Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Schools and childhood roundup

  • In the mail: “No Child Left Alone: Getting the Government Out of Parenting,” forthcoming book by Abby Wisse Schachter [more: Pittsburgh Tribune Eric Heyl interview]
  • Neighbor reports Winnipeg mom to child services for letting kids play in fenced-in back yard [Canadian Press/National Post via Amy Alkon]
  • “Public space in Germany is not held hostage by liability lawsuits; Berlin playgrounds are not designed by lawyers.” And they’re awesome [Anna Winger, New York Times]
  • Controversy intensifies further on Scotland’s Named Person scheme [Scottish Mail on Sunday (“complete stranger” will be assigned as Named Person to each child over school holidays), Gerald Warner/CapX, earlier here and here]
  • Omar Mateen’s road to becoming a security guard: “He had issues. All the records were discarded by the school system, per statute. Clearly, if his employer had access to his juvenile record, he would be the last person to own a weapon.” [Yahoo]
  • Kansas Supreme Court orders state legislature to increase funding for poor districts [ABA Journal, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • Left-right cooperation on school reform begins to break down amid demands to toe social justice line [Robert Pondiscio]

“CDC Tells Fertile Women: Don’t Drink At All”

“Women of childbearing age should avoid alcohol unless they’re using contraception, federal health officials said Tuesday, in a move to reduce the number of babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome.” [Liz Szabo/USA Today (“CDC: Young women should avoid alcohol unless using birth control”), Tracy Clark-Flory/Vocativ (with headline above)]

Rebecca Kukla, professor at the Kennedy School of Ethics, had the following comment, quoted in the Vocativ piece:

We don’t tell pregnant women not to drive cars, even though we are much more certain that there’s a nonzero risk to their fetuses from each car ride than from each drink. The ideal of zero risk is both impossible to meet and completely paralyzing to try to meet. The idea that the pleasures and routines that make up women’s days are mere luxuries that are not worth any risk whatsoever is patronizing and sexist, and it would also turn their lives into complete hell if really taken to its conclusion. It also imposes a much higher risk reduction bar on pregnant women than on parents of small children, for no apparent reason.

We have had numerous occasions over the years to remark on the direction in which Obama appointee Thomas Frieden has taken the Centers for Disease Control.

More: Alexandra Petri, Washington Post (CDC’s warning “incredibly condescending”).

Toronto cab scam and the risks of regulation

Canada’s National Post reports that what police consider to be probably a “network of a few people” at more than one cab company have been victimizing unwary riders by sliding their bank cards through an unauthorized point-of-sale machine and handing a replica card back to them. The card is then used to drain the victim’s bank account. TD Bank alone says it is handling 65 claims following this pattern. The online payment mechanism used in ridesharing services appears to be more secure against scams of this sort, but the operations manager for one of the taxi companies is touchy on that point: “To suggest that this has anything to do with taxis vs. Uber is ludicrous,” she tells the NP.

Which raises the question: if Uber and Lyft were the older technology, would cities following the Precautionary Principle legalize taxis for hail? Of course, to those of us who elevate principles of liberty over the regulatory precautionary principle, the answer is clear: legalize both kinds of service, and let consumers decide for themselves which risks they are willing to run. But wouldn’t it be absurd to ban the safer service and thus force people to use the riskier?

