Thursday, March 15, 2007

Public Drunkedness

Someone comes out of a bar, and they're clearly drunk. They want to go home. You have $100 to spend on the problem. What do you do?

Most (rational) people would say "get them a cab."

If you're like the city of Fresno, CA, you arrest them for public drunkedness and use the money you saved avoiding the cab to buy cool surveillance gear so you can find more of these drunks.

In Austin, Mother's Against Drunk Driving have been using their money to buy more police vans to park downtown so they can arrest batches of drunks at a time.

Call me crazy, but if your true concern is that these people not drive drunk, then spending the money on public transportation options is the way to go. This could be cab vouchers for bars to hand out (or even the police). This could be forming a dedicated ride service, with big posters of the phone number at the door of each bar.

In truly enlightened places, the money is spent on good mass transportation. I remember going out to drink in Tokyo, and the huge feeling of relief that I didn't need to worry about a car or a cab - I could just stumble to the nearest subway (always within a couple blocks) and make it home.

I bet the public transportation option is actually cheaper than the cost of arresting, processing, and keeping someone in jail...BUT...if your goal is to impose your version of morality on others and try to bring back prohibition...then I guess cops and gadgets is the way to go.

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