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National Park Service Says Tech Is Enabling Stupidity 635

theodp writes "The National Park Service is finding technology to be a double-edged sword. While new technologies can and do save lives, the NPS is also finding that unseasoned hikers and campers are now boldly going where they never would have gone before, counting on cellphones, GPS, and SPOT devices to bail them out if they get into trouble. Last fall, a group of hikers in the Grand Canyon called in rescue helicopters three times by pressing the emergency button on their satellite location device. When rangers arrived the second time, the hikers complained that their water supply tasted salty. 'Because of having that electronic device, people have an expectation that they can do something stupid and be rescued,' said a spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park. 'Every once in a while we get a call from someone who has gone to the top of a peak, the weather has turned and they are confused about how to get down and they want someone to personally escort them. The answer is that you are up there for the night.'"
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National Park Service Says Tech Is Enabling Stupidity

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  • Charge for support (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:59AM (#33339164)
    A bill for a helicopter may not cure stupidity, but it will reduce its ability to afford to go there the next year.
  • Same old story (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scosco62 ( 864264 ) * on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:59AM (#33339166) Journal
    I really don't get articles like this; of course tech can provide some new versions of the same old store; but the fundamentals still hold true - some people are just going to go through life stupidly, trusting that someone else will bail them out. You want an answer; hold them accountable for their actions. For the idjits with the Salty Water; fine them the Rangers time, the fuel in the vehicles, plus a 10K punitive fine.
  • by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:08AM (#33339238)

    It's inevitable that geo-technology and *gasp* geo-equipped apps on cellphones, are going to make this all but even worse in the coming years or decade. IMHO, I don't think you ever get away from that battle unless you harbor legislation that gives them more than a handbook-rule judgement when to or not to help someone when stupidity has reared its ugly head into the matter.

    I am all for doing exactly what was quoted in the article: telling them they should have been more prepared and leaving that person out in the bush for the night to figure it out in the morning. However, we know the outcome of that: a bear chews their face off and NFS has a pile of lawsuits on their hands for claims of being negligent in the face of danger, no matter how insignificant the event called it was. Which also means more tax dollars tied up in court on top of calling out the rescue helicopters and NFS commandos.

  • This is wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:09AM (#33339240)
    It's not the tech that makes people stupid, it's stupid people using it that causes problems. GPS, SPOT and etc... are all great tools for use by campers, hikers, biker's and more. When you give these tools to people who don't have a clue then you going to have a situation where helicopters and rangers are getting called. There is nothing wrong with grabbing a map and a compass and going out on a hike, but with the advancement in tools to help us navigate more effectivily, who really wants to take an old school map with them. I support GPS and all the other tools fully, I think the problem this post points out is that when stupid people are given simple tools they find away to cause problems for everyone else.
  • Re:deposit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:09AM (#33339244) Homepage Journal

    I doubt many people can afford the potential millions..

  • If you read the article, they did fine them:

    The leader was issued a citation for creating hazardous conditions in the parks.

    Also, your reasoning that this is the 'same old story' doesn't work when this evidence is presented to you

    The group’s leader had hiked the Grand Canyon once before, but the other man had little backpacking experience. Rangers reported that the leader told them that without the device, "we would have never attempted this hike."

    Emphasis mine. If the National Park Service claims this is increasing their encounters with such idiots then this isn't the 'same old story.' As technology is further exacerbating the age old idiot complex.

  • by dlenmn ( 145080 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:16AM (#33339290)

    A lot of these devices seem to prevent planning in general, even for little things. If you had to look up an address and stare at a map ahead of time to know where you were going, then you'd think of other things in the process. Now you can just hop in your car, type what you want in to your phone (e.g. bike shop), and follow its directions. Maybe you'll end up where you want, but people who do that often seem to be unprepared. And I've seen people doing that get lost in the process -- those directions aren't perfect, and if you don't have some general idea of where you're going, its still easy to make wrong turns. (Dedicated GPS devices are better, but not perfect, and I've heard that their sales are down due to smartphones).

    Of course, it's not like in the old days everyone planned ahead and knew where they were and where they were going at all times. My family was big on planning routes, always having maps, and knowing how to read them. This is clearly not the case for many people I have met. I still think technology isn't helping.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:18AM (#33339306)

    Only Socialists think it is stupid to want to get something for your money. For what I am paying in taxes they should be life-flighting me filet mignon and caviar every half hour.

