Friday, March 09, 2012

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR'S: Checkpoint!

_McGrath001This week, Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath has been sniffing minerals and evading checkpoints. Unsuccessfully.

"Sir, could you just say your name and address into this little machine, and then promise not to exploit the minerals?"

Sometimes you can almost sympathise with people who lose the plot at the ubiquitous random police checkpoints that spring up in the most annoying places at the most awkward times. The last two times I was stopped personally were at 10 a.m. on a week day on my way to visit a sick rest home patient, and at 5.45 p.m. dropping my son off in in Naenae before heading into Wellington to meet up with Lindsay Mitchell and James Bartholomew.

Not only did the Naenae checkpoint cause a massive traffic jam backing up onto the railway overbridge (and was therefore a road hazard), but it made me late for my meeting. I would have had a breath alcohol reading of zero but a rage quotient going into the red; the screening sniffer device did not detect any alcohol.   The officer holding it may have detected the anger.

Random stoppages at roadblocks should not happen in a free country. Why oh why do we tolerate them?

A woman, who admittedly over-reacted when questioned by a police officer, was described by Granny Herald as '[trying to] evade police'. Evading implies breaking the law. Avoiding a police checkpoint is however a perfectly legitimate action.

The police could vastly improve their public image by paying five dollars on the spot to all drivers who pass their stupid sniffer test.  And ten dollars to everyone testing positive on their sniffer but negative on an evidential breath test—compensated for their time and inconvenience. It might at least maintain in them the police the realisation the people whose time they are wasting are their employers, not their subjects.

Currently, the gross intrusion of privacy and wasted time inherent in checkpoint stoppages are totally ignored by the police, as though their time is precious but ours is not. As if we don't have busy lives; as though our time has no value. Is it any wonder innocent motorists get angry and resentful at police officers? A little monetary compensation would go a long way toward mending bridges between law-abiding citizens and the police who are charged to protect them, not to harass them.

imageThe next news item I want to share with you is quite telling. The Green Party are up in arms because the government wants to make it easier for greedy capitalists to rape the countryside in order to 'exploit' minerals. To translate into common sense, that means  dig stuff out the ground so it can be used to improve the standard of living for human beings. 

Not happy with protecting all manner of living organisms (many of whom frankly are unable to adapt to current conditions and would not be missed if, like the Green Party themselves, they underwent the perfectly natural process of extinction), the Greens now want to protect minerals from human exploitation as well. Which exposes their real agenda: which is to suppress human advancement, to increase human suffering, to stifle progress that might lift millions out of poverty, until the right virus comes along

Let us avoid their checkpoints. Wowsers and misanthropes all.

No minerals were harmed in the writing of this op-ed.

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17 Comments:

Blogger Marc said...

I agree with your opinion on the stupid practice of "random" breathtesting. It is counterproductive, and does their public image immense harm. I was also almost a casualty of a checkpoint at 8:30am in Naenae a couple of years ago - the traffic jam they created nearly resulted in me being sideswiped by another driver trying to get out of a driveway. Earlier this year I drove extensively in the NI, and was stopped 3 times at checkpoints - in the main road through Masterton at 9:30am on a Sunday (annoyed everyone on the way to church!), in Kawakawa at 2:30pm, and amazingly, was stopped on SH1 in Ngaruawahia to remind me not to drive when I was TIRED. This last futile exercise banked up traffic for about 500m, and involved at least 15 police, St John, and traffic management personnel. What a waste of resources not to mention the time and fuel wasted for all those motorists. Who pays for that!
No problems however with testing motorists stopped for attracting their attention for justifiable reasons.

3/09/2012 10:14:00 am  
Blogger Richard McGrath said...

@Marc: You're right there, Marc, even a move back to the police having to justify pulling someone over, which is the way itused to be, would be an improvement.

3/09/2012 10:38:00 am  
Anonymous Ruth said...

Agree with your post Richard.

My two youngest children have been constantly harassed by police for merely being on the road -- and in old 'dunger' cars too.

My 17 year old daughter is always complaining about police doing U turns and stopping her for spurious "Just doing a licence check" nonsense. Maybe it's because she likes to wear a beanie.


As a result my kids hate the police.

3/09/2012 03:43:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

How is drink-driving enforcement done in your ideal world then? No prevention, only punishment after the fact?

DenMT

(I've been hit twice by drunk drivers so the issue is one that is fairly close to my heart.)

3/09/2012 09:40:00 pm  
Anonymous Hal Incandenza said...

"Even a move back to the police having to justify pulling someone over, which is the way itused to be, would be an improvement."

Yeah the good old days when the road toll was 800 a year! Bring on that sweet sweet freedom! Live free and die! Why do you advocate a policy of death?

3/10/2012 08:48:00 am  
Anonymous Gareth said...

This is all about our rights! Our individual rights to drink and drive.

To hell with the collective other motorists out there

3/10/2012 07:00:00 pm  
Blogger Richard McGrath said...

@Den MT: Libz have never claimed to be building a Utopia - just a better country than we have now.

Given the march of technology, there will be better ways available before long to determine whether someone is intoxicated behind the wheel than to randomly stop everyone in the hope of finding the less than 1% who are over the breath alcohol limit.

In any case, Libz have long advocated the private ownership of roads. The owners would have every right to stop all traffic and screen them for signs of intoxication. owners could also prevent anyone with a drink drive conviction from using their roads. Any problem with that?

3/10/2012 09:52:00 pm  
Blogger Richard McGrath said...

@Ruth: Exactly the same thing happened to my partner as happens to your daughter. Police doing a U-turn and pulling her over early one evening because she was driving a 21 year old car. Doesn't make them any friends.

3/10/2012 09:56:00 pm  
Blogger Richard McGrath said...

