For better or worse, the United States tries to let people take risks as long as they do not interfere with others. Want to smoke? Do it outside away from buildings. Want to ride a motorcycle? Get a license — adults can even skip the helmet in 28 states. We don’t like imposing our understanding of the good life on one another, so if fewer total years (or fewer with functional body parts) on a bike is your ideal, ride on! But calculating the cost of risk-taking to others is not that simple.
The problem with this tolerance is threefold. First, your lung cancer from smoking and brain injury from a bike wreck tax the health-care system: Close to $170 billion is spent on smoking-related medical services each year, and more than 156 billion is lost in productivity due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke. Injuries and deaths from motorcycle crashes cost approximately $12 billion in one recent year, and one study of 105 hospitalized motorcyclists showed that 63 percent of their care was paid for with public funds. Second, few people are capable of accurately weighing the benefits against such unfamiliar risks as inability to breathe unassisted or suffering locked-in syndrome because of a brain injury, so it’s difficult to say thrill seekers are taking fully “informed” risks. Third, we feel obligated to help our fellow citizens, and are usually willing to rescue the barely sane — whether naive first-timers or skilled experts bored with available risks — when their feats go awry. As much as we encourage athletes to engage at their own risk, the downside when it happens is shared.
I'm not quite sure if this is a critique/test of libertarians but should we rescue these kinds of people?
I don't sympathize with rich white guy's with more money than sense but the article slips down the slope to drug users. Logically it makes sense but I don't like the conclusion of not treating the (self imposed) sick. Like it's one thing to leave a frat boy on the mountain to die, but it's another to leave thousands of smokers or drinkers to succumb to their illnesses. The idea of a 'Do not rescue' order like they do with old people is a possible solution.