It’s in the news recently that US wireless providers are working on a service to allow¬†text messaging to emergency¬†responders. Everyone assumes this will make people more safe, but will it really?

There are several hidden costs to this possibility, one of which is a lower barrier to contacting emergency services. You can bet that every time there’s a gunshot in an urban area the number of emergency contacts will go up from the 15 people who would call to the 45 that would text.

The other issue with a SMS-based system is that it will make it much harder on emergency operators, already probably receiving a higher volume of contacts, to screen the callers or rather texters. It can be hard enough to get any sort of context in 140 characters, even when you know the person on the other end, to say nothing of when you don’t know them or where they are at the time they’re texting you. When you think about it you can probably imagine the chaos of trying to figure out what sort of emergency it is and where before sending the officers on the street running every which way to actually get to the location.

It may be the way of the future, but it’s going to require some restructuring and possibly some increased costs and the difficulties of dealing with emergencies through a medium that most people find ill-suited for anything urgent. In the real world a text can go minutes and hours without a response, and prolongs any conversation. We’ll see how that translates to emergencies and emergency responders trying to ask questions to find out more.


This recent Forbes article raises a couple questions in my mind.

Is it unusual for the young to lean toward the left, especially given the fact that change is often the essence of the left wing? And many of the young seem to be more open to change.

Second, what proportion of the population is young vs. old as the categories are defined in this article? I thought that America was aging. If that’s the case, what explains the recent political victories of the left? While the right has won a few elections, the left has been winning on several issues they consider important. Can all this be attributed to the young?

Sooner or later, almost every discussion of our economic situation comes around to Social Security. Someone always brings it up, as well they should. It’s an enormous expense that weighs heavily on the government and on the taxpayers. While it has very positive effects for the people who depend on it, it’s far from being one big positive.

It is a major expense for the government, and it drags heavily especially on younger workers who are nowhere near collecting from the system themselves. Although everyone complains about the horror of the idea of stopping social security payments for seniors today, you don’t hear as much about the position of recent college grads who are not certain if they’re ever going to see any of the percentage that disappears from their paycheck every month. There’s no way of knowing if Social Security will exist by the time they’re eligible to get something from the system they’ve been paying into.

I’m not proposing that it’s a good idea to stop payments, but I think it’s interesting to think about why we even have this system in the first place. If I’m not mistaken, it came out of the economic hardships of the Great Depression. Many people were unable to care for themselves, and so the government offered to pick up the responsibility. This has great benefits for the government, since it makes people dependent on it instead of taking care of their own needs outside of the system. Government grows in strength when people depend on it.

What else does Social Security do? It makes people less likely to plan for their own future, thus making them even more dependent. In a way, it also makes people less generous. Americans no longer have to think about the future of their aging relatives. They have no cause to make personal sacrifices when they can just assuage their concerns with the knowledge that their government will take care of relatives for them. Does this make our culture stronger?

These are the types of questions that government doesn’t like to bring up or consider.

And with the system the way it is, politicians, our president included don’t hesitate to pull on the threat of ending Social Security checks to get people to vote for them. In this piece from the Examiner, we see the president do just that, threatening the possible necessity of stopping this source of income. And it works, because people don’t know where to turn. People can’t rely on other people that should care for them. I think this is a problem.

[This post is part 2 of a series found here]