January 6 roundup

  • “In fact, none of the mass shootings that have grabbed headlines in the last few years would have been prevented by the gun controls proposed in response to them, and Obama’s new list of warmed-over ideas does not break any new ground in that respect.” [Jacob Sullum] More: Dave Kopel; Ken White at Popehat on the President’s rhetoric of rights; Jonathan Adler notes that ATF’s new guidance on who’s a gun dealer either restates existing law (yawn) or violates the Administrative Procedure Act (whee!); Eugene Kontorovich wonders whether that guidance is vague on purpose; and Josh Blackman writes that while most of the President’s orders don’t go much beyond “hortatory fluff” (no more letting attorneys set up gun trusts for MS-13 gang members!) they help lay the groundwork for more intrusive measures to come;
  • “Judge tosses consumer suit claiming SeaWorld falsely asserts its whales are well-treated” [ABA Journal]
  • In a single press release on Missouri mosque vandalism case, the U.S. Department of Justice misleads readers in two important ways [Eugene Volokh on legal significance of burned Koran, omission of ideological content in sprayed graffiti slogans]
  • New Greg Ip book “Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe” [Tyler Cowen and more, Arnold Kling]
  • Plaintiff’s lawyers “salivating at the prospects for big paydays” from self-driving car accidents [Bloomberg]
  • Do “arms trafficking” rules extend even to domestic sharing of data files containing information on three-dimensional printing of guns? [Ilya Shapiro and Randal John Meyer, Cato]
  • So the Graubard Miller/Alice Lawrence mega-fee saga, often covered in this space, turns out to have a Sheldon Silver connection [Wayne Barrett]

Schools roundup

Agreeing with EEOC, jury awards demoted boozing truck driver $119,000

In 2009, a driver with Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., admitted to the company that he had an alcohol problem. The company told him that it would no longer allow him to drive heavy trucks for the firm. (It said it offered him a less safety-sensitive, but also significantly lower-paying, dock job.) The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stepped in and sued on his behalf under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It conceded that Old Dominion could (and indeed had to) take the keys away from a heavy truck driver it found to be currently drinking on the job, but contended it had failed in its obligation to “make an individualized determination as to whether the driver could return to driving and provide a reasonable accommodation of leave to its drivers for them to obtain treatment.” Of course backsliding and remission are common following rehab treatment, which means as a group drivers with known past alcohol problems will have a higher risk profile than drivers without. That is why at an earlier stage of the case I asked, “Are we really required to take chances with 18-wheelers on the highway?”

Now we know the answer: Yes. A jury agreed with the EEOC and awarded the driver $119,000 in back pay.

P.S. On the other hand, upholding the decision of a federal district court in Georgia, the Eleventh Circuit has ruled that Crete Carrier Corp. did not violate the ADA when it declined to employ a truck driver with a “current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism,” a bar to driving under DOT regulations.

“Liability Concerns Prompt Some Cities to Limit Sledding”

Sad on multiple levels [AP]:

[Omaha assistant city attorney Tom] Mumgaard said courts in Nebraska have decided cities must protect people, even if they make poor choices.

Most people realize that cities must restrict potentially dangerous activities to protect people and guard against costly lawsuits, said Kenneth Bond, a New York lawyer who represents local governments. In the past, people might have embraced a Wild West philosophy of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, but now they expect government to prevent dangers whenever possible.

I’d say there’s more than one kind of downhill toboggan momentum we might want to worry about. Commentary: Lenore Skenazy (“If we believe that ‘whenever possible’ = ‘imagining all possible dangers, no matter how remote, and actively preventing them all, all the time, even by drastic decrees,’ then we get a society that puts 100% safety above any other cause, including fairness, convenience, exercise, rationality — and delight”); Ira Stoll (“This is the sort of story that you’d think might build some political support for tort reform.”).

Holiday lights get much safer; CPSC pushes ahead with regs anyway

According to an account in The Hill last month, “the number of deaths caused by Christmas lights has declined to about one person each year from a high of 13 people each year in the early 1990s.” That might seem like an encouraging record, leaving what might seem a low residual risk considering the millions of households that decorate with seasonal lights, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is moving ahead with expensive regulations anyway [Hannah Yang, Heartland]. I’m quoted:

The CPSC’s filing notes that less than one percent of holiday lights affected by the rule have been determined to contain defects, as “voluntary conformance” with industry standards is nearly universal.

Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, criticized the new rules against cheery Christmas lights, explaining “the CPSC—like other agencies—has an interest in justifying its own existence.”…

“They’ve become somewhat truculent from all the criticism,” he said, adding that CPSC actions and regulations often seem to be intended to send a message of “‘see how much you laugh when we send our lawyers after you.’ …As we know from other CPSC regulations, it can be quite expensive to comply with a CPSC rule, even if your product is not in violation.”

Earlier on holiday lights here and here.