The self-appointed nation’s nanny, Steven Joyce, today got his way forcing taxi drivers to install cameras in their cabs to, somehow, protect themselves against attack--and to increase by the cost of a cab ride, and the cost of entry to new cab-drivers.
Quite how a camera in a cab will protect tax-drivers against attack by numb nuts like the dangerous loon who killed Hiren Mohini in what seemed a spur-of-the moment attack—why a dangerous psychotic would pause in his frenzied attack for “fear” that it might be filmed--is a secret known only to Mr Joyce.
But there was something he could have done which would have avoided intruding upon other’s business and at the same time actually done something to deter crime and protect drivers. It’s a simple enough threesome:
- Remove whatever privacy restrictions exist that bar cab-owners from installing their own cameras voluntarily.
- Have police on the beat to deter the initiation of violence, and require prosecution of criminals for even minor crimes before they get on to bigger ones. Broken windows, if you like.
- Allow cab-drivers (and the owners of dairies and bottle stores) to defend themselves, and to possess, carry and use the means whereby they can.
This last is the most important. It is outrageous that people who provide these essential public services have to place themselves at risk of their lives to serve us. And even the most foolish lunatic is going to think twice if he knows his intended victim has the ability--and the legal backing—to end his attacker’s sorry life instead of having his own terminated.
But I guess defending hard-working new New Zealanders (which describes most of the owners of cabs, dairies and bottle stores) is less important to Steven Joyce than another nannying headline.
UPDATE 1: Looks like I’m not the only one saying this:
Requiring all city cabs to have cameras, regardless of their circumstances, smacks of Nanny State."
"Like many regulations, the scheme is 'one-size-fits-nobody'. For example, cameras will be a pointless expense for drivers who only work during the day. Where is a Treasury cost-benefit analysis when we need one?"
"There is also the undiscussed issue of who is going to police the taxi drivers to ensure they have these compulsory cameras, check that they work correctly, and, of course, punish drivers who choose not to install them. Will there be a list of approved cameras which have been vetted for reliability, image quality and carbon footprint? All this bureaucratic nonsense is totally objectionable."
"Libertarianz believes taxi drivers and taxi companies should be free to install cameras - or not - as they see fit. This government decree is offensive to freedom and common sense."
Libertarianz spokesman Mr Howison also noted that taxi drivers, like dairy owners, should be free to defend themselves from attackers with reasonable force.”
As they should be. The day they’re allowed to is the day attacks on them will either stop, or at least be rewarded with the appropriate response.
UPDATE 2: And there’s more.
Paul Walker, Eric Crampton and Matt Nolan all attack the measure in different ways—Paul asking “why does Joyce think the government has to mandate anything? If taxi drivers want extra safety equipment do they not have all the incentive they need to install it?”; Matt saying “regulating for them to put cameras in is either pointless, or forces taxi drivers to do something where the cost exceeds the benefit – and so is suboptimal”; and Eric Crampton arguing it’s just an anti-competition measure whose real cost is hidden:
The real cost of the soon-to-be-mandatory taxicab cameras won't be the 30-odd cents it adds to the cost of the typical cab ride. Rather, it's the loss of surplus that will come when the World Cup hits in 2011 and jitney cabs will fail to come into the market because of the increased fixed cost of shifting your private car into taxi service.”
Make sure to read their various comments sections where they and their readers debate the real costs of Joyce’s intrusion.