1. Mike Hashimoto, assistant editorial page editor at the Dallas Morning News:
I get as mad as the next person at the minivan driver cruising along 5 mph below the speed limit in the left lane, basically causing everyone else with someplace to be to dodge around him/her in a slightly dangerous way. That doesn’t mean we need another annoying law in the long-running series of laws intended to remove all risk from our daily lives. . . . A cell phone ban might make us feel better, but at best, it would have the same practical effect as banning Big Macs while driving, shaving while driving, reading a map while driving or reaching into the back seat for your kid while driving. . . .
a. Would you favor government rules forbidding cell phone use while driving? Explain.
b. What about text messaging, grooming, eating, and so on? Explain.
2. Technology companies are rapidly bringing powerful information technology to car dashboards. Government regulators argue that those products are slowing their efforts to reduce hazards from distracted driving. According to National Transportation Safety Board chair, Deborah Hersman:
If the technology producers focused more on what is safe than what sells, we’d see highway fatalities go down.
Do you agree that technology companies are irresponsibly putting profit before safety in developing ever more advanced, and doubtless distracting, technology in cars? Explain.
3. Distinguished economist Herbert Stein, perhaps best known as father of celebrity Ben Stein, said that we are desperate for cell phone conversations to ward off our loneliness:
It is the way of keeping contact with someone, anyone who will reassure you that you are not alone. You may think you are checking on your portfolio but deep down you are checking on your own existence.
a. Are you dependent on your cell phone?
b. If so, should the government discourage that use by, for example, imposing higher taxes on cell phone purchases? Explain.