About Me

When not at work with students, I spend my time in my room either reading, calculating something using pen and paper, or using a computer. I read almost anything: from the pornographic to the profound, although my main interests are mathematics and physics. "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." -Erasmus

Monday, December 27, 2010

firecracker bans and prostitution

(First, credit where it is due: I owe the ideas to Steven Landsburg, and the book I read was The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics and Physics. I do not necessarily endorse all of his views, but the questions -- if not the answers-- should provide a decent amount of distraction. )

Every New Year's Eve, the streets of my country become a war-zone. The tradition is to use firecrackers ranging from sparklers to rockets and simple explosives called pla-pla, superlolo, etc. Every year it seems, we have kids on tv saying "Hinding-hindi na ako magpapaputok." ("I will never use firecrackers again."), while displaying a mangled hand or foot or worse.

I don't have any sympathy, by the way, for those kids. Even though it's politically incorrect, I cannot help but feel some amount of Schadenfreude. In fact, I would rather that they had blown-up their gonads so that they won't propagate their stupidity to the next generation. (This actually happened to an idiot playing with explosives; he is the only living recipient of the Darwin awards. ) I ride a bicycle, and such explosives are a hazard. There is a ban on the use of firecrackers that pose danger to life-and-limb, and these idiots still persist in going against the law.

That said, one of the futile ways of discouraging the use of firecrackers is to ban the sale. This is akin to what happens when prostitution is banned, because bans have never worked. One need only look at Prohibition in the United States to see that. What will develop, instead, is a healthy blackmarket.

My modest proposal, therefore, is to have the sale legalized and the use penalized. I think it would do better at reducing firecracker use. I'd even recommend inhumane punishments like sticking lighted pla-pla on the gonads of the offender and then letting it go off. That way, the clever can earn money at the expense of the stupid, the stupid pay twice, and maybe, reduce the propagation of stupidity unto future generations. :-)

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