appears that we need to have alarms on all of the doors(3 of them) from our house into the screened pool area, or we have to install a 4-ft fence inside the screened porch/pool deck, or we have to install auto closers on all the doors.

And one pool constructor/vendor’s web site has safety recommendations for pool drain vacuum release systems, non-entrapment sump covers, safety covers on top of the pool, alarms (on doors, on the windows, in the pools and in any spas, and on children), ropes and float lines, rescue equipment, posting of warnings and safety instructions, posting of CPR and drowning instructions, and an outside telephone to call for help. I think they believe that all of this would be useful to provide “layers of protection for the children”. I also think there may be a requirement that I replace the glass in the doors because they are too close to the pool deck.

It is making me reconsider my decision to build the pool, which is exactly what some people would like to hear. And since I am approaching 65, which is the magic age for becoming a “frail, elderly person”, it might be best if I forego this purchase, and just hire a bunch of experts to supervise me and tell me how to enjoy the rest of my life “more safely”.

By: Mannie Wed, 05 Feb 2014 14:00:50 +0000 Kathy, you are essentially calling for the banning of private pools, by making them too expensive for normal people to operate.

Do you drive to your public pool? That is a completely unnecessary drive. You should only be allowed to travel to work by private transport. How many children are killed by automobiles being used for unnecessary trips, annually? Perhaps private automobile use should be banned. A professional taxi driver, driving no more than 10 MPH is all you need to get around.

After all, if it can save only one child . . .

By: kathy Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:52:59 +0000 Dear no name guy, I am not saying they need a life guard, just mentioned it. There is a concept called the buddy system. And even when there is supervision of a parent or lifeguard drownings happen. We are advocating a multifaceted approach to water safety. Your comment about employment of life guards is funny. I have actually swam in public pool where life guard could not swim but was tall so he could pull anyone out. Crazy to have a life guard who can not swim. Thank you

By: kathy Wed, 05 Feb 2014 10:16:34 +0000 Hi stewart. I am not talking about reinventing the wheel. In some places people are refurbishing their pools with out regard to safety. Turning safe pools into hazardous pools. Pools are expensive to put in no need to build a dangerous pool then say too bad… i feel that if the pool is built to public standards and has necessary life saving equipment near by well enough is done. I don’t believe that in order to have a safe pool you need a safety officer. If the pool is built correctly and safely that will lessen the risk. I swim everyday and swim only in safe pools. We should all be advocating for safety first. I mean do you want to live in a house that can fall down? Observe safety standards. I am great in math too but all the stats won’t save a life especially if you use that wrong stat. If that .00000001% was someone you loved then stats would be meaningless. It’s still a person. Use the stats to save lives.
Thank you

By: Ban backyard swimming pools | Freedomwatch Wed, 05 Feb 2014 06:31:07 +0000 […] this “solution” appears to be the proverbial sledgehammer to crack a nut. The reader comments to the article […]