Friday, August 23, 2019

Great Expectations, Part B

When you tell people to expect great things, they may be disappointed with what are actually adequate outcomes.

NOTE:  In response to my last posting, as expected, I did get e-mails from some viewers who claim that speeding tickets are indeed a revenue generator and the whole system is set up to make money from motorists.   If so, it is a horribly inefficient system - given how much it costs per hour to run a patrol car with at least one officer in it - I doubt it breaks even.   Moreover, in a way, it is a stupidity tax, like the lotteries.  If you don't want to pay, then don't play.

I haven't had a speeding ticket in over 20 years - since I stopped speeding.   Funny how that works, eh?   If your really want to boycott the system and starve them for revenues, then just slow down.   As an added bonus (the real bonus) your insurance will drop down to trivial amounts.   I get ads from insurance companies saying they can save me $480 a year on car insurance.   That would be a neat trick, as that would mean they were paying me to insure my car.   Just stop speeding and driving like a jackass.   Speeding doesn't save any time, and it wastes a lot of money, and annoys the crap out of the rest of us.  Oh, and its dangerous.

That might not have anything to do with today's posting.   But then again, maybe it does....

* * * 

People treat pedestrians differently in Canada than they do in the United States.  In some parts of America, particularly in the South, it's basically open season on pedestrians.  In Atlanta, you take your life in your hands if you even cross the street.  Margaret Mitchell, who wrote Gone With the Wind, was arguably of Atlanta's most famous citizens.  They still ran her down and killed her.

In other parts of the country, and in Canada, pedestrians are given great deference. Pedestrian crosswalks are clearly demarcated, and motorists are expected to stop when a pedestrian is even about to enter the crosswalk.

This is a little disconcerting for someone who is used to how pedestrians are treated in places like New York City.  There, it's every man for himself and you have to fight your way across the street.   You're not used to people stopping or being nice.

But somehow, I think this great deference to pedestrians could produce unexpected and disastrous results.  We were driving through a campground to our campsite and the place was filled with children on bicycles. We are driving very slowly to avoid hitting the small children.  One of them, who appeared to be as young as Cindy-Lou Who, zig-zagged in front of us and said to her companion  "don't worry, they have to stop."

She assumed that since the law stated that motor vehicles should give right of way to pedestrians, that this would protect her from being run over by a 4000 pound truck.  And while maybe that is the law, it's still not a very good idea to march out in front of moving vehicles.  Laws are not effective 100% of the time as I've noted before.  And people are prone to making mistakes.  It's a predictable outcome that you'll be run over by a car, if you continue to march out in front of them with the law as your only protection.

But then again, even young law students have told me that illegal things "can't happen" because "they are against the law!"  Makes you kinda sad, don't it?

This got me to thinking that these children must have gotten this idea from their parents, who told them that under the law they are entitled to cross the road and the cars have to stop.  This struck me as a very wrong thing to teach children.  Rather, they should teach the children that the cars are supposed to stop but they should never assume that a 4000 pound car is going to stop in time, all of the time.  All it takes is one slip-up and they are one squashed kid.

When I was eight years old, one of my classmates was run over by a car. He was playing in a pile of leaves in front of his house, and some teenager decided it would be fun to drive through the pile of leaves by the curb.  Back then, we all raked  our leaves out into the road, and the city would come by and vacuum them up with this big vacuum cleaner.  People don't seem to do that anymore, but it was a thing back in the 1960s.  Anyway, this teen thought it'd be fun to drive through this giant pile of leaves and smash it to smithereens, not realizing there was a small child playing inside that pile.

Fortunately, my friend was not killed.  But he was in a full body cast for many months and it was a horrific thing to see.  He eventually recovered, thanks to this youth.  But I'm sure it probably he still has side effects from that incident even today.  And like I said, he was lucky, others are just squashed to death after they encounter a car as a pedestrian.

But beyond cars and pedestrians, I wonder if this teaching doesn't set young people up for failure later in life.  If you are told early on in life that things are always perfect and that there is an idealized view of society that everyone should live up to, one would be rather disappointed to find out later in life that things are not nearly as cut-and-dried.

Life is messy.  People are inefficient, lazy, venal, and corrupt.  The system doesn't always work as it should, and never has.  If you go through life with expectations that everything should be as it was taught to you in grade school, you will end up bitterly disappointed.

And I wonder, if perhaps some of this resentment we see from the younger  generation today is result of this sort of teaching.  Young people are told to be idealistic and told about the great ideals of our society.  They then graduate from high school and leave the comfort of suburbia, only to find out that in the harsh real world, things aren't always as they are set forth in the textbooks.  Suddenly, they are outraged.  There are people making far more money than they are!  There are other folks who are being discriminated against!  And yet there are others who were wrongly convicted or others who were victimized!   It's all so horribly unfair!  After all, people are supposed to obey the law, right?

Maybe this is where the "justice boner" comes from.

While it is a good idea to teach young people about these wonderful ideals that our society strives for, it is also a good idea to ground them in reality.  Rather than tell a grade school child that is okay to ride out into traffic, because the cars will always stop as required by law, it is a better idea to teach them to take precautions in case the car cannot stop, or doesn't see them, or merely disregards the law.

Ideals are fine at all, but it's better to come to grips with reality and not live in a fantasy world.  That is sort of the whole point of this blog.  We should all strive for the ideal world, but be prepared for the shortcomings that always accompany any endeavor of man.

If you want to get ahead in this life, act rationally in an irrational world.   Don't expect the world to suddenly become rational.