The TV news never ceases to start me thinking in the morning. Today I would like to share with you a couple of the items that stirred my consideration. Apparently the Russians have declared that any manned spaceflight to Mars will expose the astronauts to unacceptable levels of radiation.
The first thing that concerns me is the source; I had thought that the Russians were somewhat immune to such modern madness. Who would have thought that a country where 40% of the population smoke would have a limit on radiation for astronauts? This is a country that has developed new breeds of horses, albeit inadvertently, around Chernobyl. I had previously been rather envious of the Russians freedom to innovate without overly burdensome safety constraints.
It seems that I have underestimated the march of Health and Safety; they have already reached Russia in their march for world domination. We should immediately round up all Health and Safety staff and beat them soundly. How would the world have developed if these people had been given such credence in the past? The risk assessment on the Wright brothers would surely have suggested that the risk of flying was too great. Oh yes we have assessed the risks of leaving the ground in powered flight and consider them too great, if you stay on the ground you can’t fall out of that. Columbus would never have been allowed to sail over the edge of the horizon for fear of the unknown.
Imagine the safety tape and cones that would have been needed to prevent normal ships falling off the edge of the world and that is before you add the risk of drowning. Oh no our Health and Safety man would have said ‘we don’t want to be doing that, much safer on dry land’. Imagine for a moment our Stone Age predecessors hungrily eyeing a woolly mammoth. Out runs the Health and Safety rep with his stone clipboard declaring that a vegetarian diet is much less risky. In fairness it is unlikely that he could attack the animal anyway, the Hand Arm vibration assessment would have prevented all that chipping away at flint.
The Industrial revolution not a chance, think of the injuries much safer to do things by hand slowly. Imagine a Health and Safety orchestrated war; Cromwell would have had sticky arrows not sharp ones (far too dangerous). Japan would have received strongly worded letters rather than Nukes. Hitler wouldn’t have stood a chance though; the risk of gas leaks would prevent any consideration of his nefarious plans. Health and Safety are the antithesis of innovation and exploration. I cannot imagine Scot justifying artic exploration to a man with a clipboard muttering ‘but isn’t it too cold’.
In industry we have developed a means of thwarting this troublesome breed and we call it Stealth and Hasty. When a task is too difficult or the Health and Safety constraints are too great we perform it out of hours. It is a well acknowledged fact that Health and Safety only operate on a strictly Monday to Friday daylight hours regime outside of which the risk assessment precludes the use of biros. I am happy to consult with the guys in the various space agencies and introduce them to the Stealth and Hasty method. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly hear of man landing on Mar but don’t recall the launch. It is not a conspiracy or a fraud it is simply that the launch was carried out when Health and Safety were in bed.
The second story that caught my mind this morning was the government acting to stop the scandal of pay day loans. The vast majority of these loans are taken out be people that live on welfare, for me that is just wrong on so many levels but that is a whole other debate. Most of us have at some time used some form of overly expensive credit such as credit cards; it seemed like a good idea at the time after all. We learn the hard way that the costs involved outweigh any short term benefit and our future decisions are better informed for it. For me pay day loans serve the same purpose, yes you will use them but only once.
The trouble with lending against welfare is that it is all ‘free money’ in that it has not been earned. So when you are brought up, as is sadly a common case, on welfare there is no connection between labour and reward. This is where we are told that pay day loans are evil, they allow people to roll one loan into the next and remain in debt forever. I would like to interject some sense into this debate.
It is not, I believe, all about the state intervening in the free market to protect the ill equipped consumer. A far simpler and well established protection is the test of responsibility. As an example in the UK one cannot purchase cigarettes or alcohol until at least the age of eighteen. This is the age that has been decided upon as the one at which we are responsible enough to make the decision to purchase such products. I will not enter the debate on whether that age is appropriate now but try me again at 1am when the weekend drunks wake me up. The point is that this is a simple means of regulation and one that we can extend to so called lenders of last resort.
Clearly age alone is not an indication that you have any sort of financial sense, as witnessed by the examples on the news today. Can I suggest that you become eligible for lending when you answer a multi choice question paper? The questions that I would suggest as a start are:
Where does money come from : A)hard work, B)don’t know, C) Mum, D) It just appears
If you have £10 left to last 4 days what do you spend it on : A) Fags, B) Take Away, C) Food for the children, D) Phone Credit
When is borrowing money from high interest lenders a useful option : A) To get a Flat Screen TV, B) To buy new clothes for a party, C) To pay back another debt, D) Because your wages are late
The best way to obtain something that you want is : A) Save until you can afford it, B) Buy it on mail order then move, C) Borrow from a pay day loan company, D) Steal it
Which 1 of the following should be considered an essential of life: A) Sky TV, B) IPhone, C) Alcohol, D) Bread
The problem is simply that we are allowing people access to market that they are not prepared for. We don’t allow ten year olds to arrange mortgages so why allow people that don’t understand money to borrow. State regulation is an unwieldy tool, far better to keep those that are not responsible from the market than to regulate to accommodate them.