Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just an estimate

Steven Joyce's response to being exposed as deliberately choosing to murder 60 people int he name of liquor industry profits? Dismiss the death toll as just an estimate:

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the ministry's figure that 30 people a year would be saved if the blood alcohol limit was lowered was an estimate.

"It's effectively a projection of what they think will happen, can't be anymore accurate than that."

This belongs in the same intellectual bin as those who say evolution is "just a theory". The question here isn't whether its a theory or an estimate - but whether its a good one. And Joyce gives us no reason at all to doubt that.

The government makes decisions based on estimates and projections every day. Its decision on tax cuts was based on projections and estimates of their effects. Ditto the ETS. Ditto road user charges. The government accepts those estimates, but not this one. Why not? They haven't said, won't say, can't say - because they have no grounds to question it.

The brute fact here is that the government made a blatantly political decision to not lower the drink-drive limit to avoid being tarred with the "nanny state" brush. They blatantly ignored the empirical evidence in doing so. And 66 people (give or take) will die as a result.