Should car dealers sell cars or price them based on a driver's history of drinking and driving?
That's an interesting question. There is little room for should in the marketplace, of course, because should implies a commonly held belief or ethos, and the market exists precisely because people with differing subjective values see gains from swapping things. Yet I wonder if such a car dealer would be rewarded enough by non-drunk customers to make up for the loss of business from drunks. The latter, of course, would appear to go through more cars on average than your typical teetotaler.
Your question, by the way, reminds me of something I've long thought would be a good idea: a law (at the local level -- I may not be a good libertarian, but I am a federalist) that limits the weight of the vehicle one is allowed to drive based on one's age, IQ, and driving record. There is nothing more chilling to a driver than to spy in one's rear view mirror a mouth-breathing teenage boy attempting to control his two-ton suburban on oversized wheels. Under my rules, if he's as stupid as he looks, he's limited to a Daihatsu. One traffic ticket and he's busted down to a Schwinn.
On a related note, I recently had a conversation with a woman whose son is just now able to drive unsupervised. She's not sure what she'll get him to drive, but she assured me that it will be "really big, so he'll be safe." Her worry, you see, is that being young and impetuous, junior may have an accident. So she wants to wrap him in a ton of steel before unleashing him on the same streets my wife and children traverse. I called her an ignorant twit, and said I'd rather she bury her idiot child's remains in a bucket than increase the risk to my family because she hasn't raised him to be a safe driver.
Actually I just nodded and went "hmm," but I think she got my point.
The NY Times reports that private colleges are raising tuitions because of "dwindling endowments" caused by a "sagging economy." But check out this sentence in the article:
"The sometimes striking tuition increases, just now being reported, come after seven years of moderate tuition increases at generally twice the rate of inflation."
In other words, while colleges saw their endowments jump double-digits on the back of a surging stock market, they continued to raise tuition at the "moderate" clip of twice the inflation rate. Now that their endowments are back to levels of three to four years ago, they are using that as an excuse to raise tuition even higher. One wonders just what else Harvard, for example, with an $18.3 billion dollar endowment, undergraduate tuition in excess of $22,000/year, over $14 million in additional yearly tuition aid from outside sources, and millions from state, federal, and corporate sources, needs so desperately that it must yet again hike tuition.
This is all especially interesting given an economic study by the National Bureau of Economic Research which calls into question the value of elite private college education. The authors compared the incomes of graduates from elite colleges with those of students who were accepted by an elite college but chose to attend a "lesser" school. The graduates of the latter schools actually have higher incomes, on average, than graduates of elite schools. One reason graduates of elite colleges do so much better than other college students, it turns out, is not the superiority of their schools, but the simple fact that elite colleges choose the cream of the crop to begin with -- students with the drive, background, contacts, and high school preparation that would serve them well in the job market regardless of their alma mater.
This raises a further question -- how much of future success is driven not by college education, but by grade and high school education? The graduates of elite colleges, after all, are much more likely to have attended private schools managed by people other than the slovenly, slack-jawed bureaucrats who increasingly man the government schools. Think about it. Most good parents sock away what they can in hopes of paying for at least part of their child's college education. Yet most of these same people leave their child captive to people who think that four years of "education" classes yields the knowledge necessary to train children, when in reality it leaves them ill-qualified for anything other than janitorial work. So perhaps parents will do their children more good in the long run by spending money on their education now, in the form of a good private school.
Congress could help a lot in that regard by creating a tax deduction for education expenses. Local governments could also help, by giving private- and home-school parents a full refund of the portion of their property taxes used to fund government schools. The odds of both are virtually zero, of course, so long as we allow the thuggish teacher's unions to dictate education policy, and repeatedly extort more money from us under the threat of not teaching our children.
Reuters reports that the Transportation Security Administration has ordered elimination of the "VIP lines" that allow frequent travelers to move through check-in and security more quickly. Don't waste time trying to figure out how this will make anyone safer, because safety, according to the TSA, is not the goal of this new regulation. The goal, rather, is to ensure that airport security is more "equitable."
In other words, TSA policy is apparently being written by union thugs and diversity counselors. These are the same people, by the way, who insist that it is only fair that a 70-year Jewish woman have the same likelihood of being searched by airport security as a 25-year old man named "Ahmed." Rich Lowry eviscerates Transportation Secretary and multicultural mullah Norman Mineta for this kind of nonsense in an excellent National Review Online piece.
I know the retort: equal rights and fairness good, discrimination bad. This is entirely wrongheaded. To the extent that people pose differential threats that are correlated with physical behaviors or other observable characteristics, discrimination is a valuable tool. To quote a former Supreme Court Justice, "the Constitution isn't a suicide pact." The ethos that regards equity of outcomes as more important than equity of opportunity, however, may well be just such a thing. We are certainly testing that hypothesis, when we allow the fairness and sensitivity police to determine our security policies.