Sunday, November 19, 2006

Take Care

After last week's mass student newspaper links, I thought I'd best get round to linking to another, kindly supplied by my friend Nick L, via this blog.

The story concerns the fact that abolishing traffic lights actually decreases road accidents because - although the road is inherently more dangerous - drivers now take better care. Here's the original story from The Telegraph on 4/11/06.

What I found particularly interesting, however, was their comment - published on the same day - under the head 'Labour will never treat us like adults'. Here they say "A deeper lesson is one that was obvious to everyone until the 20th century: that, given responsibility for their actions, people tend to make better decisions – on behalf of themselves and society."

This is something I'd like to build on, briefly, in my thesis. Some people worry that if we let a random voter decide social outcomes, they may be a crackpot. I think if voters knew there was a real chance that their vote might determine the outcome, they'd be more responsible in casting it. At present, they have little reason to consider it too carefully, since there's little chance of making a difference anyway.

Schumpeter also says something similar, about how our feelings of reality and responsibility are diminished in public affairs (Quinton, p.164).

This also connects to something I remember from a Political Sociology lecture, in which someone argued most of the French far right votes were actually anti-system protest votes rather than positive support for Le Pen and the right. But I'll have to look up who said this.

Going back to newspapers, unfortunately I only found the story a couple of days late and wasn't able to track down a hard copy of the Telegraph, despite looking through the old papers in the GCR and JCR. I've just found that one can order papers up to 9 months old from W H Smiths - though prices start from £4.99, which is a bit steep.

Anyone know if the Bod stocks recent papers? I think they do, but don't really know where...

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At 2:57 pm, Blogger Nick said...

Related to your comment about people voting for LePenn, I remember reading last year that a BNP councillor ended up resigning shortly after being elected, as he realised that it was a position far above his capacities and he simply couldn't hack it. Maybe he was still a fascist, but at least he learnt a lesson in civic responsibility.


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