The Pink Police State isn’t Pink, it’s Green. And it’s an Insurance Company.
As told in my comment on the League’s What is Your Sputnik Moment thread, I don’t like to drive faster than the posted speed limit.
I don’t like driving faster than the posted speed limit because we live on a residential street, posted limit 30 mph — where people regularly drive 40mph or faster.
One day, and predictably, one of our cats was struck and killed.
Undoubtably, the driver who killed her was driving faster than the posted limit, and in my grief I resolved that I would like to do everything I could to make sure that I was never involved in a motor vehicle fatality, and that if I obeyed the posted limits (which admittedly feels quite slow in most situations) I would almost for sure be able to react in time to avoid a cat, or dog, or deer, or a child.
Following through has proved to be a nearly daily excerise in mindfulness.
There is of course my own inattentiveness. Some of you are probably too young to remember what cars were like before the advent of aerodynamic shapes and “aircraft-style” doors, but cars used to provide a lot more feedback about speed. I remember driving a Ford Taurus on I-5 in 1985 and even though I had been warned that I would soon be traveling faster than I realized, it wasn’t long before I was barreling along at 75-80 mph.
Aside from my own inattentiveness, there is also the undeniable pressure of a line of cars on one’s bumper.
I like to think of myself as more inured to social pressure than the average person, but even still, looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing cars stacked up is sometimes more than I can bear. I will sometimes exceed the speed limit because it’s easier, less stressful and/or safer than “standing-on” or pulling over to the shoulder and letting cars pass. When I have to drive in the LIE, I drive in the HOV lane and keep 5 seconds between me and the car in front of me, regardless of the speed.
Cars, of course, are much safer now than they were in 1985, and they probably handle better too. Probably under 99% of situation, 75mph in a 2012 model year auto is safer than 55mph in a 1972 Ford F150.
But some things don’t change.
Aircraft doors and anti-lock brakes or no, force still equals mass times velocity squared. A recent study of pedestrian/auto interactions in NYC suggested that pedestrians struck by autos going 30mph have an 80% chance of surviving. Pedestrians struck by autos going 40mph have a 70% chance of dying.
Last Spring, when I applied for a liabitly insurance policy for our Sailing Montauk operation, I had to sign a document releasing my DMV records to the insurance company. Well I didn’t have to, but they didn’t have to write me an insurance policy either. Our transaction was consensual. I could have asked them to quote me a price absent my driving record, and if they wouldn’t write a policy under those terms, I’m sure my agent could have found a carrier who would. Like lending, there’s always someone willing to take the action.
Again, when I applied for builder’s risk insurance for the Mon Tiki Eco Catamaran Project, I was asked to sign a release for my DMV records. Apparently insurance companies have found one’s driving habits to be a useful proxy.
If I understand James Poulos‘ Pink Police State contention, it’s that an increasingly decadent populous will (eagerly) trade important freedoms for petty indulgences. In his writing on the subject James cites the state’s tolerance of increasingly licentious behavior regarding sex and drugs combined with the State’s ever tightening grip on every other aspect of our lives.
The libertarianish part of me has some sympathy to this argument. Watching TV week or two ago, my youngest daughter cried out “He just said a bad word!” when someone uttered the word “gun”. When I asked her where she learned “gun” was a bad word, she said “school”.
I bristled; and I’ve had similar experiences with regard to food, energy consumption, and other “politically correct” topics.
I remember not too long after I met my wife, and we were on the New York State Throughway on a trip up to the Gunks for some climbing and camping. She told me that a former boyfriend of hers had suggested that the time-stamp on the toll-tickets would be a useful tool for detecting speeders. This was right around the time that Easy-Pass was being introduced, and it didn’t take a paranoid IT genius to connect the dots.
But we Americans are touchy when it comes to our cars. As easy as it would be to create an Easy-Pass system of speed enforcement, I don’t think it’s something that’s going to happen anytime soon.
I have written previously that I think “the Conservative Cultural Project fails, not because it goes too far, but because it doesn’t go far enough“. People are notoriously dishonest about their drinking, drugging, and sexual habits, even with themselves. It strikes me a shaky ground upon which to build a cultural counter-revolution, let alone a renaissance.
Also, Progressive Insurance doesn’t care how fast you drive, so long as the police don’t catch you.