Soft Heads

Why there are regulations. I suppose you can argue that if damnfools want to ride motorcycles without helmets, that’s their business, and as a side benefit there will be fewer damnfools in the world.

However, as Susie Madrak says,

See, the rationale behind helmet laws is that head injuries are very expensive to treat. Even victims with insurance often end up on Medicaid after they’re tapped out, and that means taxpayers are picking up the rest of the tab. So yes, Ayn Rand fans, the state really does have a legitimate interest in mandating helmets. Sorry!

The news stories don’t say whether the particular biker whose unhelmeted head was smashed on the pavement after he flipped off his Harley had insurance. Since he died on the scene, the point is kind of moot. But one suspects the people who think the government has no business telling them to wear helmets are often the same people who think the government has no business telling them to get comprehensive medical insurance.

They are free riders more than easy riders.

8 thoughts on “Soft Heads

  1. “They are free riders more than easy riders.”
    I’m sorry for the guy’s friends and family, but he sure made a point, didn’t he? Just not the one he intended to make.

    And just think if we had still had regulations limiting what banks and Wall Street could do. We wouldn’t have had to pay trillions back to billionaires and millionaires who lost money doubling down on a pair of duece’s in a game where the 52 cards were cut and split up and given to millions of people who were told there’s a full house in there somewhere.

  2. Maybe he had health insurance, maybe he had life insurance; but I’ll bet anything that he didn’t have disability insurance. Health insurance or life insurance won’t pay for housing or food or all those other expenses of life. Yes, he (you) might end up on Medicaid but (again) what about everything else? He was living in NYS where there is still provision made for adults without children to possibly get cash assistance (it’s hard and not very much but if he was disabled, he’d probably get something). I think most people don’t look at that side of life — how do you pay for everything when you have no income or no way to get an income. He was stupid and probably wouldn’t have liked living in poverty. He certainly couldn’t have afforded the Harley.

  3. I won’t pretend to be current on the state of motorcycle culture or rehabilitation after post traumatic head injury, now called brain injury or spinal cord injury. I left the field fourteen years ago. I used to review the statistics for SCI and TBI in the State of Florida where I worked. Truthfully, I was more concerned with spinal cord injury at the time and there was a special spinal cord injury prevention program going on back then. The big three causes of injury were gun shot wounds, diving accidents, especially in the summer, and auto/motorcycle accidents. As I recall at that time there were generally about 225 SCI’s per year in Florida, each projected to average about one million (1980’s) dollars cost per injured person over the course of theirs lives, which sad to say, was too often, not very long.

    Motorcycle accidents were a very common cause of injury among my clients. There were currently helmet laws in effect in Florida and I am convinced that many of my clients lives were saved by helmets. As a corollary, when mandatory seat belt laws came into effect in Florida, many people, alas, not the brightest stars among us, were outraged and claimed that the seat belt laws made us “like the Soviet Union”. (Thankfully, cooler heads prevail in our times!) I looked at the SCI stats and the SCI rate for people NOT wearing seat belts was 23 times higher than for those that were. I realize this is far from corroborative, since other factors such as “risk taking personality” might be indicated. But, after reviewing the statistics, I think I’ll go with the seatbelt.

    When the population I worked with shifted to TBI. I noticed one interesting thing that kept coming up in the motorcycle wrecks. Often, momentum caused the helmet to come off. Then a TBI was more likely. For the people I worked with, the TBI was severe.

    I got my first “real” motorcycle in 1978 (a 1940 Indian Chief, 74 cubes for you enthusiasts) I pretty much parked it a couple of years later after helping too many people learn how to get into their wheelchairs and empty their leg bags. That kind of took some of the glamour out of it.

    All this being said, there really needs to be more technology and efficient design applied to helmets. I am out of touch with recent developments, but a lot of people find that helmets restrict their vision and muffle their hearing, which makes them feel unsafe and does affect their ability to avoid traffic hazards. With carbon fiber, computer design, advanced electronics, we ought to be able to come up with something better. Heck, you could put a rearview webcam in it for a few bucks.

    As the article and news report indicate people who have invested so much in being perceived as rugged individualists seldom see the reason for a bit of restraint and a nod toward the common good. But, they often have a change of heart after a catastrophic injury.

  4. “They are free riders more than easy riders”

    This is pretty much the entire right wing these days (teabaggers and libertaritards included). They are free-loaders, they want all the milk and honey but they don’t want to pay for it, typical child like behavior!

  5. My ex-son-in-law, a rabid Republican for all of his adult life, is now a self-professed libertarian. Just the other day, I told him that, in my book, there was a marked similarity between the libertarian and the communist. Needless to say, he (loudly) challenged my comparison. I replied that both systems were utopian, thus unworkable and neither system took human behavior into account so were doomed to fail right out of the gate.

    He rightly pointed out that a communist system was regulation ridden whereas a libertarian system advocated no regulations. I agreed, however, I added that the merit of any system depends on whether it works to the betterment of the whole society and since neither did, their similarity lay in their ultimate inefficacy.

  6. Nicely put, and a nice analysis, Felicity.

    I think that Libertarians are just people who are even greedier and more stupid than the usual Republicans – or brain damaged.

  7. Gary Busey was one of those who hated the requirement to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. He had a very bad motorcycle accident and was wearing his helmet because of the law. He was injured very badly; but, knows now he may have ended up dead. Now, he thinks it is a good thing to have laws requiring the wearing of helmets while riding a motorcycle.

  8. I have to admit I have never read “Atlas Shrugged”, but didn’t one of the characters invent what was essentially a perpetual motion motor? This would be another sledgehammer metaphor for the dynamism of unregulated capitalism, the boundless energy of which would drive society to a fair, just and free world. How did that work out in reality?

    Yes, felicity, I think you did well. When we start believing too solidly in a system or ideology we lose sight of whether it really works or not. We can’t see the sore spots and failures. The system ossifies and crumbles.

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