So Safe It's Killing Us With Boredom

There's been a long term trend that seems to be accelerating, that being government control of the most mundane and commonsensical items and actions in our lives. All of this is done in the name of 'safety', with the reasoning being “If it only prevents one injury or saves one life it's worth it!” This item or action can be something we as humans have been dealing with for generations but that the government now sees as a major risk to life, limb, or the environment. The government is trying to make life risk free...something that is inherently impossible. But that won't stop them from trying.

Some of this can be attributed to the rampant “Do Something!” mentality of those who want Big Government to be our Mommies and Daddies. Some can be attributed to the arrogance of our 'betters' who think we need to be protected from ourselves because we're too stupid while at the same time providing them with more control over every aspect of our lives. Some can also be attributed to the overbearing trial lawyers forcing manufacturers to include Cover Your Ass safety features and labeling because some people are just too stupid to use their products safely and this buys them some limited protection from those same stupid people injuring themselves when they misuse the product.

What brought this about was something simple – trying to gas up the Official Weekend Pundit Lawnmower. The gas cans we've been able to buy over the past few years aren't the same as the ones we've been able to buy for the past few generations. They have airtight valves and no vents, with catches that must be moved before we can move a handle that opens those valves. Sometimes it can be a real pain to move those catches, making it difficult to use the gas can. It most cases it requires two hands release the catch and press down on the handle. And when we finally get it open there is a rush of air either into or out of the gas can. Then when trying to pour gas into the tank of a lawnmower, snowblower, or other gas powered tool, the fuel flow is poor, tending to gush then pause, gush then pause, because there's no vent to allow air to flow into the gas can. This in turn can cause gas to splash outside the fuel tank. How can anyone think this is safe?

Remember that rush of air I mentioned when the valve was opened? That is a symptom of a poor design, meaning that while the intent was to prevent gas fumes from escaping from the gas can while it sits in the garage, it also doesn't allow the pressure inside the can to equalize with the pressure outside. One more than one occasion over the past few years I've seen our gas can either swelling as if it were going to burst or collapsing as if it had been crushed. Only by opening the airtight valve does the pressure equalize. And if the tank is swelling, all that opening the valve does is vent those environmentally dangerous gas fumes into the air. That defeats the purpose, doesn't it? So you have 'safe' gas cans that are neither environmentally friendly or functionally useful.

There. Two whole paragraphs just about gas cans, and gas cans are the least of the irritatingly 'safe' products foisted upon us by our nanny-statist government. There are plenty of others about which I can go into lengthy diatribes. But I can list a number of goverment-mandated or CYA 'safety' things I find quite annoying as well as unneeded.

- Lawnmowers, specifically push mowers, no longer have throttles and run at only two speeds: on and off. That also ties in with the engine brake that causes the engine to stop when you release the mower handgrips.

- When the engine brake no longer works the only way you can shut the engine off is to pull the spark plug wire while it is running at full speed.

- Warning labels up the wazoo about not putting your hands and feet under the mower deck while the engine is running, and those labels are in 8 different languages!

- Warnings about not using various electrical appliances while taking a bath or shower. One of my favorite such warning labels was seen on an electric blanket. It begs the question “How many people take a blanket, electric or otherwise, into the bath or shower when they bathe?”

- Warnings about taking a sleeping aid, like Ambien or Lunesta, and then operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle. Other than drug abusers, who does that?

- An old one that no longer exists, but still sticks in my mind: Ignition interlocks that wouldn't allow a car engine to start unless the driver's seatbelt was fastened. It may have sounded great on paper, but it actually caused more problems than it solved. For the most part people would leave the seatbelt retracted but buckled and would sit on them rather than use it. This was particularly true of people who were constantly in and out of their vehicles, like police officers, for example. If the interlock failed, the engine wouldn't start and you had a dead car. As I recall this happened a lot.

- Another old one that no longer exists: The 85MPH speedometer. It was the brilliant idea of Joan Claybrook, head of the National Transportation and Safety Administration during the Carter Administration. She figured that if the speedometers didn't go past 85 MPH, people wouldn't speed. Yeah. Right.

- Tying in with the 85MPH speedometer was the National Maximum Speed Limit, with the highest speeds allowed on all highways, state or federal, set to 55MPH. The reasoning was that it saved lives, but traffic statistics proved that to be a wrong assumption. It was also the most ignored law since Prohibition and was finally killed by Congress during the Reagan Administration.

- Numerous toys were deemed too dangerous to use and were either banned or killed off by trial lawyers. One of my favorites: Lawn Darts, also know as Lawn Jarts or Yard Darts.

That's just a few of the lengthy list I could have put up showing how over the years government (and trial lawyers) have gotten it wrong in regards to 'safety'.

What it all comes down to is that for the most part people are smart enough to use various everyday items safely and responsibly. Those that aren't either don't care, are chemically impaired, or just not too bright and don't have a lick of common sense. (Not that it's all that common these days.)

There was one of those eCards I had posted here some time ago that dealt with warning labels and safeguards that certainly made me think. It stated, “Maybe we should remove all of the warning labels and let Nature take its course.” I have to state that as I've gotten older, I've come to think that it might not be such a bad idea. After all, every time we come up with something that is supposedly foolproof, the fools figure out a way around it and still injure themselves or others. You can only make things safe enough to a point. After that all of the safety features start interfering with the function of the item and the item becomes useless, or worse, dangerous in a different manor unforeseen by the nannies.