  • Re:This is wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <> on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:19AM (#33339322) Homepage

    > It's not the tech that makes people stupid, it's stupid people using it that causes problems.

    I doubt these people are really stupid. If anything, they are probably some of the smart ones. The problem is that incompetence has a way of tricking people into thinking they know what they are doing. Its conceptually easy to hike, especially with GPS. Without it, it was easy to see how lost you could get, and how hard it would be to come out with compass and map.

    GPS takes all that away. What the article points to is that these people were inexperienced at actual hiking in these conditions, and massively underestimated their challenge, because, they thought that the part solved by technology was the hard part. They were simply wrong.

    Is it stupid to, through lack of experience, underestimate a challenge and end up in over your head? It points to a lack of experience, but not really stupidity.


  • Two strikes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:22AM (#33339342) Homepage

    Last fall, a group of hikers in the Grand Canyon called in rescue helicopters three times by pressing the emergency button on their satellite location device. When rangers arrived the second time, the hikers complained that their water supply tasted salty.

    If I had been one of the rangers, those idiots wouldn't have had the device to use a third time. "Sorry, you can't have this. We're going now."

  • Re:deposit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peeteriz ( 821290 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:23AM (#33339350)

    Have them insure it.
    No doctor could afford the potential millions of a malpractice claim, so they are practically required to get insurance, and the climbing/hiking issue can be handled the same way. Some mountain ranges (if I remember correctly, including Everest) do practice this already.

  • by rwv ( 1636355 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:26AM (#33339374) Homepage Journal

    no matter how insignificant the event called it was.

    This is a classic "Boy who cried wolf" problem. During an emergency, responders need to take calls seriously unless there is overwhelming evidence that the call is a prank. After the second time the Grand Canyon SatPhone hikers pushed their emergency button, I think they ought to be put in the "sorry, you're on your own from here on out" category, giving bears uninterrupted access to eat their faces.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:26AM (#33339376) Homepage

    I'm pretty sure they do that already. If they don't, then they are simply enabling the stupidity. I can't speak for other areas, but I can speak to mine where ambulance service is concerned. Many many years ago, I had an 8 month old baby die. When we checked on him, he wasn't breathing but he was still warm. We called 9-1-1, they came out, restored a pulse but he died later at the hospital. A few days later, a rather large and unwelcome bill arrived in the mail for the services rendered.

    I was angry as hell. Consider this: If I hadn't called 9-1-1, I would have been a criminal. And by calling 9-1-1, I make myself liable for an emergency services bill. This defines "damned if you do and damned if you don't." I would be okay with billing someone for "false" or "needless" calls. It makes sense. But when it's an actual need, an actual emergency, and even death has occurred in the end, you would think some sympathy would result from the system. But yeah, I never paid that bill... though I think some insurance coverage might have. I don't remember that time period too well as you might imagine -- it was extremely emotional.

  • Wisdom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fishthegeek ( 943099 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:29AM (#33339402) Journal
    Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. - Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
  • Insurance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:30AM (#33339404)
    Here's an idea. Require anyone who wants to go up the mountain to carry insurance sufficient to cover the cost of rescue. Then let the insurance company work out how much to charge people based on how much experience and preparedness they can demonstrate.
  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:32AM (#33339428)

    Emphasis mine. If the National Park Service claims this is increasing their encounters with such idiots then this isn't the 'same old story.' As technology is further exacerbating the age old idiot complex.

    It IS still the same old story, just with slightly different actors and tech:

    "Without technical climbing gear that we don't know how to use, we'd never have attempted the climb"

    "Without the new railroad to get us to Glacier National Park, we'd never have attempted the climb"

    "Without the invention of fire, we'd never have attempted to fight that saber toothed tiger"

    Same old same old about stupid people wasting the time of the brave/helpful people.

  • by capnkr ( 1153623 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:35AM (#33339442)
    ...or prosecute/put on trial the person(s) responsible once the rescuee(s) have been returned, to determine whether negligence and/or stupidity is to blame. If it is, then slap the fines to them, making sure they at least pay the bill for rescue ops.

