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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You Get More of What You Reward

A Guest Post from The Other Cliff, sent last night.

Today on the way home from work, I stopped at a bad auto accident to help out.  Several things about this accident jumped out at me.  First, a description.  This was an offset head-on collision; the worst you can have.  In such a collision, the two drivers meet head-on, with only the driver's side of each car overlapping.  In this accident, both cars were totaled beyond recognition.  One car had been moving at the speed limit of 55 and the other at about 40.  When I got there seconds after the accident, one of the cars was smoking, but the smoldering was contained to the engine compartment, or what was left of it, and did not spread.  The other car, a Hyundai Sonata of recent vintage, was so destroyed that the front left wheel was canted in, from the top, more than 50 degrees.  The running board was on the ground.

What is striking to me is that, while the fire department was going to have to use the jaws of life to get the Hyundai driver out of the car, that was more of a preventative measure.  Had he felt up to it, he could have crawled out under his own power.  I know from personal experience (about 7 years as a firefighter/EMT) that had these cars been twenty years older, this would have been a double fatality.  As it is, I'm betting both drivers will be home tonight, or tomorrow at the latest.

Engineering has come a long way in a short time, and we have two more taxpayers alive tonight who can absorb some more of societies burdens because of it.  Can any of the liberal arts majors make the same claim?  If the taxpayers are going to continue to fund student loans, perhaps we should reconsider our criteria, after all, you get more of what you reward and you get more of what you make easier to achieve.

The Other Cliff


Craig H said...

I'm continually astounded at how often people can blame "liberal" what have you (arts, politics, voters, etc.) in the same breath they are marveling at something our liberal politics have given us--in this case, automobile safety regulations. It's the reverse irony of liberal OWS folks complaining about big business while they yak on their iPhones over their cell networks to all their friends using their iGadgets too.

We have a problem in this country, and it's the right and left calling names and blaming each other while the bankers and their pocket politicians rig the system printing money that they loan to governments at interest for boondoggle pork and special interests, thus impoverishing and indenturing the entire world in the process.

I am grateful two more people remain alive to remain productive, and I feel thankful to both the engineers and the enlightened regulations which required them to build their cars that way.

Good on all of us.

the Other cliff said...


I said liberal arts, not liberals. For all I know, the engineers might have been liberals. My larger point is that if we want more engineers, then we should support that. If we agree that English majors with massive, unpayable debt, are bad, then we should not encourage that.

As for me, I have a computer science degree and student loan debt from law school, so I straddle the issue.

C R Krieger said...

I am with The Other Cliff on this.

We have automobiles and progress, well before we might otherwise of have had it based upon the Liberals of the 19th Century implementing their ideas.  Those ideas show up today mostly amongst Libertarians.

Liberal Arts as reference to College refer colloquially to those subjects that are not on the STEM side, although by strict definition Math is part of a liberal education, but I bet that answer won't pop up in nine out of ten lists by college graduates.

As for car safety, it wasn't all from people in DC adding new regulations.  Our first Volvo, purchased in 1970, was a vehicle designed with safety in mind—safety as a selling point.  Ms Warren notwithstanding, not everything good that is happening is because of Government Regulations.

Regards  —  Cliff

Craig H said...

My point is not to object to the fruits of our capitalist-driven engineering system, but to point out that we have *safe* cars because that capitalist-driven for-profit engineering side of our system is required to be married to conscience-driven for-safety engineering at the same time. "Liberal Arts" are a convenient target, but "ethics" was not a course offered as part of the engineering curriculum that I was offered. And, puh-leeze, do not confuse the "ethics" ruse tossed into my business school curriculum either. We need balance.