Should governments protect us from our own stupidity?

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
March 15, 2019 - 7:49 am

We had an interesting discussion this morning about people stuck in their smart phones, not paying attention, and the government's role in protecting them from walking into traffic.

A test system is being deployed in Israel that includes LED lighting in the ground to alert people looking down at their phones that the light in red and not to walk into traffic.  The lights embedded in the street would change to green when it was safe to cross.

In theory, I think this is a great idea to prevent pedestrian deaths.  The cost, however, is a totally other issue.  

Do you want your tax dollars spent on a system like this?  Is it governments' job to protect us from our own stupidity?

Some may argue that saving even one life would justify the cost.  They would say if it works in Tel Aviv, then deploy it here too.  One person texted to say they have seen it in Texas, and they like it.

"In Austin, they've had inground lights for years. It looks really neat," they texted.

Others say, "Government spends money on plenty of things that are a bigger waste."  And, "If we can't convince people to pay attention, may as well install the lights.  I don't want to run someone over... even if they are stupid."

Critics, however, say that is not the correct use of public funds.  They say government can only go so far to protect us from ourselves.

Here are some of the texts we got at 870870 opposing the lights:

  • No lights, Let natural selection take place.
  • Not the governments responsibility if you're that f*#^ing stupid you deserve to get hit and die.
  • The governments job is to represent us and distribute our text dollars in a fair and reasonable manner. Stupid people are not supposed to survive
  • Installing the lights would interfere with natural selection

This is the AP story that launched the discussion:

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ When people cross city streets, they're supposed to look up to make sure they have the light in their favor. But these days, so many people are glued to their smartphones, their focus is downward, not up at crossing lights. Authorities in Tel Aviv, Israel have taken a step toward helping ``smartphone zombies'' _ by installing special LED lights at a busy crosswalk. The striped lights turn green when it's safe and red to tell people to stop. Officials in Tel Aviv say they will expand the ``zombie lights'' if they seem to work.  

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