The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Unintended consequences? Or the greatest good for the smallest number?

At some point, some wise guy decided that, in order to accommodate the few people who are wheelchair-bound, every transit bus needs to be equipped with wheelchair lifts — complex mechanical contraptions that frequently break down. This morning I had an experience that bore this out. I got on a bus, and a few stops down the route there was an intending passenger in a wheelchair; the lift broke down as the driver was lowering the lift to take her on. So the bus was stuck, with its wheelchair lift mechanism stuck in a middle-of-the-track position, and about thirty passengers had to wait half an hour until the next bus came along.

Why could the powers-that-be not have decided that wheelchair passengers could be accommodated by alternative transportation — such as specially equipped vans — and allowed the buses to be left alone? It seems that, for the benefits of a very small number of wheelchair-bound passengers, requiring such breakdown-prone equipment is really perverse. Is it a case of "unintended consequences"? (The people mandating the wheelchair accessibility not realizing that it's just one more device that can break down?) Or is it "the greatest good for the smallest number"? (The people mandating the wheelchair accessibility simply deciding they don't care about the majority of the bus-riding public — we can all go to hell, so a few wheelchair-bound people don't feel discriminated against? And is it really discrimination, if they can't use a regular bus and need to call for a special vehicle to take them somewhere? After all, they'd probably have the whole van to themselves!)

I find myself daily, every time I get on a bus, hoping there will not be anyone in a wheelchair wanting to get on it, or if there is already one on the bus, that he will not want to get off before I do. And if I'm waiting for a bus and there is someone in a wheelchair waiting at the same stop, just praying that he doesn't want the same bus I do.


Anonymous said...


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Opinionator said...

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