Risk, sex and airbags
Aaron Kinney is amused (and rightly so) by the religious argument against sex education.
Christians and other self-repressed prudes constantly whine that teaching kids about “safe sex” will effectively tell the kids that it’s ok to be promiscuous whores. Now, I’ve always found this reasoning a little suspect. The first time I heard this line of arguing, I thought to myself, “Did Christians also complain during the introduction of air bags in automobiles that they would encourage reckless driving?”
However, the Christians may be partially correct.
The argument should not be that education “gives people ideas” but that the things thought to be wrong are not at all. Sex education may give ideas (though with the internet that makes for nothing) and they may become more promiscous, but then the assumption is that promiscuity is wrong in the first place.
The funny thing is the mention of airbags. Russ Roberts had an interesting interview with Sam Peltzman on regulation ( http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2006/11/peltzman_on_reg.html ) wherein they touch on the issue of airbags briefly. It seems that indeed, airbags are linked slightly more accidents. The incentive to drive safely diminishes and this seems to be empirically confirmed.
It doesn’t mean that an airbag is necessarily bad (a car owner has a right to protect himself), but that the heavy handed nature of state regulation always has unintended consequences. Had the state not mandated them, fewer road deaths would have occured.
Walter Block would jokingly say that the best and most efficient form of airbag would be an ice-pick. This sounds counter-intuitive, but just think how safely would people drive if even a slight bump could kill them. This, of course, is not a plea for regulation, but that we reconsider the idea that safety trumps everything. Because, after all, the safest kind of car is one that’s permanently sitting idle.
In conclusion, I oppose regulation along with public school sex education. Bureaucrats should have no power to decree “safety” in any area, including sex.