May 23, 2006

The Safety Nazis

Well, I've been pretty incommunicative around here recently. Sorry about that, but I've had my hands full with my job, family, and fighting a [so far losing] battle against the safety Nazis in Texas government.

Virginia Postrel has already posted a good wrapup, and I can't describe the situation better than Tim Rogers at D Magazine. Seriously. Go read those before you continue, or it might not make sense.

Back? OK. I would only add that Reason's Hit and Run recently referenced a Baby Blues cartoon that perfectly describes the current trend of protecting our kids out of their childhoods.

As I've written before, I'm a board member for The Texas Pool (whose website I happened to design and author during my copious free time).

For four and a half decades, the pool has operated without any diving board injuries that would have been prevented by the new regulations. When looking at the cost-benefit analysis of the new FINA-derived standards, it seems that our benevolent state government believes even one potential injury sometime in the future would be too many. That of course disregards the many risks that responsible individuals take and allow their kids to take every single day. I put my kids at greater jeopardy every time I drive them to school. Or let them ride their bikes to school. Or even let them walk across the busy street to school.

But what really cranks me is that this regulation was slipped through on the sly. There was no public comment and no public record in the Texas Register of any kind of justification for the retroactive application of the new depth and spacing standards to existing diving facilities. Also, the standards come from a set of rules governing competitive diving. It's HARD to hit the bottom of a 10-foot pool unless you dive with a really good form, and kids doing cannonballs is hardly good form (I doubt most of them ever get below 5 or 6 feet).

So how can you begin to fight the professional government inflicted on us by the late 19th-century progressives? Our approach is really two phases (possibly three): (1) ask the State Department of Health to reconsider their decision not to include a grandfather clause for existing facilities, (2) ask our state legislators to overrule the administrative agency, and apply a grandfather clause, and (3) initiate appropriate litigation, contingent on finding an interested pro bono firm.

This would be a great opportunity to try out an "Army of Davids" approach. I can't really take the time to research the epidemiology of diving board/pool depth injuries and in any case don't have ready access to a university library with medical or sports injury journals. But from everything I've read to date, there's no real evidence of significant danger, even from a 3-meter diving board, when the diving well is at least 10 feet deep (as is ours). Most injuries occur in less than 5 feet of water.

Would any of my intrepid readers like to take on a pro bono research project? I already have some leads (authors, journal and article titles). I'm totally serious. If so, contact me at

I will be blogging more, on this and other things.

Posted by JohnL at May 23, 2006 09:06 PM | TrackBack

When I was a kid my dad was attending classes at the USAF base in Witcita Falls, Texas. We were only there briefly, so we rented an apartment. It was a magical summer: I was thirteen, there were lots of other kids around (And my first female love interest). All of the action was around a really nice pool with a diving board and a natural stone waterfall. This was the summer of 1970, if I recall correctly.

Years later I was passing through town on my way somewhere and I took a little "memory lane" tour of the place. Sadly, the pool was fenced off. A few months later when I passed by again, the fence was gone, and the pool was filled in. The apartment couldn't risk the liability.

This is what you get when you let shysters make the laws: They make laws to benefit shysters at the expense of the citizens. The US has been a government of the shysters, by the shysters, and for the shysters for decades now.

When will people figure out that it doesn't matter if the Dems or Reps are in power as long as all of the legislators are shysters, and that having shysters make the laws is a conflict of interest?

There is no way an honorable man can be involved with the law in the US anymore. Unless he's just abjectly ignorant, which is often the case.

Shakespeare figured this out, how many centuries ago?

Posted by: Hucbald at May 31, 2006 12:31 AM
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