In which I show how heartless I am

I get lots of flattering pub because of my philanthropic activities, and people have recently said – in my hearing – that I’m one of the most generous people they know.  So, in the interest of stopping this right now, let me offer the following:

First, read this article.  For the lazy, it’s about how a Good Samaritan was ticketed for jaywalking after helping some old ladies across the street in a snowstorm.  He was hit and hospitalized after pushing the ladies out of the way of an oncoming truck.

Finished?  Make you blood boil?  Great.  Glad to hear it.  Because I’m going to argue that the ticket is justified, because that’s the way we have chosen to handle these kinds of situations.  It’s the wrong way, and there’s a better way, but this is the one we chose and as long as we have it, it needs to be followed.

Let’s try this another way. Suppose the pickup driver had MISSED them, but totaled his truck trying to avoid people wandering around in the middle of the street in a snowstorm. Who should compensate the driver for his truck? Obviously, if you injure someone or damage their property, even if you’re Mother Teresa, you have to take responsibility for that injury. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t mean to. It doesn’t matter if you were averting a greater injury. If you cause damage to someone through your actions, you should compensate the injured party for that damage.

And yes, the driver is being held to that same standard, and his bill is going to be a lot higher.

Of course, it must be said, the system we suffer under isn’t constructed to handle property-rights claims in the simple way I have outlined above. Under the current system, only the GOVERNMENT will get compensated, through ticket revenue and fines. The driver will not have to pay for the medical bills of the guy he hit, and the guy he hit will not have to compensate the driver for the damage to his truck. The injured parties will have to deal with the government instead of each other. There is nothing whatever of justice in it.

But then, I advocate a system where the government doesn’t have a role in these sorts of things.  The court system is where these kinds of competing claims ought to be administered, but that would require a very different court system to the one we currently “enjoy”, and a significantly greater percentage of the population to qualify as adults.  I’m not holding my breath.

In my town, a lay judge, someone agreed on by both parties as being fair and impartial, would take the busted truck and the busted guy, weigh the circumstances, judge according to the available evidence, and render a decision that would have compensation to the injured parties.  No tickets need to be issued (what does the city have to do with this, anyway?), and no police involved (there aren’t any crminals here, no one that is dangerous and has to be restrained).  Simple justice, meted out by a judge so that everyone gets a fair shake.

It requires a twist to the current way of thinking, but it would work.  It has worked.  It DOES work.

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