Thursday, April 18, 2019

Want To Know Basis

I was reading a thread on Reddit posted by a young man who had been rear-ended while driving by a young woman who turned out to be uninsured. Her lack of insurance sparked a lively (if not always entirely serious) debate over the requirement that insurance be required for all motorists, given that many places, even urban ones, within the United States lack the public transportation infrastructure to allow a person without access to their own vehicle to reliably cover significant distances. The sides in the debate generally aligned with the idea that people who cannot obtain insurance (especially as a result of having been deemed uninsurable by private insurers) are a) dangerous, and thus should not be driving or b) should not be condemned to a life of being unable to work due to lacking transportation.

But it occurred to me that the availability or lack of insurance shouldn't be a surprise to most people; especially those who have lost access to insurance services due to multiple accidents or driving infractions; a person doesn't go from having a spotless record to being uninsurable as the result of, as some Redditors deemed it, "a single mistake." Living in an area where public transportation options are scarce to non-existent should likewise not be a surprise; although it is worth noting that a lot of people who are accustomed to driving themselves are fairly uninformed about the local public transportation options.

All of this left me with a question: Is this a situation where people have become conditioned to simply not think about the consequences, due to their seriousness? If losing the ability to legally drive runs the risk of completely torpedoing a person's life and future life chances, with little agency or chance of recovery on the part of the impacted individual, is there any rational response to it other than anxiety? And if worrying is the only possible response, what good is that? And it's worth noting that this is simply one of a number of possible situations that a person may find themselves in. I was reminded of the young woman I saw risk a nearly $1,000 fine by throwing a cigarette butt from her car window. Given the plethora of laws that she could possibly run afoul of while conducting here day-to-day life, did it really make sense for her to be educated enough to know a substantial number of them. Or is putting them out of her mind and hoping that the boom doesn't come down on her a rational act under the circumstances.

Hoping for a radical simplification of society seems quixotic, at best. Even if one thinks that laws in the United States, especially when multiple jurisdictions are involved, aren't intentionally Byzantine to the point of being completely incomprehensible, the fact remains that it would take a highly-educated legal expert to keep track of the legal implications of many mundane and apparently inoffensive actions that many of us engage in every day. If knowledge would lead to little more than stress and helplessness, perhaps ignorance is bliss. Until the final straw, that brings everything crashing down, is pulled away.

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