Saturday, April 24, 2010

A simple idea to help some major issues

I think two of the defining moments of recent history have been health care reform and the Great Recession. Whatever you opinions are on what HFR will do to our country and what to do about the GR, I believe I have a simple idea that will simultaneously improve economic productivity and efficiency (economists and Wall Street really loves that!) and public health.

What is this magical idea? Eliminate smoke breaks. No, I'm serious, hear me out.

In the area of economic productivity and efficiency I believe there are a lot of gains here. Every job I have worked at, and especially the current one, whenever I go in or out of the building there is a large posse of smokers basically wasting time outside. You have probably witnessed or participated these groups outside your workplace. These smoke breaks appear to be very leisurely and I often see people remain after finishing their cigarette. Obviously the more time workers are smoking the less time they are being productive. Additionally, something less obvious, would be increasing workplace fairness and thus (probably) increasing worker happiness, which leads to better productivity. This comes about because sometimes non-smokers (quite rightfully) feel that smokers are unfairly given extra breaks. Finally, do not think that I am saying no one should get breaks. Everyone needs occasional moments to step away from the work and mentally and physically refresh themselves, I'm just saying smokers shouldn't get extra privileges.

The health public health benefits should be fairly obvious: no secondhand smoke cloud at the exits for non-smokers and encouraging less smoking or quitting altogether for smokers.

Now that I've saved the country I'm going to get back to playing some video games...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Can we fully blame Toyota?

The news world is aflutter at the moment over yet another piece of bad news for Toyota: Consumer Reports has given the 2010 Lexus GX 460 a "Don't Buy" rating over a safety issue. For more about it, go to their site.

On reading their recommendation I can't help but think that drivers are partially at fault for this particular safety issue. The claim is that the SUV fishtails more than other tested SUVs in cornering/turning situations and this could possibly lead to rollovers if the driver lets his foot off the accelerator too quickly once in the turn. Let's look at the situation carefully. The root cause all goes back to the driver: entering a turn too quickly and not handling that situation appropriately. I am far from a perfect driver but I know that I, and most likely you, observe terrible driving all the time on the roads. Perhaps if people were better trained and more observant drivers to begin with things like this wouldn't be such an issue. Now, this isn't trying to take the blame off Toyota entirely because ESC is there to help you when in emergency situations, but if we're saying we need to rely entirely on a car's electrical components to keep us safe then there are far larger problems that need discussing.