Personal experience is a bad reason to make laws and remove liberty


Back in November 2013, I wrote a blog post about the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash, and the result.

Flight 3407 crashed on February 12, 2009 in New York state, killing all people on board the plane and one in a house, bringing the total deaths to 50. This crash was caused by stall which was incorrectly handled pilots. But, if you read about the incident, you will find a story of exhausted pilots buried under all of the suggestions of inexperience.

What does this have to do with a pilot shortage?

When something horrible happens and people die, we want their deaths to have meaning.

Airplane crashes are horrible things, and in this case, the effort to attribute meaning to the deaths meant that the victim’s families (and others) pressured Congress to do something so that such an accident would never happen again. Because some of the investigation suggested crew fatigue and pilot error, the result was that Congress put into place laws requiring pilots hired by airlines to have a higher number of flight hours before they could be hired.

Problem: Both of the pilots on Flight 3407 had more than the flight hour experience Congress now required of commercial pilots. This new law wouldn’t have solved the problem for Flight 3407, but it has created a pilot shortage.

Problem: By requiring more flight hours, Congress effectively made it very difficult to find pilots to fly commercially, and this is being felt by regional airlines because they are unable to find enough qualified pilots to fill the slots of their senior pilots who are moving on to the major airlines (where pay and prospects are better). Flight 3407 was a regional airline. Again, the new law would not help that situation. It has likely made the situation worse.

The new law complicates already cumbersome rules for pilots trying to earn the certificates needed to fly for an airline. Some regional airlines (Great Lakes Airlines) are even removing seats from their aircraft to qualify under a different set of rules so they could avoid this hassle and solve the problem of finding pilots to fly routes.

I'm not saying they should, but if Congress really wanted to pass a law that would have helped in the Colgan Air Flight accident, it would have looked something like this:

Airlines must base their pilots in the city they live, and pay them enough to live there so that they do not have to commute cross-country to start their duty rounds and be sleep-deprived and exhausted.

Airlines must pay their pilots enough that they don’t have to work additional jobs (exhaustion factor) and live in crashpads, just to get by.

Congress would have done well to watch Frontline’s Flying Cheap documentary, inspired by the incident. And they would have also been wise to consider that the victim’s families were grieving, and that perhaps they weren’t the best ones to ask what should be done.

I want to say that every time something bad happens, it doesn’t mean there was a law that should have been in place to prevent it from happening. Bad things happen, regardless of laws. Accidents and evil don’t follow laws. You can’t outlaw human error. Some laws that have come out of tragedy have been good (e.g. Amber Alerts), but in an age of Twitter and TV, lawmakers seem to be more motivated to make people feel good in a soundbite than they are with creating good laws.

Imagine if a lawmaker had said to those grieving families “I’m sorry for your loss, but this law wouldn’t have saved your loved one.”

It’s much easier to pass a law that makes victims feel like their tragedy had a purpose, even if it is a bad law, but the job of Congress isn’t to be that of counselor. Emotions make for terrible laws. Emotional decisions make for terrible government bloat (Department of Homeland Security, anyone?).

Sometimes, death is without discernible meaning. Sometimes, there is no recourse to circumvent mourning than to hit it head on and slog through, rather than get a sense of justification for meaningless death through laws. I told my friend once that if  "something terrible were to happen to me, don’t you dare try to memorialize me with some stupid law."

I mean that.

I don’t want my legacy to have been red tape and reduced liberty for others.

Thanks to the pandemic, we are no longer in a pilot shortage because so many have been furloughed. But for many years, we had a significant pilot shortage and the laws put in place after this tragedy exacerbated it.

This leads me to a recent article in which the author, Rob Port, attributed the mask mandate for saving his life because he believes the mask mandate is what opened up more hospital rooms. 

While I'm very glad Port is now OK, I take issue with his conclusion, particularly for someone who I thought was more libertarian-minded than even me (though seems to have begun writing posts calling for the resignation of LE officers who won't enforce mandates, suggests people not complying are just obstinate, and that if only North Dakotans would take the virus seriously things would change). I'd say the card-carrying libertarian needs to throw the card.

As previously stated, to the south of us is South Dakota, a state without a mask mandate, with a very similar curve as North Dakota. Based on that data, and the data that shows mask mandates don't really have a predictable correlation to anything, I would suggest that Port's conclusion is wrong. Instead, I'd say that with or without the mandate, which seems to have been put in at the peak of a curve, the hospital would have been about the same experience for him in December since we were headed over the curve, like mask-mandate-free South Dakota.

By his own admission, the author notes a couple of things:

  • He had his family were apparently mask wearers
  • He still caught the virus
  • When he was diagnosed he did his telehealth visit and did what he was told by the doctors
  • He got sicker afterwards and ended up at the hospital struggling to breath

Port gives props to the very systems that did nothing for him until at death's door. By taking the recommended precautions of barriers, isolation, and sanitizers, he still got sick. By following the advice of his medical consultation, he still found himself near death. (He would probably have been better to consult a doctor on this website, frankly.)

