Spikes and Steering Wheels
In the Armchair Economist, Steven Landsburg writes:
If you find it hard to believe that people drive less carefully when their cars are safer, consider the proposition that people drive more carefully when their cars are more dangerous. This is, of course, just another way of saying the same thing, but somehow people find it easier to believe. If the seat belts were removed from your car, wouldn’t you be more cautious in driving? Carrying this observation to the extreme, Armen Alchian of the University of California at Los Angeles has suggested a way to bring about a major reduction in the accident rate: Require every car to have a spear mounted on the steering wheel, pointing directly at the driver’s heart. Alchian confidently predicts that we would see a lot less tailgating.But a colleague of Gordon Tullock's attributes it to him:
Gordon also has his own unique brand of humor. I remember his many outrageous examples that tickled my funny-bone. For instance, he'd insist that if the government were really serious about people driving safely, there ought to be a law mandating an iron spike protruding from the steering wheel in the direction of the driver's breast.So is it Alchian or Tullock who first came up with this colorful hypothesis? Or someone else?