Thursday, 10 September 2009

Steven Joyce: Nanny [updated]

There are people who had high hopes for Steven Joyce when he entered government.  He’d been a successful entrepreneur, he’d grown his own radio network, people who knew him told me he’d said things that indicated he knew something about freedom.

But then he got into government and the power went to his head. He’s enjoying spending a billion or two of your money laying a cable being broadband czar.  He’s enjoying spending eight or nine billion of your money bowling homes and laying asphalt being the roads capo. And in his spare time, he’s quite enjoying being this government’s nanny.

He wants to stop you using your cellphone in your car.

He wants to stop you driving if you’re what he considers to be “too young.”

And now he wants to stop you driving even if you can hold your drink better than he can.

Steven Joyce can’t drink three-quarters of a bottle of wine in ninety minutes, and he doesn’t care if you can – over dinner last night he decided he wants to pass a law to ban you.

Frankly, I think he should have spent more time when he was at Massey at the Barbie-Grog.  It might have been better for his liver – and our freedom.

It’s time for zero tolerance for nannies.

UPDATE: David Farrar says, “I see this going the same way as the cellphone debate – a kneejerk reaction with little proof it will actually make a difference to crash statistics.”  He has figures.


  1. I was all set to write a rant on Joyce after listening to him on the ZB breakfast show this morning, but you beat me to it.

    Steven's sounding more and more like John Key these days (centrist & mushy) so no wonder they get along well.

    Whilst acknowledging that the Great Cullen Train Robbery has been a fiscal disaster (which is true) he waffled on about not making any drastic changes because of the importance of "future-proofing" (whatever that means) and scotched the idea of selling it off (on the odd chance that anyone *was* to show interest) or shutting it down altogether, because of the loss to the taxpayer, even though its continuing to burn cash faster than China burns coal.

    A late friend who worked closely with Joyce in his radio days always spoke highly of him, but he's turned out to be just another soft-National statist.

    A shame, isn't it.

  2. Steven Joyce is a businessman, and approaches politics like a businessman; this is his problem (and ours). He views everything by way of pragmatism towards ‘profit’. That is, everyone is a client to him, and as such he sees everything as a negotiating a deal (give a little here, foot down here, wiggle a bit there, read the signs, close the deal etc). He's the guy they employed to "just get the deal done". I've friends of mine who also see government as a business, and they believe it should be 'run' as such. I make it very clear to them that such are ideas are seriously erroneous and can only lead to more interference. Again, his dad is such a thorough Libertarian, he obviously didn’t smack him enough!

  3. I'm with you on most things (trying to build a house in Mapua remotely and on the verge of giving, thanks to the pricks at TDC), but you're wrong on 2 things

    Using a mobile phone while you're driving IS dangerous. It's dangerous on motorways and it's criminal on winding roads.

    Driving while you're p1$$ed is stupid. There has to be a blood-alcohol limit. Let's discuss where it should be.

  4. jb

    You are wrong. Driving with a cell phone is NOT dangerous. If you can't multi-task then you have no business driving.

    Driving after drinking is no big deal. There are those who shouldn't and there are those who can do it without issue. Blood bans fail to ascertain the difference.


  5. JB: Driving carelessly/dangerously is already rightly & properly illegal.

    My being stationary on the m/way stuck in traffic and using a cellphone is neither careless nor dangerous. But after November, it will be illegal.


    The police need to enforce the current laws, that's all. If someone's driving carelessly/dangerously, ticket them.

    If not, leave them alone.

  6. I doubt your views would be the same had one of your family members been killed by someone who was drunk or texting.

    There are some situations when the police are unlikely to fine you for texting by using their discretion. This might include when you are stuck in traffic.

    There is also no guarantee that anyone will die if someone goes into the street and wildly sprays bullets at houses from an M16. They might miss everyone.

    So do you think this should also be legal?

    What country do you wanna live in? Somalia or NZ?

    There has to be some limits imposed when an action has a PROVEN HISTORY of being very very very dangerous to others.

  7. Anonymous: Dangerous driving is dangerous driving, There is already a law on the books for that.

    And your statistics don't show what you'd like them to say, so you've just made that up.

    Shame you couldn't make up a name for yourself by which to post your worthless opinion.

  8. DUI is basically a category under dangerous driving. Why is that such a mental leap to make? There are many laws which have different names but are in effect the same. Why are there separate laws for Rape and Statutory Rape? For assault and grevious bodily harm? They are merely varients or degrees of the same thing.

    Alcohol related deaths in the US since 1982:

    Total fatalities Alcohol related fatalities According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

    Year Number Number Percent
    2000 41,945 17,380 41%
    2001 42,196 17,400 41%
    2002 43,005 17,524 41%
    2003 42,643 17,013 40%
    2004 42,518 16,919 39%
    2005 43,443 16,885 39%
    2006 42,532 15,829 37%
    2007 41,059 15,387 37%

    How many more statistics would you like? There are plenty more.

