May 15Liked by Open Source Defense

> Why are automakers allowed to sell cars that go over 120 mph? The highest speed limit anywhere in the US is 85 mph.

I have a few answers to this question

The first is, at least to me, so obvious that it's present even in the question being asked. Before pointing out the obvious, let me ask an intuition-pump question:

"Why is OP proposing a limit of 120 mph when, by his own claims, the highest speed limit is 85?"

The answer is obvious: because he wants to go faster than 85. If you're asking the question "why are cars allowed to be designed to go faster than the fastest legal speed", that makes sense. That's a natural Schelling point; it might not be a good one, but it's one that _makes sense_. But as soon as you're proposing a limit somewhat higher than that, you're implicitly acknowledging that the _legal_ limit is arbitrary and doesn't matter, and once you acknowledge _that_, you have no moral justification for the even-more-arbitrary limit that you proposed.

(And it is worth noting that an even more reasonable Schelling point is 55-60mph, because most (gasoline) vehicles are the most fuel-efficient at that speed, and so that is the environmentalist-justified speed limit.)

(And as long as we're limiting speeds, fatalities dramatically fall for speeds lower than ~40, so why not regulate the speed at 40? You don't want people to _die_, do you?)

Why aren't auto makers regulated in this manner? Because everybody wants to speed. It's that simple.

For a runner-up explanation: it doesn't matter what the law says, there are practical limits on what the government is capable of doing. If the government mandated 100mph governors on all cars, you know what would immediately happen next? The same sketchy mechanic shops that you can bribe to pass an emissions test would just provide governor removal services under the table, and everyone who wanted to go fast would be able to go just as fast as before. Like most poorly-thought-out regulations, it would do exactly zero to prevent any of the problematic/criminal users that are the cause of the problem being regulated, and would only impede reasonable law-abiding people who were never going to be a problem in the first place.

You might say "but they'll never get away with it. Once they speed, it will be obvious that they've tampered with the governor, and they'll get in trouble". But speeding is already illegal, and already very obviously so, and people already get away with it _all the time_.

And then, there's the third explanation, which is something of a fully general explanation for a lot of social phenomena in the US: anarcho-tyranny and an unwillingness to police quality of life when it is politically bad optics. Many of the people driving most dangerously on the road are the same ne'er-do-wells that flaunt a bunch of other laws. Unfortunately, some of those ne'er-do-wells happen to belong to protected groups. (I hope it's clear that I am not saying that all members of those groups are bad people, but rather that those groups contain a few bad apples, like all groups do). Even if you had the political _and_ practical ability to govern the speed of cars like that, you wouldn't stop eg. illegal street racing, because nobody has the political will to arrest and jail a bunch of politically-favoured people engaging in that. So, the actual enforcement would be incredibly capricious and inconsistent, and wouldn't actually meaningfully reduce the behaviours that motivate people to propose such laws in the first place

Finally, there's my super cynical fourth answer: a lot of cities in the US, especially smaller towns in more rural areas, get a significant fraction (up to ~25%, iirc) of their operating budget from traffic fines. If you made it _impossible_ to speed, then how would cities make money off of speeding tickets?


As a tangent discussion prompt: it is interesting to ask this kind of question about a lot of things that are illegal, because the answer is pretty much always the same: "People want to break the law, but for whatever reason don't want to make the thing legal". I have mixed feelings on the reasonability of such positions, contrasting my autistic "if everyone does it, just make it legal; anarcho-tyranny is bullshit" with my practical "there is value in having wiggle room in the enforcement of very strict laws; laws are hard to change, even when they should change, and this is a check against that". But I can't help but think about red light cameras.

Running a red light is _always_ illegal, and for very good reasons. Yet, Abbott banned red light cameras in Texas like 5 years ago, and everybody cheered. Why? Because everyone runs a red from time to time, and they don't want to get fined when they do it!

There's so many other forms of this question we could ask:

"Why do cars allow you to start them when your seatbelt isn't hooked in, given that seatbelts are mandatory?".

"Why bother with emissions testing when you could mandate the onboard computer, which _already_ computes these things, refuses to start if the stats are too bad?".

"Why don't you make cars validate your driver's license against a DMV computer before they can start?".

"Why don't you require all cars to have a ignition interlock system to make sure you're not drunk when you drive?"

(I recall reading something a while back about how that last one has actually been voted on and will come into effect in like 5 years, although I assumed I misunderstood or it will otherwise not actually happen)

It's really interesting to compare and contrast which of these suggestions seem like common-sense ideas that everyone would support, and which of these suggestions seem like obviously bad ideas that nobody would support. The pattern is almost always the same: whenever somebody wants to reserve their personal ability to break that law, they think the suggestion is obviously ridiculous. But whenever it's something that "only other people do", suddenly it's an obvious common-sense measure.

The parallels to gun regulations are obvious. "Who needs 30 rounds, legally restrict them to 10" is seen as reasonable and common-sense precisely because all the people who are saying it are people who don't shoot guns and so don't see the need for more than 10 rounds. Meanwhile, "oh no you can't ban shotguns / hunting rifles / lever/bolt-action rifles" because enough otherwise anti-gun people have memories of their grandpa using shotguns for legitimate rural purposes in their childhood.

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May 15·edited May 15Liked by Open Source Defense

"they can be full auto, suppressed, and ship straight to your door."

The market needs the following air gun:

Similar in operation to a paintball gun.

Fires normal 115gr. 9mm bullets from a 30-round magazine (they just stack on top of each other).

Enough gas capacity to fire several magazines.

Muzzle velocity of 1000 fps.

"Moderator" in barrel.

Select-fire, 600-900 rpm.

This is the completely unregulated equivalent of an MP5-SD.

Also like modern paintball guns, this can be accomplished electronically right down to pressure, muzzle velocity, and cyclic rate.

No NFA, no "Hughes tax", low maintenance, cheaper ammo, roughly equivalent performance.

Until Hughes and the NFA are abolished, shut up and take my money.

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