There, I said it. It’s true. Sometimes America sucks. It sucks to travel overseas and feel embarrassed to be American. Yes, I feel proud to be American, but it is an overabundance of pride that gets us a lousy reputation. It is sort of sad when you meet someone in a foreign country and they are shocked that an American could actually be a person they would want to know. I was in my corner store this weekend and I told the clerk that I thought it was cool that they had Saudi money taped on the wall. He was amazed that I knew it was Saudi because I could recognize King Faud. Are we really so solipsist that people are floored when we acknowledge something beyond our borders?
But I digress, this was not the point of this post. I began thinking that America sucks because we are so litigious. We took our dog to the beach yesterday. Actually, we drove our dog an hour to a beach, illegally allowed him to set foot on the boardwalk, and then hustled him off the sand when he illegally jumped onto it. We looked for a beach that allows dogs for about an hour. None to be found. I asked a cop and he had no idea if such a thing existed. He also confirmed my suspicion that it is due to fear of lawsuits that dogs are not allowed. This is not an irrational fear. If the media is to be believed, Americans sue at the drop of a hat. And for you non-dog-loving folk out there, they also ban kites at nearly all of the beaches. You can’t fly a kite at the beach for fear of litigation.
I am not going to go into the whole debate of whether we are too litigious and whether that is good or bad. You can read fun stuff on that here, here, here, and here. These links are a pretty wide spectrum of ideas, I try to include all sides.
No, what I want to do is propose a solution. In a book I am reading, Nudge, the authors propose an optional “no-sue” clause for doctors and patients in order to discount medical care and prevent overly-cautious medicine. My proposal is similar. At my beach, let’s call it Liberty Beach (oh, I loves me some jingoism!), there will be a huge sign: “Warning: You are entering a no-sue zone. Alcohol, dogs, kite flying, nudity, radio playing, and any other activity that does not physically harm the beach or other people is expressly allowed. By entering, you waive your right to sue. If you don’t like it, go elsewhere. Jerk.” Sure, there have to be some rules. People are largely stupid and pathologically lack personal accountability, so you have to police it a bit. But the idea is simply that as a condition of entry, you accept that shit might happen, as it tends to do. And that you are OK with that. I would gladly exchange my freedom to file a frivolous lawsuit for the freedom to take my dog on a beach. That just sounds like good economics to me.
I have no doubt that this is likely a complete fantasy and 99% infeasible. Most people are not intelligent or self-aware enough to accept complete freedom, they need rules. The rest are libertarians. However, it would be nice to live on Liberty Beach and play fetch naked while drinking, listening to a radio, and flying a kite without fear of the sight of my naked ass causing millions of dollars worth of emotional distress and/or pain and suffering. Again.