  9. Total fatalities Alcohol related fatalities According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

    Year Total Alcohol Percent
    Number Related
    2000 41,945 17,380 41%
    2001 42,196 17,400 41%
    2002 43,005 17,524 41%
    2003 42,643 17,013 40%
    2004 42,518 16,919 39%
    2005 43,443 16,885 39%
    2006 42,532 15,829 37%
    2007 41,059 15,387 37%

  10. Here is a link:


  11. @LGM
    Oh, I DO apologise.
    You're THAT LGM, of the legendary multitasking skills (undoubtedly on a par with ATPL skill-sets) and with the unique ability to determine when his driving skills are impaired by alcohol. Not that they ever would be, of course. Just like Detective Sergeant John Gualter.
    I have no problem with your getting an honourable mention in the Darwin Awards - it's the collateral damage that concerns me.

    Agreed with stationary use not being an issue. Of course, NZ police won't see it like that, especially with their UK role models prosecuting for Lack of Due Care and Attention for eating a sandwich while driving.

  12. jb

    How about addressing the point? In this case you have failed to consider that it is not dangerous to use a cellphone while driving. You've presented absolutely nothing to support your tenuous position. What you have done is resorted to shallow cant. That isn't good enough.

    Various statists (including state funded "researchers") make the claim that cell phone use while driving is dangerous, but real experience demonstrates that is not necessarily the case. Traffic accidents have not increased and even had they done so it would still require that a direct causal link to cell phone use be established and proved for the claims of "dangerous" to hold. A necessary detail is that the actual "mode of failure" would need to be identified and understood. [To clarify by example, it would not be correct to establish that aircraft crashes occur and then conclude that flying aircraft should be banned as it is potentially dangerous].

    There are means and ways to use a cellphone while driving that are safe and do not result in crashes. A blanket ban fails to recognise the difference between safe and unsafe operational behaviour. It is not supported by real evidence, only by self-serving justifications.
    Same deal goes for driving after drinking. The practice is safe if means and ways to undertake it safely and with due care and attention are employed. Again, blanket bans fail to address the issue properly.

    BTW there is a related substantive matter you ought to direct your attention to. That is, the matter of who owns the roads. They are, after all, public property and that recognition has certain consequences.

    Finally, if you are scared of the consequences of driving on the road, if the risks are too much for you to bear, then you have no business being on the road in the first place.

    A quote:

    "A free man must be able to endure it when his fellow men act and live otherwise than he considers proper. He must free himself from the habit, just as soon as something does not please him, of calling for the police." -Von Mises

    Something for you to think about.


  13. It seems LGM has failed to realise that statistically in the USA more than 35% of traffic fatalities are related to alcohol. More than a substantial link.

    But LGM will continue to ignore the facts. Of course if it suits the argument he is presenting.

    Also LGM has failed to realise that using a cellphone is an act of dangerous driving. In much the same way as spraying a semi-automatic into a crowd is also dangerous. There is a chance that you won't hit anyone but the fact that you are not concentrating on the road ahead is dangerous enough to put other drivers at an unacceptable level of risk.

    People are entitled to not have their life threatened every time LGM drives. But of course LGM believes he has a right to threaten everyone elses life. Promising to pay damages after the fact is not the same as not causing the crash in the first place. Your promises that you can use a cell phone properly are not enough to allay rational peoples fears. Therefore the ban is justified on the basis of the reasonable protection of other citizens right to life.

  14. But the risks aren't the same are they? You can't deny that being a person in the crowd that someone is firing into is much more dangerous than being on the road when someone is using the phone.

    You can't categorically state that someone on the phone is not concentrating on the road. They may be not concentrating on the phone call.

    Furthermore, it's not black and white. It's likely that many drivers are still paying more attention while on the phone than others are when they are not, so why should the phone user be punished arbitrarily.

    The only reasonable standard to punish people on is their actual driving performance.

    If they are driving dangerously for any reason, they should be ticketed. If they are driving safely they should be left alone. What theu happen to be doing at the time does not need to come into it.

  15. Anon quoted:

    Year Number Number Percent
    2000 41,945 17,380 41%
    2001 42,196 17,400 41%
    2002 43,005 17,524 41%
    2003 42,643 17,013 40%
    2004 42,518 16,919 39%
    2005 43,443 16,885 39%
    2006 42,532 15,829 37%
    2007 41,059 15,387 37%

    The figures doesn't show the causes. It showed some declines, but that's it. It could be caused by global warming, ie, negative correlation. It could be caused by the All Blacks winning records, ie, positive correlation. It could be in fact caused by the rise of people believing in psychics or many countless possible variables that we never thought of before.