    The payee could be the someone rescued, or someone like Laurence & Maryanne Sunderland, the (ir)responsible parents of "I-Hit-The-Button-Come-Save-My-Ass-Before-I-Die" posterchild Abby Sunderland [], who had no right or reason to be in the Southern Ocean on a boat she was woefully unprepared for sailing even at latitudes where the weather is generally good. Estimates have put her rescue costs as approaching, or even over, US$1 million - not to mention the risk to the rescuers lives. All that cost and wastefulness for a publicity stunt designed for media whoredom and familial enrichment...
  • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:35AM (#33339446) Homepage Journal

    Here's another idea. Permit anyone to go up the mountain, but don't provide them rescue services if they don't get the insurance first. I'm tired of all this protecting people from themselves, crap. Let's just protect society from people. Meanwhile, preventing poor people from hiking is not a good solution. Those mountains belong to everyone... and carrion eaters need food, too. Won't someone think of the animals?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:37AM (#33339466)
    What, you want the government to pay your bill? This is America, out healthcare system isn't built on helping people, it's built of profit, damnit. You must be a COMMUNIST!!!
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:44AM (#33339520) Journal
    My understanding is that ambulance services, being "medical" rather than police or fire, fall into the weird realm where no real market exists, in a useful sense; but there is strong unwillingness to face that fact.

    There are, in fact, numerous different ambulance services, some public, some private; but the people calling them are rarely in a position to chose one in any useful sense. And, being an emergency service, they don't get to pick and choose customers(at least not by legal methods. I would be shocked, shocked, to discover that ambulances are based in a demographically predictable pattern, and that the guys driving them for not that much an hour respond faster to neighborhoods where the odds of being shot are low...).

    Because of this, there isn't really a useful "price" for ambulance service. If you use it, you get a gigantic bill ($2k on the low end); but many of those simply go unpaid, rattle around collections for pennies on the dollar, get negotiated under some sort of hardship plan, or get paid by insurance at some shadowy-but-not-literally-secret rate agreed upon between the insurer and the provider.
  • Re:deposit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:45AM (#33339524) Homepage

    Thereby ensuring that only those who can afford this kind of small-pool high-risk insurance are permitted to use the parks. Not an idea I can get behind.

  • Re:Insurance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:46AM (#33339534)
    Require anyone who wants to go up the mountain to carry insurance sufficient to cover the cost of rescue.

    Any other things you think government should *require* people to do in a group pitching itself as a free society?
  • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arogier ( 1250960 ) * on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:46AM (#33339546) Homepage Journal
    And thus the American frontier was closed forever. Having a family gathering in park just outside of town that happens to be wooded and have a small lake? $450 for six hours of indemnity covering no more than twelve people. Cant pay it? Stay out of the park.

    The National Parks are America's greatest natural treasures, but they come with the downside of the unpredictability of nature and the inherent hazards thereof. Regulate medicine, regulate markets, but let wilderness be wilderness. Park Rangers should hand out copies of Nash's "Wilderness and the American Mind" the way Gideons hand out the Bible to hotels.
  • Re:Two strikes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:48AM (#33339554) Journal
    Two? Pick them up the first time, take them down to the base, and present them with a bill for the flight. To use the other poster's metaphor, don't leave the boy who cried wolf with your sheep.
  • Re:EASY button. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Freeman ( 933986 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:58AM (#33339616)
    They should have arrested the hikers the first time. There shouldn't have been a third time.
  • by Nevynxxx ( 932175 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:59AM (#33339634)

    I think you missed the "and are not sinking" line.

    If you need it, you don't pay.

    It's the same here with the fire service and ambulance service. Free, unless it's a false alarm.

  • Re:This is wrong. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:01AM (#33339656) Homepage

    I think that the ability to properly assess the challenge of an unfamiliar situation is pretty much a hallmark of intelligence. Learning from experience is just operant conditioning; chimps and dogs and mice do that. Applying one's limited knowledge to unfamiliar situations takes higher-level abstract thinking, and if you aren't able to do that... that's stupidity. Much as the beginning of wisdom is realizing that you aren't wise, the beginning of intelligence is recognizing the limits of what you know. Actual intelligence is overcoming that.

  • by Hertzyscowicz ( 1106209 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:01AM (#33339660)
    Also, whenever there's a needless or stupidity-induced call for a helicopter, kick the caller and their party out of the park. See how long this keeps up when the park service doesn't just do expensive water shipments whenever you're a little short.
  • Tech enabling? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:05AM (#33339700) Journal

    No. Stupidity enables Stupidity.

    blaming tech for stupid people doing stupid things is well......stupid

  • by mattrumpus ( 677024 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:08AM (#33339726)

    Fuck you for your anti-social attitude. This person's child, who is a citizen of your society, needed urgent medical attention. Really, are you that lacking in compassion you would stand by and say "fuck you" to someone dealing with a sick baby?

    Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you?

  • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:08AM (#33339728)

    Yes, I think government should require people not to have to foot the bill for others' stupidity.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:10AM (#33339740)

    We rescue these morons.

    Honestly, Evolution is getting reversed because we save the "stupid" from getting killed. The news covers the death of a moron as "a tragedy" instead of , "and there's at least another idiot we dont have to deal with anymore"

    Our society encourages Stupidity because the risk of death is reduced or removed. Let these idiots die, leave their bodies there as a warning to others.

    AFAIK, the technology as it stands right now allows the moron to call for help.

    It does not allow the ranger to establish ahead of time if it's a moron who's crying for help or an experienced hiker with all the appropriate equipment who just happened to be unlucky.

  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:14AM (#33339786)

    When I was in Boy Scouts as a kid, we had to learn to read topographical maps and use a compass. Maybe we had a cell phone, maybe not. hand-held GPS was kind of expensive and not particularly advanced. Besides, GPS needs batteries and adds weight.

    Hiking with a map and compass and no "please, come get me!" beacon is like programming in C or Assembler. You're closer to the metal and have to have a deeper understanding of what you're actually doing. Going out with GPS is like jumping right in with a language like Ruby which makes things really easy at first... until the first time you forget to properly define a base case for a recursive function and hit a stack error message.

    The tools are great, but are always going to work way better for people who understand the basic principles of what's being automated for them, and have some "old school" experience to fall back on when necessary. Easy tools that take all the hard work out of a lot of necessary tasks lead to a false sense of security.

    As with programming, where high-level, dynamic languages make it much easier for people who might otherwise not take the time to learn to program do so, going "here's a GPS... and this rescue beacon!" encourages people who probably don't really want to learn how to tie proper knots go out in the woods, get themselves in way over their head, and then basically hit that stack error. But, never having had to address memory by hand, they don't really know what that means or what to do about it.

    I go hiking fairly regularly, and I don't even own any of that stuff. You can get USGS topo quads easily enough, and a good compass. Sturdy boots, balanced pack, and my leatherman. Carry enough water and some spare granola bars in case I get out farther than I had really planned. If I'm in the woods, its 'cause I don't want to be attached to the computer anymore. But maybe thats because I work surrounded by them all day.

  • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arogier ( 1250960 ) * on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:17AM (#33339832) Homepage Journal
    The $450 came out of my ass. The problem is the holy grail of "Marginal cost = Marginal Revenue" that every student of economics is taught to chase. Unfortunately such equilibrium as well as the cool graphs seldom exist in real markets with the Kantian level of absolutism in which the texts lionize them. The other problem is the aversion generally felt to allowing preventable deaths to occur. As a result agencies have to navigate a fussy middle ground, and market solutions often fail in problems constructed outside of specific market friendly environments.

    The best solution to this problem would involve education, but considering as an American my nation's failings decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King to provide equality of opportunity to primary and secondary education the only reasonable solution to wilderness stupidity is to continue to allow people to dare to be stupid while offering compassionate and occasionally billable solutions to consequences of stupidity..
  • by E IS mC(Square) ( 721736 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:19AM (#33339870) Journal

    >> Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you?

    This is what Capitalism as taught in this country has done to him. And many others. Profit at any cost!!! Ethics and morals be damned, I am not paying shit. Neither should government. Nor should the neighbors help each other.

    If he ever gets into a situation where he needs urgent 911/ambulance/fire services, I wish they charge him a million dollars first.

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:23AM (#33339908) Homepage Journal

    So waive the bill if there's a legitimate emergency, and make this fact plain.

  • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CFBMoo1 ( 157453 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:27AM (#33339942) Homepage
    Cheaper an even more profitable idea is to publish all the stupid people rescue stories. If a person is rescued from their own stupidity they give up any rights to profits made from their story on the mountain or whatever and the park services can rake in the dough. Name and shame them on a TV show and/or YouTube. This will have the added effect of educating the public to be less stupid as well since the entertainment can also be edutainment at the same time.
  • Re:Insurance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:28AM (#33339944) Homepage
    And how exactly are we going to enforce that? Build giant walls around every mountain in the country?
  • by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:32AM (#33339984)

    Start charging a fee for services. Set the rates make sure they are known in advance. Outsource to a private company to provide the service (can't have emergency personnel tied up on a catering run). Done and done

    Brilliant. Outsource to a single private company. Grant a monopoly. You can choose to die or to go bankrupt.

