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Laws Lead to Tyranny, Not to Nirvana

In a recently-published video, a popular YouTuber strikes the ironic claim that there ought to be additional laws to protect his interests while he is admittedly speeding. He understandably denounces the use of retreads after his caravan of exotic cars is impacted by one as they roar down the highway. 

For those readers who are unfamiliar with tire retreads, also known as recaps or remolds, they are a relatively-inexpensive re-manufacturing process for replacing treads on worn tires. They are commonly used on transport vehicles around the world for their enormous cost savings, a function of considerable material savings and even significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the total of which incidentally results in the minimization of environmental impact and the physical waste that ends up in landfills. 

Notwithstanding this thread of logic, some impassioned drivers follow their emotions to the untested and wholly-unexamined conclusion that the world would be vastly improved by an outright ban on retreads. They concomitantly contend that those drivers ought to be responsible for the damages to vehicles struck by rogue retreads. 

Of course, if one could trace the retread back to an owner, he might indeed have a legitimate case for arbitration. There would be little argument leftover insofar as the latter claim is concerned, all other things being equal.

However, the promotion of law to actively monitor or mitigate the incidence of road debris, on the other hand, amounts to only further profligacy and overreach of government, where it has demonstrated a failed record time and again. 

A more reliable resolution to this problem would take the form of privatization, whereby road operators would inherently operate in their self-interest to maintain clean environments, safe driving conditions and consensual indemnity measures. 

Moreover, on the basic operator front, safe driving distances typically afford ample reaction time to avoid these kinds of events, and the type of "monitoring" that would be required by the law would necessitate measures, costs and infringements that most people would strongly denounce: checkpoints, "random" pull-overs and the like. 

Of course, the drivers in the aforementioned YouTube video were admittedly speeding and evincibly following too closely. 

According to the United States National Safety Council and general rule-of-thumb, vehicle operators are advised to adhere to the three-second rule for safe trailing distances under ideal driving conditions, adding one second per factor of driving difficulty.

In the YouTube video, the vehicles comprising the caravan are traveling at excess rates of speed while trailing by increments of less than one second. 

In this particular case, then, the drivers are demonstrated to have increased their own risk exposure independent of conditions and the road debris, a form of exposure they could have mitigated by complying with best driving practices and traffic law.  

Ultimately, the world is a wildly imperfect place, and the initiatives which often purport to perfect it frequently operate under the guise of something friendlier than control, and they tend to obfuscate the inherent risks of life on earth and the role of personal responsibility in navigating this planet. 

While we would surely be remiss to blatantly ignore the causes of elevated risk, as they are often relatable, we would be negligent to ignore the total costs of their so-called remedies. 

As it turns out, the road to serfdom is paved by the warm intentions of do-gooders who fail to acknowledge the limits of their imaginations, whose fanciful notions of utopia distract them from the perils of coercion. 

While it's downright infuriating to incur damage to our vehicles while driving across highways and interstates, we must appreciate the inherent risks of these actions. 

The costs of driving are not limited to the costs of purchase, fuel, insurance, registration, maintenance, repairs and related taxes; they include the risks of driving across roads with fellow drivers under always-unique conditions with the full accompaniment of unforeseeable events and debris, and some of these risks serve to drive up those aforementioned costs. 

We must consider these real possibilities while driving, lest we risk elevated risk exposure for our high-priced sports and luxury vehicles whose bumpers and trim pieces are priced not according to intrinsic (or utility) value, but rather according to cosmetic or collectible value. 

In the philosophical sense, then, the basic violation of front-end vehicle damage magically climbs from a $100 valuation (for the Honda Civic driver) to $3,000 (for the Ferrari owner) for a cosmetic loss that cannot be reliably priced for objective purposes. 

At some marginal level, drivers must acknowledge and respect the inherent risks of operating their high-priced vehicles in the public space, lest we risk shackling the average traveler to subjectively higher-priced risk in the presence of inordinately expensive traffic that suddenly enhances the costs of driver error.

This ultimately becomes a question of marginal responsibility: is the marginal responsibility placed on the lap of the luxury car driver or on that of the average traveler? Are we interested in penalization based on the type of violation or on the measure of damages?

This corner of the conversation becomes increasingly complex and philosophical, indeed, especially when evaluated at the macro level and independent of consent.

However, the core of this conversation indisputably unveils the undeniable efficacy of retreads and the failure of emotional mob rule, the latter of which is best checked by responsible and vested individuals through the market, not through the exercise of pen or vocal chords via political process. 

While most of the complaints about retreads are honest and sincere at their origins, they commonly come from people who have never operated heavy vehicles or the companies that use them; what's more, they are unlikely to ever operate them or the companies that use them.

On balance, these kinds of cost-saving measures combine with others to enable increasingly lower prices for the end consumer, or to increase savings for further ventures, and they limit the exhaustive labor and resources required through the marketplace to sustain fleets and to operate the distribution and supply chain. 

However, the average person operates for most of his or her life from the perspective of an employee and a consumer, failing to ever appreciate the sides of the producer and the employer. 

It is for this very reason that it is so easy to pass measures targeting these groups to effectively transfer culpability to producers and employers whom the layman envies due to reasons imagined yet never tested.

It would prove far more honest, and far less confusing, if the average person were to begin evaluating the world as it is, not as it can be imagined or as it ought to be.

As Nobel laureate Friedrich von Hayek wrote in his 1988 treatise The Fatal Conceit, "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."

Unfortunately, the average imagination operates from the faintest idea about economics, so we are left facing a winless battle against indefensible notions corroborated by consensus unmitigated by reason.

What's more, they have the most powerful tool at their disposal to carry out this mission: the undivided attention of the impressionable and unwitting masses who eventually do their bidding for them.


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