    Social studies quoting statistics is bullshit.

  16. Sorry Fisi but if you follow this link you will find that the statistics are collected by law enforcement agencies at crash sites and show that more than 35% of deaths are related to alcohol consumption.

    The statistics speak for themselves. 35% of deaths occur when someone who was drinking was driving. That is not a small coincidence my friend.

  17. The assignment of causal factors for road crashes is notoriously unreliable. For example, if you had any alcohol in your system, it would be listed as a factor whether it actually contributed or not. Ditto with speed and various other boxes they can tick. The alcohol factor also takes no account of the amount of alcohol consumed or the person's tolerance to it.

  18. You obviously didnt read the article TWR.

    "Alcohol-impaired driving crashes are crashes that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle rider (operator) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/dL or above."

    So your critique is way off.

    There is a heap of research that points to a strong link between alcohol-impaired driving and fatalities. For example:

    Reducing Alcohol-impaired Driving: 0.08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Laws:

    "...Fatalities due to alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes: median decrease of 7% following implementation of the law (interquartile range: 15% to 4% decrease; 7 studies)"

    "...Potential lives saved per year if all states enact 0.08% BAC laws: 400 - 600 (3 studies)"

  19. No, I didn't. I'd like to see a study that compared actual before and after deaths rather than potential lives saved. By the way, I'm not arguing that people don't become worse drivers when they get drunk, I'm merely saying that for lower measured numbers, blood alcohol level is a poor absolute (or Absolut) measure of driving ability.

  20. Anonymous,

    1. The figures you were invited to look at and respond to were those linked to in the post, from the NZ Ministry of Transport showing, as David Farrar summarised, that "most drunk drivers who end up dead are totally plastered," meaning that "a lowering of the limit to 50 would possibly result in one less fatal crash every six months."

    That's the point. Lowering the blood alcohol limit is unlikely to do anything to avert dangerous driving. Cracking down on dangerous driving, however, will. And there are already laws in place to do that -- if not the interest in doing so.

    2. Stop being anonymous. Either use a name with your posts, or have your posts deleted.

  21. Farrar wrote: "...So most drunk drivers who end up dead are totally plastered. A lowering of the limit to 50 would possibly result in one less fatal crash every six months."

    There is a good reason to accept his opinion there. But PC he was not talking about abolishing the limit but rather comparing it if it was raised.

    The links I provided show decades of research conducted in the USA showing a consistent positive correlation between enacting Blood Alcohol limits and reductions in Alcohol-related road deaths.

    You have a striking lack of logic in your statements if you assert that having no limit would reduce alcohol-related road deaths. All the evidence collected suggests that minimum levels of .08 are effective at reducing deaths.

    This is different to mobile phones for which there is far less convincing evidence. They are obviously less of a danger but still many people obviously think there is some danger or they could not put it through parliament.

  22. TWR only the bottom study was about potential lives saved. There were about 40 studies on the site ALL on actual lives lost before and after enactment of Alcohol limits and ALL studies showed a statistically significant positive correlation between Alcohol limits and reduced alcohol-related road deaths.

    So, there is really nowhere for your to squirm on that one.

    You should go back to cell phones I suggest because that is a much easier debate to win.

  23. I think the discussion was centred on whether people should be punished for actual dangerous driving or for behaviours that were potentially dangerous. You could argue that any driving is potentially dangerous, and I certainly wouldn't attempt to deny that driving hammered is dangerous. However, vilifying people who are never going to kill or hurt anyone because they happen to have exceeded a fairly arbitrary limit (.81 rather than .79 for example) does not achieve the safety goals you desire.

  24. Anonymous

    Well, I'm certainly not going to accept some half-arsed assertions just because they were generated by you.

    Statistics and facts are not the same thing. Try very hard to understand that. Come on now. Concentrate- you can do it.

    You have presented some questionable statistics, repeated a simplistic correlation, attempted to stretch that all the way to pre-packaged conclusion (complete with your favourite policy prescription- a blanket ban). How banal. The gaps in your hierarchy of thought are substantial- they undermine it.

    Its all very well throwing around some statistics from the NHTSA, but what you have to ask is how good those statistics are. How were they collected? By whom were they collected? For what purpose were they collected? Under what circumstances were they collected?

    The NHTSA is a political body which owes its existence to certain political motivations and extingencies. As with most state bureaucracies its primary motivations are self-perpetuation and expansion. What is politically expedient for that outfit determines its behaviour and operation. To that end presenting incomplete, inconsistent or slanted information is standard operating procedure. Therefore ANYTHING from that source needs extremely careful evaluation.

