‘tis the season to… by golly!
Regulate the Christmas lights you got for little lolly…
Yes, apparently because there have been IIRC 250 deaths (since 1980) in the US which have fallen away to 1 per year… Nanny needs to pass new regulations, which will, inevitably be expensive, onerous and um… put the price of Christmas lights up. Maybe make it impossible for Joe Sixpack to waste his money on pleasing the kiddies. Now, the chances Joe will be struck by lightning and die are (on this year’s stats) 26 times higher than your chances of death-by-Christmas lights. With even the chances of death by lightning at 26/about 350 000 000, make the odds on a Darwin-award Christmas Decorator about as likely as a Hugo Awards going to anyone but yet another set of outspoken PC far leftists SJW this year (yes, they’re approaching infinite improbability). Yet, most certainly the regulations have only a slightly lower chance of occurring than the usual situation in the ‘It’s absolutely fair and un-politically unbiased’ Hugo awards.
It is in general a losing proposition for the ordinary consumer – of lights or Science Fiction. It’s pretty certain to be a losing proposition for the producers of both too (yes, even the ‘best’ winners and expensive light producers that comply fully with regulation ridiculous ad absurdum). It’s rather like taxation… too much is counterproductive. If Christmas lights become ludicrously expensive to keep that one potential Darwin-Award winner safe… people will find alternatives. LED’s run off 12 volt batteries. Or quietly decide that the regulators to stuff themselves in the orifice now available in a frozen supermarket turkey. The income, jobs and taxes the regulators (and their chums who probably paid some lobbyist to make sure their lights sold well, at premium prices) hoped to generate for themselves vanish… and such an attitude rapidly spreads. And yes. More Darwin-awardees, and even some who are not, die. In Zimbabwe where they made the rules impossible to survive, they now have a situation where disregard and distrust of regulations is the norm. No one obeys rules unless they think they’re being watched, or it suits them at the time. People who once would never, ever, deliberately flout even the silliest petty law, even if they knew they had no chance of being caught, had to, to survive. The black market, illegal currency trade, smuggling, and buying smuggled goods were all that kept starvation from winning. Everyone still alive in that country broke the law, with intent, regularly, largely with impunity, because there were too many to stop, and people knew that they had no choice.
Spin that attitude into publishing’s gate-keeping, or the various awards, and you actually see much same thing happening right now. The awards lose credibility, people buy self-published books. Once I automatically bought a Hugo or Nebula winner. Now I automatically don’t. Publishers once held automatic loyalty, and were the imprimatur of quality. Self-pubbed books were to be scorned. Only, if you stop publishing much I’d (and many others) like to read, and those pesky self-pubs are, well it could just end up the other way around. And if you somehow managed to shut self-publishing down, look to the death of the novel reading (as bounds get narrower) and professional writing (as the rewards get smaller still).
The short-term gains are not worth very much. That should be obvious to even the stupidest observer. That didn’t stop the dumb bunnies in their anti-sad-puppies campaign this last year. It hasn’t stopped most of traditional publishing outside of Baen going on down the same course they’ve been losing readers on for a generation. It won’t stop nanny calling for more and more Grinch regulations, even if she fails on this attempt.
Because it’s about control (and possibly short term reward and money). This is how they work. This is the only way they know. They cannot see otherwise.
In the meanwhile, we’re going to continue working around them.
We know we can!
And in the New Year I resolve I will.