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The death of pragmatism and self-determination

30 August 2019

I remember a time when men were men.

No, today's column isn't all LBGT, it's about freedom from the tyrany of bureaucrats, busy-bodies and those who have been given legal authority to take away your once inalienable right to self-determination.

Two stories in the media inspired today's column and they're both about governments trying to prove that they know what's best for you and effectively saying that you must subjugate your own free will to their diktats -- all in the name of safety of course.

Let me say right from the get-go that there are some people out there who do need more than a little "oversight", if they're not to kill themselves or others pretty quickly, as a result of their stupidity and lack of commonsense. However, the vast majority of us still have the necessary survival insticts required to keep our heads above dirt for a good long time.

Most of us also take our responsibility to ensure the safety of others by taking care not to be reckless or dangerous when engaged in activties that could inflict risk on third parties.

Laws designed to protect the public safety should therefore, require a fairly strong burden of proof that public safety was placed in jeopardy before they are applied to any individual or group by way of a prosecution.

So let's look at the two stories I found that got me annoyed today.

Firstly, there was the guy who built his own "tiny house".

According to this story on Stuff, Jono Voss is having to go to court in an attempt to have his trailer classified as a permanent dwelling and thus sidestep the local council's attempts to ping him for not having a compliance certificate as applicable to permanent structures.

If you think his claims have no merit and that he has built a house where the wheels are simply an attempt to dodge the law, be aware that if he lived in the Marlborough District, their Council would be happy to accept that it is a vehicle and not a building. Sadly, Mr Voss lives in Taita which falls under the jurisdiction of the Hutt Council and they have the opposite point of view.

Hang on, both council's can't be right... can they?

And, so long as his (or anyone's) dwelling isn't posing a health/safety issues to persons outside the boundary and so long as nobody has complained, why are authorities even involved in this situation?

It is my belief that people ought to be allowed to build whatever structures, buildings, dwellings they want on their own land, so long as they don't create a threat to the safety, health or enjoyment of others outside the boundaries of that property. Of course one caveat of this is that those properties which haven't been inspected and found to comply with the standards of the day will need to also have a large sign on the gate that says "Enter at your own risk, structures may be unsafe". Such properties would also need to be treated like a swimming pool and be adequately fenced to avoid young children inadvertently straying onto them.

This gives the property owner freedom to do what they want and preserves public safety by adequately warning anyone who might wish to venture onto that property that it may not be safe to do so.

Of course if someone chose to build a 200ft high structure out of old bean cans right beside the boundary of a neighbour, that neighbour would have a right to complain on the basis that their safety or enjoyment was being affected. At that time the bureaucrats with their clipboards and white nylon shirts could get involved.

The second story that caught my eye was even more interesting (thanks to the Australian reader who emailed me a link).

Across the ditch, at least one Aussie is in hot water with CASA (the Australian equivalent of the CAA).

What was his crime?

Well he went fishing with a drone.

What the? Surely people do this all the time (at least in New Zealand).

This fishing expedition was, however, a little different.

This time the fisherman was suspended below a rather larged drone -- and that's got some busy-bodies' noses out of joint.

To quote from the story:

"Aviassist, a drone training, licensing and auditing company, said the footage was risky due to the lack of quality control over the homemade drone"

I call bullshirt!

The footage was risky due to the lack of quality control?

How the hell would Aviassist know what sort of quality control had been used in the design and building of this craft? They don't... they're plucking stuff out of their arses!

This drone appears to have been built to a very high standard and, based on the video, is the result of much research, development and testing.

I think it'd be no more risky flying under that thing than jumping onboard a Boeing 737 Max 8 a few months back. I wonder what Aviassist would say about that?

And who the hell are Aviassist anyway?

Well no suprises there... they're a private company that makes it smoney out of drone training. I guess these guys' biggest sin was that the hadn't paid Aviassist for some training at some time.

I get pretty sick of "professionals" criticising the actions of non-professionals as if only those who are properly trained and certified have the skills, knowledge and experience to safely fly a drone.

The media are always quick to get quotes from the more sanctimonious members of the "professional" drone flying community whenever the actions of a "non-professional" are called into question. These companies and individuals often claim that tougher rules and regulations are essential to safety -- when in fact we know that what they're really thinking is "the more rules and regs the better because it means we'll have fewer competitors in the marketplace".

But how unsafe was that fishing flight? What's the worst that could have happened.

Well to be honest, the worst that could have happened is that the guy in the chair may have had to bail out into the water and get awfully wet.

If, as sanctimonious Mr Anderson from Avisoft suggests, "computer errors" caused the drone to fly away then the guy in the chair would have pretty quickly dived into the drink and the drone would have crashed either in the water or on the deserted scrubby surrounds.

Or, as Mr Anderson also suggested, there were "motor failures" then the craft would have plunged into the water, also deposting its passenger into the lake. But take note... this craft is well designed and has redundancy. Not only are their *TWELVE* motors on it but they are arranged in a tandem setup such that if one motor stops, the motor directly below or above it will take up the slack and it will remain both stable and controllable.

As I said, there is *no* evidence that this craft wasn't designed and built to a very high standard, in fact quite the opposite, it's well thought out and engineered.

Let's assume though, that the absolute worst thing possible happened and the passenger was killed due to a one in a million freak failure. What's the problem?

People do risky things all the time. Some people juggle knives and chainsaws -- but it's not illegal. Other people drive cars (which accounts for many hundreds of lives each year even in New Zealand). Others run with scissors, despite repeated warnings from their mothers.

We all engage in acts far less planned, scripted and risk-managed than this drone flight and most of those "dangerous" actions are 100% legal.

So what's the big damned deal?

Why are bureaucrats becoming the fun-police?

Why are we spending so much public money trying to restrict personal freedoms when, more often than not, the only lives placed in (very minor) danger are those of the person or persons exerising those freedoms.

Geez, can't we please be treated like adults rather than 3-year-olds?

Or is it just that the halls of bureaucracy are infested with people who's motto is "We're not happy until you're not happy"?

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