    From personal experience in the automotive industry I can state with authority that road accidents are not often examined in a logical, scientific way. Facts are neglected, lost or ignored. Such "information" that is "collected" is stretched, primped, packaged and altered right from the git-go so as to ensure it fits pre-ordained policy. It is as good an example of artifact feed-back as could be found.

    Take home lesson: In order to validate your somewhat random claims you need to do a great deal more than present dubious statistics, simplistic correlations of unreliable provenance.

    BTW what you also need to understand is that the road crash policy generating industry has hindered the development of safer, better personal surface transportation. It has reduced the utility of every road vehicle now manufactured or used. This has occurred due to reliance on simplistic claim, propaganda and an unreliable, amateurish approach to problem solution. It has occurred due to simple political expediancy. It has achieved the opposite of what many of its greatest believers loudly promote. Unfortunate, but were you to do some proper research that is what you'd discover.

    As for the rest of your position, it's trivial and easily dismissed. If you are so scared that you feel threatened by my driving behaviour, then you have no business being on the road. After all, you're the one who fears he might get hurt. It is YOUR decision to take the risk or to avoid it.

    With that I'm off to drive to the pub.



  25. LGM et al
    OK, let's just accept that the generally accepted and documented causality argument doesn't carry much weight around here.

    And let's accept that driving while using a phone/with a significant blood alcohol level/with drug (legal or otherwise) altered sensory perception/fatigued does not PER SE result in negative outcomes.

    It CAN, however, result in negative outcomes when the concentration and adequate reactions that are required to address unanticipated externalities are degraded to the extent that they're inadequate.

    Sus is correct in stating that
    "Driving carelessly/dangerously is already rightly & properly illegal"

    A concern for some people is that - without sanctions against people KNOWINGLY reducing their sensory/motoric skill sets - this transgression will frequently carry the suffix "causing death/injury."

    Let's talk about personal responsibility instead.

    Are you happy to assess your own blood alcohol level as being tolerable when it's just you in the car?
    How about with 3/50/400/800 passengers, as in car/bus/B747/A380? Not talking about collateral damage and certainly not factoring in the argument that "if you are so scared that you feel threatened by my driving behaviour, then you have no business being on the road"

    By the same token, you'd - I assume - think that it's just your bad luck if you're mugged on Queen Street early on Saturday morning. Those people have the right to assault and rob you if they want to - you shouldn't have been there in the first place. You knew the risks, right? So you can't complain. Just one of life's risks.

    Can I also assume that your technical skills are such as being able to determine if a valid WoF is necessary or not and that you thus drive an unregistered car?

    Or are the risks of detection so much higher than driving with impaired senses that you'd think twice about it.

    And I'm really sorry, but there ARE studies that reliably demonstrate the correlation between degraded reaction times/perception (as in "sensory/motoric skill sets") and fatigue/consumption of alcohol/medication/reduced blood oxygen levels.

    Not that I'm saying that they have anything to do with road accidents, of course.....

    Oh, and Peter - if you object to anonymous posts, turn the feature off.

  26. If you reject the causality argument you basically reject 100% of scientific reasoning. And you are then back in the realms of the middle ages and witchcraft.

    Causality-predicted outcome is the basis for all human action. If we could not reasonably predict the outcome of an action we would have no reason to do it. And life would become meaningless and a series of random events.

    But alas life is not. There is action followed by reasonably expected reaction.

    It just so happens that after people put two and two together and found that most of them had a problem walking straight when they were drunk they REASONABLY assumed that it could also affect driving ability and therefore cause accidents. SUbsequent has shown this prediction to be supported by FACTUAL EVIDENCE collected over decades from multiple countries.

    You can attack the collection of the evidence if you like. Being a skeptic is good. But others will judge that assertion on its merits. I cannot see how all of those studies could possible have beein joined in a big cover up intentional or otherwise. We are talking about statistics where people were charged because of their Alcohol levels so it is a serious matter that cannot simply be made up for stats. No-one said that the drink was judged to have caused the accidents but simply that one of the participant drivers was drunk. There was not causal link proved.

    It is up to the mind of the person seeing those stats. Also knowing what alcohol can to to a person and putting two and two together a reasonable person would conclude that a drunk person has a high risk of causing injury or death.

    As for the "if you are scared bugger off the road" argument. It only works on your property. On public property the public makes the rules. They rules that on the weight of evidence they would rather not allow drunk people to drive. Seems reasonable and rational to me.

    It seems like there is a high probability of someone firing a semi-automatic into a crown killing people. But it is possible to miss isn't it. So you can show me all the studies you want and I will attack the credibility of the data collection and still insist that people have a right to randomly fire bullets at anyone anywhere and they will only be charged if they hit. If you wanna live in that kind of world you are a mad man.

    In the face of an action which can be reasonably predicted to cause injury society bans it. period.


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