    Oh, no, wait... outsource to multiple companies so that service suffers, maintenance on resque equipment is reduced, the pilots are underpaid and you have to agree to the terms first (stay only in open places, on paved paths and within 500 meters of the coffee house).

    While I agree that everyone who gets into trouble in national parks is basically asking for it (nobody lives there, everybody entered by free will), a big improvement can simply be made by warnings that the rangers can't always resque you. It's not so much the gadgets which make people trust that they get resqued, it's the fact that they don't know that the rangers will let you actually sit it out for a night if it's not so serious.

    Get an alarm number with someone answering the phone who judges how serious the siuation is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:32AM (#33339988)
    But Roger Clemens committed a SERIOUS crime. He LIED to CONGRESS! He needs to be prosecuted for this crime. These hikers are doing nothing but costing the US taxpayers a little extra every year. Why should congress get involved with that?
  • Re:Not New (Score:5, Insightful)

    by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:43AM (#33340120)

    Actually... the Dutch coastline does the same. Beautiful beaches, but treacherous sea currents. Thousands of swimmers get into trouble... and it's always the stupid ones who get into trouble (those who swim away from the beach, rather than parallel to it).

    Should we tax all the tourists, because they may go for a swim, and may get into trouble?? Fine the stupid ones so they never come back?

    No, we chose to try to inform as many as possible... and have resque services for free. Tourists keep coming (we don't scare them away with crazy fines, and they love the beaches). That brings in money, and part of that money is used to have a couple of hundred men and women in the resque servives, who are out on the water and in the air all the day.

    Tourists always get into more trouble than the locals... no matter where you go.

  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:45AM (#33340136)

    Personally...I wouldn't rescue them. They and their kids can die from their stupidity...means taking them/future progeny out of the gene pool for the betterment of society.

    Wow. Mr Compassion himself. Let's see.. Paying 3 cents more in your state taxes vs drowned child corpses floating around. Hmmm. I guess that's not much of a decision. Americans are known for only caring about money and posts like this are the evidence. If stupid people deserve to die, then I guess we should sentence all mentally retarded, or maybe even anyone with a tested IQ less than 120, to death then. It would save money in most cases and may even contribute to a more intelligent US population. Seems like win-win to me. Would you exempt pretty girls from this death sentence from stupidity though? After all there wouldn't be many attractive females left in this country if they all had to be intelligent.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday August 23, 2010 @09:58AM (#33340308) Homepage Journal

    Not sure how official this is, but from my outdoor experience, always learned that one whistle was to get attention, 2 was for acknowledgement, and 3 whistles in a row were for emergency.

    It's officially stupid to expect people to whistle a given number of times when they're lost and scared.

  • by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:03AM (#33340402)

    And the insurance company, hospital, or central dispatching system are the consumers of the market, not the person calling the ambulance.

    Just like when you're building a house - you choose the general contractor, but he chooses the guys who do the drywall, the plumbing, and the foundation. The bill and the quality all go through him and affect his reputation, so he has a strong incentive to hire someone who knows what they're doing. Their bill comes out of his bottom line, so he has incentive to keep costs down.

    Ambulances, as a service provided by the hospital should work the same, if each hospital were not granted a regional monopoly on care.

    An additional factor here is that a few emergency situations that require emergency care within 5 minutes, but the vast majority simply need it in less than an hour. Our system is hugely weighted toward giving the 5 minute service in all cases, and that will drive up costs. Not making a value judgment, just saying that is the way it is.

  • by quatin ( 1589389 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:16AM (#33340622)

    I see a lot of knee jerk responses about charging EVERYONE for using emergency services or making it some type of crime to be calling emergency services.
    We all pay for the park service to be alert in case something goes wrong. It's their job to provide help. Just, because some people abuse the service, doesn't mean you should mess it up for everyone.

    It doesn't matter what technology you provide or don't provide, stupid people will do stupid things and end up being a cost to society. If we didn't have SPOT, someone idiot will bring flares and "accidentally" set a forest fire while signaling for help. You simply have to allocate for stupidity. If you try to make the world idiot proof, then we'll all be living in misery.