@Hal - once again, you evade and obfuscate. So the 800 a year road toll had nothing to do with the lack of decent brakes, front end crumple zone, decent seat belts, airbags, etc?

So any move away from a police state is a "policy of death".... OK. You would have loved East Germany.

3/10/2012 10:01:00 pm  
Blogger Richard McGrath said...

@Gareth, have you no imagination? Who in their right mind would want anarchy on the roads? Do you think I would want it for my children?

Tell me you're not really that naive.

To spell it out in simple terms, the road owner can make the rules about who drives on his roads. Libz just happen to believe that the government shouldn't be in the business of running road networks, and should devolve and eventually privatise the roads.

Privately owned/tolled/managed roads have a pretty good track record.

3/10/2012 10:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Judge Holden said...

"So any move away from a police state is a "policy of death".... OK. You would have loved East Germany."

Nope, but what you're arguing for here is.

"Libz have long advocated the private ownership of roads. The owners would have every right to stop all traffic and screen them for signs of intoxication. owners could also prevent anyone with a drink drive conviction from using their roads. Any problem with that?"

Why yes! It's simply shifting compulsion from the public to the private space where there's less accountability. Sounds horrific, but it's typical of the sneaky compulsion endemic in libbo policy prescriptions.

3/11/2012 09:24:00 am  
Anonymous David S. said...

The hatred of the Greens displayed by members of the Liberterianz is one of the most amusing aspects of the party.

"Which exposes their real agenda: which is to suppress human advancement, to increase human suffering, to stifle progress that might lift millions out of poverty"

Even if I didn't agree with their policies, the worst I could say is that they're misguided. It's possible that there are activists, possibly even green party members maintaining the agenda you describe. But to believe that the majority of people, the driving forces and philosophies behind the Greens are as misanthropic as you describe displays quite a high level of paranoia.

As for the issue of mineral ownership itself, how do you decide who owns the minerals under the earth? In fact how do you decide ownership period? You can't produce anything without raw materials. You can't purchase it unless it's owned by someone and unless you have something to barter with. A market cannot exist until ownership has been decided.

So how has ownership been decided? The fact is, property rights are based on force. Someone stuck a flag in the ground and said, "This is mine, try and take it from me", and more often than not someone did. Laissez faire capitalism just kind of sweeps this unfortunate truth under the rug, and is essentially just a return to the feudal age when the owners of capital had many choices and everyone else had very little. IMO it is not a libertarian system

I suppose you could argue that past acts of force would become irrelevant in the long term as the market is allowed to correct itself. Such an argument would require acceptance of Austrian economic theory though, and as such it would have to be classed as a practical argument rather than a principled one.

3/12/2012 03:17:00 am  
Blogger twr said...

Oops, forgot which pseudonym we were hiding behind did we??? Hahahaha.

3/12/2012 09:35:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@David: I realise not all Green Party members are as misanthropic as some of the extremist environmentalists, but the failure of the Greens to toss such idiots out raises some valid questions about the commitment to human rights of that Party.

You raise some good points about property rights. PC will be able to address this issue better than I can, but my understanding of the nature of property ownership is that the first human to encounter an area of land can lay claim to ownership to whatever amount he can demonstrably utilise. Not that there would be much unclaimed land available now, of course.

I would think that anyone owning land should be able to extract the minerals beneath the surface, provided he doesn't cause harm to others in the process.

Force is used in establishing and protecting property rights, but that is defensive force, used to protect the owner of that land from incursions or other rights violations.

You raise a good point about past squabbles over land ownership and I don't think there are easy answers to that. In some ways it's better to say that claims over land should be lodged by a certain date after which no further claims will be accepted; then settle the claims once and for all.

That's why Libz are happy for a lot of state-owned land to return to Maori ownership (preferably by individuals rather than tribes), so that SOMEONE owns it. When the state owns land, effectively no-one owns it and there arises the 'tragedy of the commons'.

3/12/2012 11:06:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, that last comment was from me, there wasn't a box provided to enter my name into on the web page.

Richard McGrath

3/12/2012 11:08:00 am  
Anonymous DenMT said...

Thanks for the long and considered reply Richard. I wasn't implying that the Libertarianz have plans for creating a utopia, I meant more what your ideal solution to the problem would be in 'a perfect world'.

I have to admit that I get a bit uncomfortable any time someone suggests solving a present-day problem with future technology. So while I can buy that in the future we might have some sort of sophisticated system for disabling cars before drunk drivers drive them, in present-day NZ we have to use the tools we have to achieve the outcome we want.

I'm also not 100% convinced on the private-roads solution - you maintain that 'random stoppages at roadblocks should not happen in a free country,' then go on to point out that private roadowners would 'have the right to stop all road traffic'. I can't really see this is a better solution - either (to take extremes as a thought experiment) I, as a rich eccentric, buy up half of the access roads to Wellington and A) create my competitive edge by ultimate safety, stopping every car coming in or out and testing them, thus providing a 100% alcohol-free environment for safety-conscious motorists, or B) cut overheads totally by having no checks for drunk drivers, trusting to the sound judgement of all motorists and undercutting my competition by providing much cheaper road use. Unless there is a prerogative for me to provide safety checks (my road customers flocking to the competition due to rampant drink-driving deaths?) why will I subject my paying customers to the inconvenience of spot checks?

DenMT

3/12/2012 10:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raise the gaze a little, serfs.

In a non-communist state, freedom of choice allows me to decide which roads I wish to use. If the owner of one set of roads is a PITA and stops me all the time, I will use something else. If the owner of the road fails to keep me safe from his other road users, I will seek redress.

The free market - a real one - will find innovative solutions not bound by the tyranny and immorality of the commons.

3/13/2012 01:18:00 pm  

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