Risk saves lives


Just another in my ongoing rants about something I feel strongly about.  We need to accept a lot more risk in our lives so we can stop spending gazillions foolishly, and start allocating the spending to things that will actually do a lot of good and save a lot of lives here and elsewhere:

 Re: Lead in toys imported from China:

The whole anti china toy thing seems to me to be largely an overreaction and/or  an anti-China political scam.   Our standards are far, far too high here in the USA.    I’d like to see how you can make a case that standards that add billions in costs and save at most a handful of people are appropriate when we could reallocate that risk in such a way that the costs would save thousands of *the very same* people,let alone *millions* in developing world.    Did anybody bother to compare the (trivial) lead and toxics risks from those China toys with risks from wearing street shoes in the home (also probably trivial but not a costly approach to the problem.  And then compare those with the risks most families take by not containing the almost ubiquitous leaded paint on old American homes and by using leaded fuels?   THAT’s a lead risk folks, and it’s big enough to worry about.    Am I saying we should allow leaded toys in from China?   No, but we should not worry so much about these small risks and we should reduce the regulations such that the risks match up logically.    Mad Cow disease posed almost *zero* health risks given the existing inspection regimens, yet many called for *higher* standars to fight that almost immeasurably small risk of human problems from mad cow.  (Pop quiz – how many US people have died from the human complications that come from mad cow disease?)  Answer:  1 or less.   In fact there were only 3 cases of this in US cows! 

Would I vote to put myself and others at slightly greater risk – trivial greater risk – so hundreds of others could collectively live thousands more years?   Of course, it is a moral imperative to work for this.  

Silly people say it’s not a tradeoff.   They suggest we always need to fight for the highest safety standard, and the costs be damned.    That appeals to emotion but is downright stupid in terms of economics.  You *must* allocate resources because they are limited.   You can let whimsy guide you, or emotion, or evil, or logic, but you cannot escape the allocation of resources.   All I’m saying is, to rework and paraphrase John Lennon:

“Let’s give Peace REASON and ROI calculations a chance” 

 We desparately need to better match risk and cost, but political spending and emotion forces us to, for example, recall perfectly good beef and spinach when statistics suggest these were of sufficient quality.    The spinach thing probably led to a few more deaths from lowering dietary standards by stopping eating spinach than the 1? death from the bad spinach.

143 Million Pounds of Beef Recalled…from your stomach.


Could somebody help me understand why the latest beef recall isn’t stupid?   This is terrifying millions of parents despite the fact that there is almost certainly close to zero health risk here according to the FDA.  Oh, also there is the challenge of the fact that most of this beef has already been eaten by you and me.  Excuse me while I barf it up for the FDA?

The FDA notes:
We do not feel this product presents a health risk of any significance

Oh, that clears things up for me.  Rules require the recall of perfectly safe beef- enough to  feed the entire country for days and valued at close to 100 million dollars -because..ummm ….huh?

This is yet another case of absurd bureacracy driven by absurd irrational concerns of absurd people.   Mad Cow?   Still *zero* deaths.   Stop worrying about this crap!   There are millions dying all over the place from *real* hazards like malaria, malnutrition, no seat belts, gun proliferation, and wars.  Those are legitimate concerns.  Bad beef is not. 

Caveat:  The company that this came from appears to be in violation of many rules.  Close them down if that’s wise – I don’t have enough detail to know.   But the recall appears to be rule based spitefulness rather than reason.   My tax dollars, squandered again, costing more people their beef and more future cows their precious cow lives. 

You know, if they recall any french fries I’m moving to Canada.