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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, October 25, 1999

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

Personal responsibility: Kudos to Carnival Corp.

Recently, a three-year-old boy became separated from a group of hikers in Colorado’s Poudre Canyon. Now, chances of finding the boy alive are gone. This tragedy happened because supposedly responsible adults failed to establish some rules. Here are two simple rules that could have avoided the loss of that unfortunate little boy:

Rule one: a particular adult should be been assigned to be responsible for each child. In the case of adults, the buddy system should always be used.

Rule two: an inexpensive whistle should be placed around the necks of children so they can whistle for help if the supervisory system breaks down and they become lost or need help.

Unfortunately, ever since the 1960s, the tendency is to make as few rules as possible and to not follow the rules that do exist. This reflects a growing and alarming trend against the acceptance of personal responsibility for almost anything.

Life-long smokers who get lung cancer sue tobacco companies for manufacturing cigarettes even though it was the personal decision of the smoker to take up the dangerous habit.

Shooting victims or their families sue manufacturers of firearms when the actual cause of their harm was another human being and not the inanimate gun.

No rational person could believe that cigarettes jump up out of their packs and force their way between the lips of smokers. Nor is it rational to think a gun wakes up one day and says: I think I’ll shoot someone.

Unfortunately, two historically sound systems have been twisted in recent years so they now feed the notion that no one must be responsible for their own actions or have to pay for them. They are: trial by jury and insurance.

No one questions the wisdom of life, accident and health insurance. Those in the insurance pool pay a relatively small amount each month or year in the hope they will never have a valid reason to make a claim against the money in the pool. The unfortunate few who have valid claims benefit from funds paid in by the fortunate majority.

Having a jury of one’s peers determine whether or not one has been wronged was a sound idea. But, in recent years clever tort lawyers, despite admonitions by judges not to do so, have figured out ways to plant the notion in the minds of jurors that big awards will probably be paid by insurance companies. This happens all too often in cases where the plaintiff’s own foolishness is the cause of his or her injury or incapacitation.

So, when a major corporation takes a firm stand against a particular behavior and then has the testicular fortitude to back it up, such action deserves some publicity.

Based on consumer demand, the Carnival Corporation decided to designate one of its 13 ships, the M/S Paradise, as totally non-smoking. Non-smokers responded so well that additional non-smoking ships are planned and all six ships of the Renaissance Cruise Line are completely non-smoking.

Before boarding, passengers on the Paradise must sign an agreement acknowledging they will be set ashore and must pay their own way home if they smoke on board.

So far this year, nine passengers have been put ashore for sneaking cigarettes. Six were thrown off in St. Thomas for sneaking smokes, two were given the heave-ho in San Juan and one was taken down the gangway in Nassau. How they got home was up to them. Moreover, Carnival Corporation is going to charge future offenders a “fumigation fee” of $250 dollars.

Some were caught smoking out on deck late at night. Others were caught in their cabins. How refreshing to see a business set some rules and insist that they are followed.

Some may find this harsh. But Carnival is to be commended for sticking up for the rights of the passengers who paid good money in return for a promised smoke-free voyage. Kudos to Carnival.

William Hamilton is a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today.

©1999-2023. American Press Syndicate.

Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 2001
Granby, CO 80446


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