I’m fond of saying that the two iron laws of modernity are 1) things are getting better, and 2) people think they’re getting worse.
One more piece of evidence that these laws hold: this article complaining about Siri. Siri is a voice-activated program that comes with new iPhones. Users can ask their phone where, say, the nearest Thai restaurant is. Just say it out loud. No typing. In seconds, Siri gives out a dozen options, with maps, directions, and even menus.
It’s an amazing piece of technology, and it will only improve in the coming years. And this guy grouses that Siri “won’t tell me how much battery life is left, or turn my Wi-Fi antenna on or off.” What an astonishing mindset. It is disheartening that when faced with such cool innovations, people invariably find ways to complain about them.
On the other hand, if consumers weren’t such harsh sovereigns, many of today’s innovations might never happen in the first place. Modernity’s second iron law — people think things are getting worse — is a double-edged sword.
Three states are proposing to make it illegal to listen to your iPod while crossing the street. Legislators in California, New York, and Oregon are leading the charge, citing increasing pedestrian deaths. A similar proposal in Arkansas was retracted after constituents mobbed the state legislator who wrote the bill with hate mail.
Pedestrian deaths did go slightly up last year. But pedestrian deaths have been trending down for two decades, despite the rise of iPods and smartphones. Turns out that most people have enough common sense to pay more attention to traffic than their phone while crossing the street.
Legislating common sense is at best redundant. But in this case, it’s actually harmful. Police departments only have so many resources to go around. All the time and manpower they spend watching people cross the street is time and manpower not spent on more serious crimes. This is a solution without a problem.
Caroline May has more over at the Daily Caller (I am also quoted).
Posted in Media Appearances, Nanny State, Regulation of the Day
Tagged caroline may, crossing the street, daily caller, iphone, ipod, Nanny State, nanny state regulation, pedestrian deaths, public safety, regulation, Regulation of the Day, safety