Sunday, May 15, 2005

Saving Lives

Seat Belts Save Lives. Oh, goody.

See? They've got us again.

Living things are programmed to live. To replicate. To do whatever they can to go on living. That's given. Reason is irrelevant.

Social man has stacks of traditions where he who saves a life is respected for it. We have myths where he who saves beaucoup lives is worshipped: Jesus, to whit. Social man also hedges his bets: the Chinese hold that if you save someone's life you're thereafter responsible for them; Twain wrote a series of stories in which the savior rues the day.

Overall though, the savior is respected. Jesus is told to have told of the Good Samaritan. The story needs some translation, a few notes: it was like the union striker saved the scab.

So if a government goes around saving lives, that government must be good: No?

Whoever first thought of rigging some sort of restraining straps around the driver of a racing car was certainly trying to reduce the risk of injury to the driver. It was probably the driver himself, trying to save his own life – or the driver's mechanic (dependent, partner, employee), maybe the driver's sponsor ... I remember hearing I think it was Sterling Moss talk about feeling at one with the car. Hey: I'm a mystic too. I couldn't wait to drive a tuned car with all systems tight, strapped in. Just weld me to the frame. How many logics are bridged, how many of the bridges burned, when the government tells you to Buckle Up – or else?

I rode my first motorcycle around 1965, bought one soon after, made sure I bought a good helmet with it. But in 1965 it was up to me when I wore it, if I wore it. There were times where in my judgment I was safer without it. You hear less, see a great deal less, with one on. Within a year the state was telling me I must wear one; or not ride: wear one under all circumstances. (I loved Cycle Magazine's report of the guy who thereafter wore his helmet on his knee. The cop who stopped him didn't get it, made him switch.) (Later he fell and hurt his knee!)

R.J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii calculates that in the twentieth century alone, states murdered about 162,000,000 of their own subjects. This figure doesn’t include the tens of millions of foreigners they killed in war. In Vietnam the United States saved untold people by dropping napalm on them.

What's going on? To me the answer is clear. I want to emphasize two aspects of my answer.
  1. Predators' Stalking Blind
    When bigots want to kill niggers they dress as Christians, burn crosses. Their true purpose is disguised: to their prey, to themselves.
  2. Scared Shitless
    James Burke explained, traced patterns, like doctors' non-accountable authority, to the Napoleonic Wars.
    Napoleon took a census, counted so many million Frenchmen. The emperor of Austria, the kings of England, of Italy, had taken no census. They had no idea how many subjects they had. The question had never come up. Therefore, Napoleon's count, whatever the number, scared them all shitless. It was a number threatening a non-count. Thereafter, all states have tried to have as many citizens as they could manage: to scare the shit out of their competitors.
    No account need be taken of the population's health, viability ... just its sum.
    (Which doesn't mean that the same government won't kill the Cheyenne or the headhunters or the Jews or the anarchists by the carload if it's running a different program for the moment.)

PS bk responds with a few arguments that seat belts cost more lives than they save. Maybe he'll add those comments himself. If not, I'll do something parallel eventually. Meantime, know: just 'cause you hear it a million times don't mean it's so.

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