My wife and I have two young children. We experience all of the usual pleasantries and unpleasantries that other parents do. However, there is one aspect of parenting that I have come to loathe – the car seat. Why, you might ask, do I have such vitriol inside of me?
There are many other reasons I do not like them – including the fact that I cannot stand shopping in children’s stores. But why I really can’t stand them is that I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason they have become mandatory “safety” equipment in cars is because a very aggressive group of parental and industry lobbyists works hard to make sure those rules stay on the books. So you have people who are genuinely concerned about the safety of children in the event of an auto-accident (these are the baptists in Bruce Yandle’s terminology) providing cover to the special interests and companies that stand to gain from the production of these safety devices (the baptists). Heck, even the local fire department is in on the gig – they often sponsor car-seat safety inspections and tutorials for parents – not surprising in an era when private alternatives to fire suppression are increasingly popular.
And why does this drive me nuts? Because it is special privilege that is hard to see. And take a second to think about the automobile industry. Do you really believe it is anywhere in the realm of reasonable to believe that the manufacturers of cars would not have figured out by now a safe way to buckle in small children? That does not come close to passing the smell test in an era when we have air conditioned seats, iPod adapters, Bluetooth, automatic safety belts, tire pressure sensors, reverse cameras, dual thermostats, moonroofs, mirror defrosters, and more. So tell me why we don’t see the car companies coming forth with these safety innovations if there are not bootleggers running around behind the scenes profiting at my expense?