  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:18AM (#33340656)
    I would much rather everyone get free healthcare.

    There is no such thing. Merely a different line item on your paystub.
    Unless hospitals and equipment miraculously spring forth by themselves, powered by puppy farts and ground unicorn horn, and doctors/nurses/admin are paid from that pot o gold at the end of the rainbow...there is no such thing as 'free healthcare'.

    Stop calling it that.
  • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:21AM (#33340716) Journal

    > don't provide them rescue services if they don't get the insurance first.

    So impoverished people can go up the mountain, they just don't get rescue services? I guess that's sensible if you are a die-hard capitalist libertarian, but then why do we need the government to do the rescuing? Let the richer hikers contract with Blackwater or something, and let everybody know the government won't be helping anybody.

    And if some little 3-year old toddler wanders off, she'd better have the sense to have been born in the upper middle class or have lots of friends, because the sheriff can't afford to waste resources on some stupid little girl when his deputies are so busy forcibly evicting bankrupt citizens from their homes.

  • by Gulthek ( 12570 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:22AM (#33340732) Homepage Journal

    The "nerve"? That was actually the driver trying to do the right thing and let you know up front that you'll have to pay for the ride. A lot of people assume that ambulance rides are free when they are actually nothing of the sort. Better to know what you are getting into than be shocked with a $1000 bill later.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:35AM (#33340986)

    I'm sure you're going to get a hatful of glibertarian responses, but please, allow me to express my sincere condolences over the loss of your baby.

  • by Securityemo ( 1407943 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:42AM (#33341106) Journal
    Socialism is for spineless weaklings and parasites - until a situation arises where you are a spineless weakling.
  • Poor people? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:42AM (#33341118) Journal

    How many truely "poor" people have a GPS+cellphone or a SPOT device. I could see possibly the cellphone because it's fairly useful/important for job-seekers, etc, but a SPOT (device cost+yearly subscription) or a GPS?

    Nah, these are just pampered idiots with too many fancy toys and not enough common sense. Up here in Canada they do charge you the cost of dispatching emergency services if you use your SPOT etc without a real emergency.

  • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:46AM (#33341184)

    Here in Arizona, there is no fee to those that we rescue. We're all volunteers with the exception of DPS Ranger. SPOT beacons have saved several people's lives in the last couple of years. The first in the county was a guy who slipped off the edge of a steep trail and broke both ankles. Luke AFB got the first ping in 45 minutes. That's a damn sight better than waiting an unknown number of hours before someone notices that the subject is missing. Cellphones also help us direct ground units to the subject. That being said, SAR teams do not rescue peoples' vehicles and we have gotten into shouting matches with people from Phoenix who got stuck in the snow and are stunned that we will take them to safety but they're going to have to arrange for a paid tow service to get their vehicle out.

    That being said, the NPS is somewhat hypocritical about things. First off, in Yellowstone, there is no cellphone service in most of the park despite what the movie 2012 would have you believe. Second, I have witnessed the ancient diesel noisy belching shuttle buses at the Grand Canyon blow right past people on the side of the road who may be injured or in trouble simply because they weren't standing at a designated pick up point.

    Furthermore, technology isn't the only thing that can get people into trouble. The US Forest Service often doesn't maintain roads that appear on published maps and GPS databases as good roads so people end up in trouble. And then there are the outdoor magazines. We had a rescue here of a man who read an article that said you should hike up one trail and bushwhack over to another trail to come out. Really really bad idea if you don't know what you're doing.

  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:48AM (#33341206)
    Oh come on, there are far worse people out there in the gene-pool than these idiots. These people are stupid, but they have at least set out to challenge themselves, have an adventure and see the world. So many spend their entire life watching TV, drunk in bars, stoned on the couch or playing farmville and will risk quite little. If we are going to start eliminating ill-prepared hikers from the gene-pool, I would suggest they be on the list somewhere after drunk-drivers and well after coke-pushers and con artists. Society has many problems, but it for the most part is not caused by these hikers.
  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @10:53AM (#33341336) Homepage

    Or perhaps you'd prefer a world without 911 services being available.
    ... Or perhaps you'd prefer to live in the world outside the US, and some of the more primitive parts of the Third World, where you are denied treatment unless you show up with cold hard cash.

