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Reblogged:Can Regulation Ever Be Reasonable?

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A Vox article about the Boeing safety scandal cites the following example of what it calls the FAA "get[ting it] right about airplane regulation:"
Image by Kenny Eliason, via Unsplash, license.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly recommends that you get a separate, secured seat for even a very young child below the age of 2 -- but they haven't banned the practice of carrying your child on your lap in your own seat.

... I've seen this policy criticized. "A kid being held would have been torn from the hands of their parents, and they would have been sucked out the plane," aviation safety expert Kwasi Adjekum told the Washington Post, referring to what happened to Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 on January 5. The National Transportation Safety Board has repeatedly recommended that the FAA ban lap children. [links omitted, bold added]
The FAA doesn't ban the practice because car travel -- which many people might choose if lap children were banned -- is much less safe than air travel, even when children are held on a lap rather than in a separate seat.

The author praises this as an example of big-picture thinking and she is correct that the way the FAA chose to regulate does improve overall safety.

But I have argued in the past that such examples of regulations that mimic rational behavior often fail to account for the cost of lost individual freedom inherent in the uncontested premise that it is appropriate for the state to do our risk calculations for us.

Indeed, thanks to the regulatory state, we are lucky lap children aren't outlawed. I'd prefer not to leave something like that to chance.

I will grant one cheer for the FAA on this matter: So long as we are saddled with a regulatory state (rather than advisory bodies), the least it can do is base its laws on hard science and err on the side of liberty. But the fact that we have dual agencies in disagreement should illustrate the peril inherent in the regulatory state.

That is the big picture that the entire regulatory state misses, but which our founders well understood and hoped to protect us against when, long ago, they declared:
The only legitimate purpose of government is make sure that these individual rights are protected...
I, for one, would rather make up my own mind about what is safest for myself and my children, than have my safety and my options hemmed in by the whims of bureaucrats.

In the big picture, the best way for the government to protect my safety would be for it to protect my freedom to look after myself.

-- CAV

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