Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Lightening Strike Rule: Applying common sense to policy making

Donate Blood?  No thanksSome time ago, I wrote a blog post called The Price of Fear about how our litigious society is creating a world where we are no longer allowed to help each other.

This weekend I was reminded of that once again.

Our church held a blood drive for a local police officer and a good-sized crowd of people gave up their time – and their blood – for a worthy cause…except me.

I would have given…really.  I was a frequent blood donor in England.  But I’ve never given blood since moving to the U.S., because some bureaucrat decided that the risk of us Limeys infecting people with Mad Cow Disease is just too great.

Maybe you should try the fish.

Mad Cow?  Seriously?

According to sources, my chances of having variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) (the human equivalent of Mad Cow) are about one in 12 million.  Add to that the fact that I haven’t lived there for 18 years (and an incubation period that long seems pretty unlikely) and it would seem that we have a good case to overlook my time in the backwaters of England.

Instead, the American Red Cross and other blood donation agencies complain about a shortage of supply and a shrinking pool of donors, while turning away people from over 30 countries.  Those countries include such unhealthy places as:  Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Sweden and, of course, Britain.  (Although I will give them credit for excluding Belgium – the risk of a boredom epidemic are all too real…)

I have no idea how many willing donors are turned away, but I’m willing to bet it’s a good number.  If the agencies accepting blood donations want to stick with these crazy rules then I’ll add one of my own – you can exclude people based on dumb rules, or you can complain about the shrinking donor pool, BUT YOU CAN’T DO BOTH!

I think it’s time that as a country we rethink future policy making to include a “Sensibility Scale” – something that may be used as a litmus test before a policy is accepted. How about a “Lightening Strike” criterium?  

According to the National Weather Service, the chances of being struck by lightning are about 1 in 1,107,000.  I think most reasonable people understand that is pretty darn unlikely, so anything less likely that should really be ignored in future policy making.

There…that’s taken care of about 95% of the dumb rules we face in society.  Now I’ll go ponder the whole Middle East thing and see if I can find a solution before tea time.

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