Monday, May 18, 2009

Escalating Crime

I'm not going to get into the rights and wrongs of this... in that I mean I am not going to chastise the cop for doing his duty by enforcing what is apparently a law in Laval. My question is this... How the hell did something as stupid as this get to be a law?

When did it become the purview of government (at whatever level) to protect us from something as pedestrian (pardon the pun) as falling down?

I think I see the rationale behind this and it is a direct result of government involvement in what aught to be a private concern - the provision of public transportation.

Picture this. A man is on an escalator and not holding onto the handrail. the escalator breaks down and stops suddenly. The man, not holding on falls down and is injured.

Being that the escalator's unexpected stop is the reason for his fall and the owner of the elevator is the city the man sues the city for causing his injuries.

The city looses the case for whatever reason, perhaps the escalator was not properly maintained. Having lost the case the city is forced to pay compensation for injuries (and in today's day and age probably pays for the man's "mental anguish" and "post traumatic stress injury" as well) and looks to ensure that this sort of incident will never happen again.

Now because the city has the legislated power of government in it's jurisdiction it solves the problem by making not holding onto the handrail of a public escalator a crime.

Enter our young woman and the cop... the result is almost predictable.

How would that scenario have played out in a laissez faire capitalist nation in which the government does not control business and has no responsibility aside from providing funding for the police, military and courts?

First of all the subway would have been privately owned... step #1 in ensuring freedom. So the owner of the subway may have been sued (as in the first instance) and the result may have been the same. This would lead to the business owner making his own policy.

That policy would probably consist of a sign telling patrons to hold the handrail and absolving the owner of any responsibility for injuries occurring as a result of a person not complying with the policy. So when the young woman reached for something in her purse she was not covered against injury should she fall.

She would not have been fined, she would not have been arrested. The resources of the state would not be wasted prosecuting a nonsensical bureaucratic edict and the police officer could have been out patrolling the streets, stopping or investigating real crimes.

Rand was correct (as she so often is) when she wrote...

"The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

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