2006-06-18

are you seriously claiming

that some overpaid idiot riding without a helmet actually deserves this serious an ethical treatment? Jessica: you study justice and democratic theory. thoughts on this nonsense?

When [NFL football player] Roethlisberger decided to ride without a helmet, what were his obligations to the larger society, in this case greater Steelerdom? And what mechanisms should there be for society — or Steelerdom — to impose those obligations?

In a democratic society, everybody benefits from other people's risk-taking. But must everyone pay for it as well? The question goes back to the founding of the country and continues to shape who Americans are as a society.

"America more than European countries prizes entrepreneurial spirit and the freedom of individuals to run risks, even if they might not turn out well," said Cass R. Sunstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago. "One reason the economy does so well is that people take gambles. And sometimes they work out badly."

3 comments:

GradRacket said...

heres my take-
as a society, we have an obligation to provide emergancy care to everyone, even the idiots. if we dint take care of the dumbasses who ride without helmets, then we coudl argue that poor people who are poor because they were too uneducated to get jobs or because they lacked the mental capacities, dont deserve such care either. And so here is where the real tension between individualism and the collective good most clearly emerges. I'm not sure that "steelerdom" counts as the common good, but taxpayers paying for him to get his face sewn back on does, and in this sense, we should subsidize stupidity. In this way, i think it's actually more of a european argument, european cultures are far more willing to encourage risk taking and creativity, because they provide the preconditions to achieve that. and so here i depart with sunstein, who i think is a pretty damn cut rate legal theorists if you ask me, because in order to spark the "american" individualism he's talking about, you need the european socialism as well, the football player (and any other risk taker) needs to be able to know that when he takse a risk (good or bad) he will still have a job, a pubic health system to make up for his mistkes and all the other preconditions.
in other news, i dont care for your template.

Josh said...

Jessica, I don't know you but with all due respect, I think you're entirely missing the point. The article is not about who is paying--literally, economically--for his medical treatment. He has insurance, so taxpayers are not footing the bill for his stitches and X-rays.

I think it's more about some people, such as a superstar quarterback, having a responsibility greater than to themselves to protect themselves. It's like parents managing their own risky behavior so their children won't grow up orphans, only taken to a (almost foolishly) higher level. Do people with great responbilities have an obligation to keep themselves safe that supersedes their own freedom of choice?

Also the existence of this article as some sort of attempt at deep philosophy regarding an injured professional athlete is pretty. . . laughable.

mjm said...

I think Jessica responded to my excerpt rather than the whole article. I too “depart with” Sunstein, and tend to think that a health/welfare safety net can encourage risk. But Josh is right, that's not the point. 1) wtf is steelerdom. 2) some nfl player crashes his motorcycle and you think, “hm, I should call a [overrated blowhard of a] legal theorist” ?!

In our bizarre employer-financed health care system, the burden is now on this guy's employers. In this sense, it shifts the question of the insured's obligation away from society. In a proper single-payer system, the government would have to make that call. One can easily imagine two types of outcomes, underburdeing and overburdening the individual: like many states now, we'd probably continue not to require motorcyclists to wear helments. But we might overburden fat people and smokers – and, given our political climate in which single-payer health care has no hope anyway, unmarried sexually active people, especially women.

So, returning to our motorcyclist: they do inflict costs on society. How can they compensate? My proposal would be, regardless of who’s paying for the majority of their medical expenses or whether they wear a helmet, that possession of a motorcycle license should constitute consent to donate one’s organs.