Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Abdicating Responsibility

One of the byproducts of a safety net is that some people seek a free ride. There are those that truly need the safety net because of mistakes and those that purposefully use the safety net for their advantage. The latter type of person is a freeloader who is a drain on the entire system.

Last week I was in Nantucket reading the local paper and there was a picture of this kiteboarder who had gone out into the harbor in extreme weather. You have to wonder if he would have gone out into this extreme weather if there wasn't a Coast Guard available to back him up.

I have no idea if this guy consciously knew he was abdicating responsibility for his safety. What I do know, is that 7 years ago I had to plan a rescue mission for the same guy when he had gone out into a gale and gotten washed out to sea. At the time, I was in charge of Coast Guard resources from New Jersey to Maine. I had to order two boats and two helicopters to look for him which was risky, not to mention expensive. The cost of this freeloader got absorbed into the overall cost of the safety net.

1 comment:

DR said...

I assume you would be in favor of charging someone after the fact if it is deemed that their freeloading was the result of some level of recklessness, as opposed to "what an idiot, he's on his own"? I think the former is now being used in some instances by the forest service who are charging responsible (or in this case irresponsible) parties for the results of some forest fires. I'm all for it, as long as there is a level of recklessness involved. Accidents do happen to careful people.