  • Re:Same old story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @11:07AM (#33341540)

    A few years ago, I was vacationing in Gimmelwald, Switzerland and happen to be staying in the same hotel with two backpackers. As we taking in the great view of surrounding mountains, the innkeeper was discussing the mountain across the valley. I can't remember the name of the peak but he mentioned how he's known of only one person that's climbed it. Immediately one of the backpackers wanted to go the next day and climb it. His friend was less than enthused about it. The conversation went something like this:

    "We can do it."
    "I don't know man, that looks very tough."
    "We got a lot of upper body strength, we can do it!"
    "I don't know; we don't really know what we're doing."

    Some things to consider: The climb appeared to be a nearly vertical 2300 ft (700m). The rock did not appear to be entirely solid but crumbly at different points. Having spent time with rock climbers, they will tell you rock climbing is less on upper body strength than balance, flexibility, and coordination. Strength is required but anyone relying on upper body strength alone will quickly tire.

    A 2300 ft vertical climb is normally a multi-day climb: Being nearly vertical, climbers will have to sleep hooked into the rock face. By comparison, fit climbers spend about on average 4-5 full days climbing The Nose route (3000 ft) at El Capitan in Yosemite with a 60% success rate. Perhaps the biggest warning: The innkeeper knew of only one person who did it.

    Luckily for that guy his friend talked him out of climbing the peak.

  • by cptdondo ( 59460 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @11:35AM (#33342040) Journal

    I was the disaster preparedness officer in the National Guard for a bunch of years. Whenever I did an evaluation (and some of these were full-scale deoployments with aircraft and 1,000 personnel) I'd start taking away all of the high tech stuff.

    You depend on radios? I'll figure out a way to compromise them. Somebody will be careless and leave one laying around. I'll disconnect your computer network, jam your wireless. I'll steal cars, hide your keys. If nothing else, I'll overwhelm your digital network with too much information.

    The good units had paper-and-pencil backups and runners. The bad units came apart.

    Same with hiking; never let the technology override your ability. We hike with a GPS, but we always carry a paper map and and a compass. Last time we did this, my kids were 100' off from the GPS coordinates - after 3 hours of bushwhacking over broken terrain. You can stay found if you know what you are doing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:40PM (#33343216)

    I never cease to be shocked when I read about the US healthcare system.

  • by dlenmn ( 145080 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:46PM (#33343288)

    I never wrote that maps are better than GPS -- I wrote that they _required_ some amount of planning, and that planning is good. If you use GPS and you plan ahead (and carry a map as a backup) then you're probably better off than someone who just uses maps and plans ahead. Likewise, someone with a map who plans ahead is quite possibly better off than someone who has GPS and doesn't plan ahead (which is easy to do, because GPS doesn't require planning ahead).

    Also, how exactly does a map lock you in to one route? I'm not talking preprinted direction from google; I'm talking about real maps. If you think a map locks you in to one route, then you don't know how to read one.

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @12:48PM (#33343330) Journal
    "Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong."- Leo Buscaglia

    I suggest that a strong and fit civilisation can afford to be gentle and generous to many. A weak and ailing one cannot.

    Maybe if someone does something really stupid/reckless (assume someone wiser and smarter than me sets the criteria), they lose their right to vote for 4 years (it gets automatically restored after that). If they keep doing stuff like that, they keep losing their right to vote.

    Would that be more or less evil in the long term?
  • by Pingmaster ( 1049548 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:01PM (#33343508)
    At least when we pay our health care taxes, it means we don't have to pay the hospital too.
  • Re:Insurance (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:17PM (#33343818)

    Whites get the same shitty education everyone else does

    we have equality, it's just that when zero equals zero the math isn't very interesting

  • by gknoy ( 899301 ) <gknoy AT anasazisystems DOT com> on Monday August 23, 2010 @01:50PM (#33344364)

    Ethics and morals? You mean like the ethics of coldly using the excuse of grief to stiff the people who tried to save your baby's life?

    How dare you wish harm on me for calling someone out who is trying to make up his own exceptions as he goes?... He could go find out what's up with his debt right now but he'd rather bury his head in the sand, with the potent excuse of a dead baby, whose corpse he will apparently pull out and shake in the face of whoever dares to ask for money

    We must have read and understood the original poster differently. He said,

    I never paid that bill... though I think some insurance coverage might have

    I took that to mean that, while he didn't specifically pay that bill, he assumed that his insurance covered it, along with the myriad of other medical bills with similar large-sounding numbers. If he had "stiffed" the hospital, he would have heard about it by now from either the hospital or a collection agency. I think it's much more likely that the bill was payed by insurance on his behalf than that he decided not to pay them.