A mask wearer, who still got very sick, attributing mask wearing to saving his life. 

That's the ultimate twisting conclusion we have here. He's lucky they didn't put him on a ventilator; if he'd done any reading, he'd find out those are doing a great job killing people by forcing oxygen violently into lungs that can't absorb it. If he talked to people off the record who worked for Sanford or other hospitals, as I have, he might have had an eye opening understanding of the dynamics of a for-profit hospital regarding bed availability in a pandemic in which certain effective treatments were ignored or politicized (HCQ, Ivermectin, etc).

For a year, I and othe many, many others like me who do not wear masks and who do not buy into all of the panic and fear, have been mocked, harassed, and hated online and even in person when we go to the stores. We have doctors and nurses from Sanford speaking out against us at public meetings, and saying nasty things in online comments. We are the whipping boy, the one to blame for everything, and Port is playing into that a bit with the articles he writes and the suggestion that those who do not align with his opinion are part of the problem.

If people like me are so stupid, are so unable to grasp science, are so obstinate and medically befuddled, why is it that I bought a pulse oximeter for myself and my parents in April and May? Why is it that I got me and mine on or aware of a need for increased vitamin D, zinc, aspirin for blood thinning, and other things shown to make a positive difference? 

It's because I, like many others, researched. Despite being told we're stupid and that we're just laymen who can't understand (that was a Sanford doctor who said that during a city commission meeting), people like me aggressively researched and took responsibility—yes, responsibility—for our own lives by learning all we could.

I read studies. I read articles written by doctors who were treating patients with success who were learning as they went, the same doctors social media has been blocking and "fact-checking." I didn't get any of this information from the state or CDC or any "proper" source. No one from Sanford told me to do it. I wasn't a good little girl who did what she was told and STILL FOUND HERSELF AT DEATHS DOOR like Port did, by his own admission.

It's the Colgan Air problem.

It's as if all critical thinking stops when a person has a scary personal experience. 

From then on, their personal experience is what they use to define all things related from then on. 

It's as if when you have one scary experience, or someone close to you does, your ability to think outside of the personal experience is lost. You can no longer look at data or think, but from then on believe your experience is the defining thing for everyone else. 

"This happened to me and mine, so this is what we must do for everyone" said no person who believes in liberty ever.

So, it seems that since he believes the mask mandate cleared out the hospital so he could get better care and live (I guess he must think he'd have gotten worse care earlier when it was full?), he will advocate for that. No data or anything to justify that conclusion, just his opinion, which mean,s as an opinion writer, he'll use his platform to add to the already ridiculous amount of people piling on free-thinking citizens in the name of "safety."

I don't know Port personally, but I have nothing against him. Years ago, I'd started my blog and he started his after me (yes, Lone Prairie has been around longer than Say Anything), we were both interviewed by a guy named Patrick at the Fargo Forum because blogging was a new thing and we were the most notable blogs here in North Dakota (obviously it was very early on in blogging). Then, after the movie "Jesus Camp" came out, he had me chime in on the brouhaha since I had some applicable things to contribute. I also reference some of his writing in my book on the pipeline protest because he did a good job finding information and pointing out some conflicting realities.

But this article on his personal experience being the justification for unlawful mandates and the inferred labeling of people not supporting them as a problem is beneath him, as is the suggested call to get people to pile on people, like myself, who do not function out of "obstinance" but out of a love for liberty. I'm glad he is OK now, but I'm really disappointed and not at all impressed by his conclusions. I expected more from him.

Perhaps, when you're at death's door and you confront the reality of your death, the understanding you have of eternity plays a role into how you respond afterwards. I've no doubt much activism stems from this, the moment a person is faced with the reality of death and eternity. 

I understand the reality and seriousness of the virus for some people more than I've been given credit for. Not wearing a mask and choosing to live life in a way the CDC or the state doesn't approve doesn't mean I think it's a joke or I'm selfish. I haven't written about some experiences and things on this blog related to the pandemic this past year because I choose not to. These experiences haven't changed my stance on personal health liberty, because I understand liberty means accepting risk.

If a scary personal experience is enough to shake you from loving liberty to "keep us safe" thinking, you were never truly interested in liberty.

We HAVE to stop allow emotional experiences be the driver behind laws and mandates. The bad things that happen to a few should not necessarily be used to apply "solutions" to those without the problem. The law of the land is the Consititution, not individual personal experience. We have far too much red tape and bad law in place simply because something bad happened to someone and the emotional response (and sometimes, a family with lots of money) forces weak-willed politicians to do something to placate the cry of the mob.