    Also ... your words in this thread have been remarkably insensitive to a man who has lost his baby. Try exercising some empathy, instead of heaping your scorn and animosity on anyone that disagrees with you or sympathizes with this man. I realize that you feel strongly about hospitals which are poorly funded, and about insurance companies who are (by definition) in the business of paying out as little as possible. I assure you, many of us feel similarly about that, but this man is not the person on whom to be heaping all of that on. I mean, you CAN do that, if you want, but most civilized people will classify that as being a jerk.

  • by harl ( 84412 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @02:01PM (#33344536)

    You had me up to mandating insurance. That's just crazy talk. It's the definition of fascist.

  • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @03:14PM (#33345660) Journal

    A lot of these devices seem to prevent planning in general, even for little things.

    They do not prevent they just reduce the amount required. This is typical of most technology. A hundred years ago taking a transatlantic trip required a huge amount of planning and was a month or longer proposition. Now you can book a flight online and catch it the following day (usually at a premium price though!) to just about anywhere in the world.

    I still think technology isn't helping.

    I disagree. Stupid people will always do stupid things with or without is just that technology affords them the chance to find new, innovative ways to be stupid. If these people are being stupid in a National Park then they are not being stupid somewhere else so while the problem may have shifted to the NPS rangers presumably the police are dealing with fewer daft emergency calls.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @07:37PM (#33348958)
    Failing that, it's practically impossible to not be able to get Medicaid or some other government assistance to get your children covered.

    The point where you can get low deductible insurance to cover a family of 4 on the open market is about the same as the level at which you can get Medicaid. So if you have medical care as such a priority, quitting all work is ofren the cheapest solution to that problem. Is that really what you want to be advocating?

    Finally, I am absolutely fine with the current approach of de-prioritizing medical bills, and absolutely happy to pay the extra so that people have an additional step before bankruptcy. What I am not fine with is somebody who most likely could have paid the bill deciding not to pay it, and then trotting out the dead baby to preemptively vilify anyone who disagrees.

    The issue was that someone who hasn't dealt with it would think that ambulances, ordered through the same line that gets firemen and policemen, would have costs in line with firemen and policemen (zero for those). Also, when not calling an ambulance is a crime, one would expect that calling one wouldn't be a required expense. As such, regardless of why the ambulance is called, one may be upset at receiving a bill. Add to that the emotional nature of the person receiving the bill having just lost a child, and you can understand how he'd be upset.

    I can shop taxi services. They have the prices on the doors. They are explicit for what they charge for. Ambulances can't be shopped for (at least not practically in an emergency situation) and don't have explicit charges listed. They are ordered through a line that has all other services offered for free. As such, it wasn't the child that made the charge unreasonable, but the entire situation with ambulances.

    That you see someone mention a child then go off to be as abusive and insensitive as possible indicates you have some personal problem. No one else saw it as a logicless cry of "think of the children" but instead as an explanation of one person's frustration.
  • Re:Why so harsh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bussdriver ( 620565 ) on Monday August 23, 2010 @08:13PM (#33349250)

    Life IS harsh; you are sheltered.

    I think 50 years ago was just fine and we don't need to go beyond what was done then for the most part. Today we are going too far; the TFA gives a few examples.

    Being cruel is not the issue. Its not a slippery slope (which is a fallacy BTW and rather silly to use in such a way.) It is a complex issue without a simple line that can be drawn on a spectrum. I'm ONLY referring to common sense, not actually useful measures like poison warning labels.

    I suppose you feel that something in the system is wrong when you read about each years darwin award contenders? The system was supposed to save them somehow right?

    Some idiot sterilizes himself by doing something stupid and we spend a ton of money having smart people not just save him but also restore fertility...

    Government is continually doing things for our own good as a guise for other motives which is yet another reason to hold back on all this protectionism BS. 1 person dies of something and then we all have to adjust because 1 in the next million might repeat it. We'll put effort into that because politicians get temporary traction while long term battles like cancer sacrifice a few resources (or other problem that is not self afflicted.)

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments