Thursday, October 20, 2005

Tuesday's post is full of woe

Well folks, this post is all about one of Moonflake's posts and the comment fest that ensued. You can check out the original post here. Because I didn't want to clutter Moonie's comments any more with an argument that she was totally disinterested in I decided to post it on my blog for further comment.

Well, here is it:


You seem to have horribly misrepresented the RAF amendments.

Ok I'll bite, lets see where?

Ok, so as far as I can tell you have a problem because you can't see anything on the site that supports the following sentence:

"Broken arms, legs and facial scarring will no longer be considered serious enough for the fund to pay out." from the original blog post.

Well because Moonie is a FRIEND of mine I'm going to assume that she actual has a reference for that statement and didn't just pull it out of her Haa-Haa! As far as I can tell that's the only thing you have a reference problem about, by the way, you weren't really all that clear about that.

From the StopTheBill site you link to:

Removes money for pain and suffering from almost all categories of injuries ... . Pain and suffering refers to emotional trauma suffered as the result of injury. The RAF will still pay out for the medical expenses required to treat the injury and will still pay out disability benefits.

OK great so nothings changed here right? Well not on the face of it, read on for more details.

Claiming for emotional stress is such a load of BS I'm happy to see it go.

Well glad you're altogether reasonable about this "debate". Yeah that's what you're doing, stating nothing but the facts, no unsubstantiated opinions here. I'm sure that if you were hit by a car and left paralysed you'd have absolutely no emotional distress right. You'd just go, "Oh thanks for paying my medical bills, and that disability allowance of R500 pm is really doing the trick for me. Oh never mind that I can't talk with out mechanical aid, and I shit my diapers all the time and need a nurse to change me and wipe my arse! Dignity, nah, that's overrated!"

Just to be fair I will explain that when I studied law you were not able to claim for emotional distress for a delictual offence anyway, because the cash value could not be determined. Admittedly that was eight or nine years ago and we do have a whole new constitution, so anyway. I always hated the idea of not being paid for emotional stress, I suppose it's because of a little emotion called compassion!

Limits loss of income to approximately R13 000 a month. Since everyone is paying similar amounts to the fund a limit like this seems completely sensible. A flat rate fund like the RAF can't possibly cover loss of income for arbitrary amounts and still remain within its budget.

Surprising little fact here, your above argument makes absolutely no sense what so ever! First of all the RAF is not a "flat rate fund", admittedly they get a certain fixed percentage of what gets spent on petrol, but if you use more petrol you contribute more to the fund. People do not pay similar rates to the fund. The rich capitalist pig, who by the way must be evil, that drives his German engineered luxury SUV 100km to work and back every day contributes a lot more to the fund than a beggar who uses public transport to get to his favourite spot every day, oh yeah I almost forgot: the poor beggar is obviously noble right?

Then consider the fact that the evil capitalist is probably supporting a wife and two point five children. When he is paralysed or killed what should they do? How will they pay for private school or late morning brunches with the other housewives. You see I feel that the people who have worked hard to get to where they are deserve not to have that taken away from them because of a hopped up taxi driver in an unroadworthy vehicle who doesn't even have a licence. Whether a claim is "arbitrary" or not is relative.

Removes your right to get your medical expenses back at the rates charged by private hospitals. No medical aid will pay out medical expenses at arbitrary rates. Even the most expensive Discovery plan will only cover you for 100-150% of the Medical Association rates - beyond that you're dipping into your medical savings account, i.e. your own pocket.

I'm afraid you seem to have totally missed the issue again, you must have been tired when lambasting poor Moonie otherwise you'd probably have picked this up. What a private medical aid will pay has absolutely nothing to do with how much the medical expenses have cost. If the fix you up charge was R400k then you are probably going to end up out of pocket. Why should the innocent victim have to bear these costs? The driver (the offending party) should have to pay them. If he can't afford these costs and has no insurance, this is what the RAF is for. It's a compulsory insurance against injuring someone. That's right, the insurance is not to cover your injury, it's to cover you injuring another party.

Also I'm glad you're happy with the level of service and expertise in public hospitals. Oh I didn't mention that you probably earn too much to qualify for public rates and will have to pay the full medical aid rates anyway. Oh, I suppose the doctors and hospitals are also fleecing you with those "arbitrary" costs. Like a said the question about whether or not a cost is arbitrary is dependant on the situation. You have claimed that these costs are inflated but you haven't given any evidence to support your claims.

Removes your right to recover your damages from the guilty party. This may seem odd at first, but the draft I found explained quite clearly why they feel this is necessary:

I'll answer these points individually

22.3 Leaving this common law right intact has the following disadvantages:

1. This right is of dubious value: it avails nothing if the wrongdoer is uninsured or has no means. The prudent road-user should therefore in any event have in place personal accident insurance to cover his own loss.

The RAF is a compulsory insurance paid by the road user, to protect the rights of other road users. It IS personal accident insurance that should pay for injuries that can not be recovered from the wrongdoer.

2. The right to sue (as victim) carries with it the risk of being sued (as wrongdoer). The prudent road-user should therefore in addition procure legal liability insurance as well, in order to protect his estate against a possibly crippling claim from a high-income person.

These two statements have no bearing on each other. This first one is basically a threat. It's like saying "be careful what you wish for...". You see the thing is that under our legal system If you cause a loss the person who suffers the loss has a right to civil litigation in order to recover that loss. If you are a wrongdoers then you open yourself up to a delictual claim. As far as I'm concerned this seems perfectly fair and there is no reason to change it. This is how the law and our constitution already work, this law would probably be judged unconstitutional by the constitutional court.

The second point in the above statement you should cover yourself for any accidental circumstances that are out of your control. This is a good point, however many South Africans are really poor and are much more interested in placing food on their table than paying insurance premiums. That is why there is a compulsory insurance built into the price of petrol.

3. Legal liability insurance is expensive and not readily available for meaningful amounts, especially in the case of public transport.

Hence a compulsory insurance built into the price of petrol. This is what the RAF is intended to do. How is this an argument against what moonie is saying, the way I read it this supports her view.

4. Legal liability insurance is not available for unlimited amounts. Cover as high as R5 million remains virtually meaningless in the face of a claim for R20 million or multiples thereof.

This point is really only a repeat of the one above, only with some arbitrary figures tacked onto the end. Again this just supports the fact that there should be a well administered, compulsory government insurance for accidents on the road. This argument is actually a "straw man" type fallacy, basically they are saying that because R20 million rand (or multiples thereof) would not be covered by R5 million insurance, nothing should be covered. I feel that if the R20 million (or multiples thereof) are justified expenses they should be covered.

22.4 Government therefore believes that the population at large would be better served if the common law right in this respect be abrogated. A similar situation exists in respect of injuries and diseases contracted in the course of employment (Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993).

They are right here, a similar situation does exist with act 130 of 1993. This act provides that employees can not sue their employers for injury incurred during the normal course of their work because they are able to claim these amounts from the Workman's Compensation Fund. The WCF is again a compulsory insurance paid by the employer to ensure that the employee's rights are protected.

There are a couple of minor exceptions however, while the fund will compensate am employee for any accident that occurs during the normal course of their work, they are able to claim from the employer if the accident was caused by negligence on behalf of the employer. Here the employee's rights are being protected.

Essentially, if you want more cover than the RAF provides, get medical and life insurances. The alternative is for every driver to get legal liability insurance for huge amounts.

I agree, the government can't be trusted to administer this fund, I don't trust the government with my or my family’s well being, that's why I have insurance for these circumstances. (btw the R3 million personal injury insurance I have costs me R2 per month). The point however is that there is already compulsory insurance that I pay whenever I buy petrol, in fact I pay almost as much for this insurance every time I fill my tank as I do for a whole year of my personal insurance. Seeing that I fill my tank about four times a month I pay about R910 a year for this insurance, or about thirty eight times as much per year as I do for my personal insurance. In view of those figures the RAF should cover any injury I cause to an innocent, and conversely any injury caused by a wrongdoer (who pays the same levy for each litre of fuel) to me or my family, or anybody else for that matter.

<><><>MORE H*<><><>

Whether or not the RAF is mismanaged is a separate issue to whether or not the bill should be stopped. Let's try stay on topic. Also, it's obvious that good management is better than bad and that fraud and corruption should be rooted out. Stating this doesn't make you case any stronger.
Well, you see, I feel you are wrong here, these are not separate issues, the one is the cause of the other. The mismanagement of the RAF is the reason for the bill, fix the cause and not the symptom.

The RAF does currently have problems with large pay outs to foreigners, high income earners and people suing for emotional trauma.

Did these people suffer loss? Are they less deserving of full compensation because they were better off than the average? Be very careful, this argument looks a lot like it might be classism. The argument that people who used to earn more don't deserve to have their full loss covered because they were once well off is just absurd. Remember that the people who are better off have probably worked very hard to get there. The gist of our common law, and constitution, is that if a person has suffered a loss they should be able to seek restitution from the offending party. If the offending party is unable to restore the previous position then they have no further recourse and would suffer. To prevent this kind of thing happening the government implemented a compulsory insurance levy on the price of fuel, to protect the injured parties rights.

Non-governmental medical aid and insurance companies have structures in place for dealing with the very same issues the bill addresses. Why would the government not need to put similar restrictions in place?

Well the government has not had to put these kind of restrictions in place before. The RAF has been successfully maintained for years, before huge losses have forced it to try and restrict compensation. The fact that less than half the money actually gets paid out in claims says something about the problem. Also I don't know if you saw the price comparison above, but the RAF is getting a hell of a lot more than my private insurance company!

It's probably also worthwhile noting that the average citizen you refer to doesn't earn more than R13000 per month, won't have the option of attending a private hospital and can't afford to initiate litigation.

So what, is an injured poor person more deserving than an injured affluent person? Be careful here we are all equal under the law. In my view the poor person deserves service and expertise that is as good as those offered to the affluent person in a private hospital. The fact that they are both in the same predicament does not mean that they should be reduced to the lowest common denominator. Send them both to private hospitals, and pay for it. Like I said the RAF is getting much more than my personal injury insurance, if they were managed as well as this private company I don't see any reason that they wouldn't be able to afford it.

Also, another organisation called Legal Aid will initiate litigation on behalf of those that can not afford it. Your tacit argument is that some people can't afford to sue wrongdoers so nobody should even be allowed to, we should just totally remove that constitutional right! It sounds rather silly when you put it like that doesn't it?

The right we have is to equality before the law. This does not include the right to arbitrary litigation. Careful reasoning is what debate is about, if you're going to abandon it, why bother arguing at all?

Again these two statements don't actually have any bearing on one another. We are all equal under the law, it one of our rights, but by no means the only one! Careful reasoning is what debate is all about, but I fail to see where Moonie abandoned it. In fact up to this point her arguments have been a lot more cogent and based in fact than yours. I suppose it is only her opinion that mismanagement and corruption are the cause of the RAF's financial difficulties, but on the face of it the evidence seems to bear the conclusion out. If you have any other points where you disagree I suggest you actually point out the text that offends.

"If a statement is false, that's the worst thing you can say about it." - Paul Graham

Nice quote, not really applicable, but nice!


What does it matter? Well, some people attempt to base their opinions on facts. Some people, when presented with evidence that they have stated something as fact which is not actually true, try to rectify the error, so that they do not wilfully perpetuate misinformation.

You are right, basing an opinion in fact is a good thing, I don't see where moonie has failed here. Again, specifics people!

Wilfully perpetuate misinformation?? wow this is getting personal. You're actually calling Moonflake a liar. That's not very cool, especially when you haven't even told us what you claim she is lying about. So far here are the facts:

* The RAF has been working for years

* There are a bunch of corruption claims against the RAF

* A significant portion of the cash generated for the RAF goes to "administration" as opposed to paying for legitimate claims

* The RAF is claiming poverty and trying to minimise its responsibility by altering the cover provided.

Moonflake's opinion (freely stated as an opinion and supported by the above incontrovertible facts)

* The reason for the poor state of the RAF is due to the corruption and mismanagement mentioned above

As she will freely admit this is her opinion, YOU claim that she is stating it as a fact. This is a devious little trick because when you call her a liar you call here reliability into question, this sets up better attacks later.

When you state your opinion in a public forum, people are going to disagree with you.

Well no, they might also agree with her. You see what you are doing here is implying that she is wrong, but because you do not actually reference her position you give her no option to defend her it.

If you "aren't interested in having a debate", then why respond? By doing so, you are perforce "having a debate".

How so exactly is "I don't want to have a debate" actually having a debate.? All moonflake is doing is being POLITE by responding. People deserve responses no matter how rude they are or how bad their arguments actually are. By stating that she realises that a respondent’s opinion differs from hers and that while the respondent is entitled to their opinion she is not changing hers she is not in fact participating in a debate.

You play the "I don't want to have a debate" card to attempt to have the last word in a discussion (usually, it seems, right after someone has brought forward an argument you can't adequately answer), so that you can "win" by default.

The point isn't to "win" by screaming the most loudly, or being the last man standing, or having the majority agree with you. The point is to determine what is true and what isn't - for some people, at least.

Preceding these two paragraphs was the set-up, here is the "play at the plate". So you've already attacked Moonflake's integrity and credibility, now you use a classic "Guilt by Association" fallacy to say "Moonflake sucks, therefore her opinion is wrong! Nice going.

<><><>AND AGAIN H*<><><>

Your claim that you have simply stated your opinion is untrue. You have also attempted to justify your opinion with statements that are false.

Again more specifics are required here. You've said it, so why not actually point out the offending prose?

Further, you have used this justification to encourage others to sign a petition.

What justification??? Moonflake stated her opinion and informed her readers of the action she took. She also urged those that felt the same to do likewise. If you do not feel likewise then don’t sign the petition.

I commented only so that your readers might be aware of this and have the option of making a more informed decision.

Well actually your comment was full of your opinions:

* "Claiming for emotional stress is such a load of BS I'm happy to see it go."
* "A flat rate fund like the RAF can't possibly cover loss of income for arbitrary amounts and still remain within its budget."
* "No medical aid will pay out medical expenses at arbitrary rates."
* "The prudent road-user should therefore in any event have in place personal accident insurance to cover his own loss."
* "Legal liability insurance is expensive and not readily available for meaningful amounts, especially in the case of public transport."
* "Essentially, if you want more cover than the RAF provides, get medical and life insurances."
* "The alternative is for every driver to get legal liability insurance for huge amounts."

These were all points of opinion, a mysterious "the draft I found" was your only reference, even then your points didn't really seem like quotes from the draft bill, more like opinions about the bill, if I'm wrong about this I'm sorry.

Implying that your commenters are nuts doesn't make anything they write less true or less valid.

No, their invalid points do a good enough job of that already. Remember that moonflake may have implied that some of the commentators are nuts, but in her defence they did rather rudely call her a bald faced liar, pointing out that they might be a few cards short of a deck is a totally natural response, in my opinion.




Dystopia said...

I invoke Godwin's Law: You are all nazis! Therefore I lose the argument and you can stop now.

moonflake said...

wow, schpat, i'm stunned. Thanks for the response on my behalf.

The only statement of mine that could possibly have been called false is the one you mentioned right at the start. Use of hyperbole may have incited this, as i stated that broken bones and scarring would not be sufficient for the fund to pay out. In fact, it's not sufficient for them to pay out to the same degree that they would for what is deemed a 'serious' injury. For a list of these you can see my blog, but facial scarring that disfigures you for life is not considered serious. No pain and suffering for you, even if you spend the rest of your life with people openly staring at you on the street. And you can't even sue the guilty party. For the government to do this to its own citizens is inexcusable.

d@vid said...

I rather suspect this was all a social experiment in internet argumentation, borne from a fiendish mind

more seriously, once you start arguing about debate tactics, the point is lost

(lucas, btw, apologises for not adding more bangs to his statement)

Synkronos said...

Wow, Patrick, I think this is the least unbiased clarification I have ever seen you post. As a caveat, I got sick of all the sarcasm after the first few paragraphs, so I can't argue actual contents with anyone who wants to.

Confluence said...

Before I respond to your criticism of my post, I would like to clarify that the post on my blog, to which d@vid has linked, is completely unrelated to this discussion. It was inspired by an argument with considerably less sane and educated people than any of you, which should be obvious from the kind of behaviour that it makes fun of. I don't have to explain this, but I would like to, out of politeness. And no, none of this has been a "social experiment"; I do not play stupid mind games with people.

You want me to explicitly state which statement of Moonflake's is demonstrably false? OK, here we go:

"You break an arm, a leg, and your face is scarred for life." (...)
"Does the Road Accident Fund pay out? NO."

I believe that this statement would be interpreted by any English-speaking person as implying that the RAF does not pay out for the medical costs associated with broken limbs or facial scarring, especially since the separate issue of paying out for emotional damage suffered is addressed in the next point.

This would naturally be alarming to just about anyone if it were true, but it is not - it isn't even what is claimed in the writeup supporting the petition. This is, however, presented as a supporting fact, not an opinion. Is that clear enough for everyone?

Me: When you state your opinion in a public forum, people are going to disagree with you.

You: Well no, they might also agree with her.

See, what you are doing here is bizarrely misinterpreting my statement. Perhaps I should again be more explicit. I meant to say "If you state your opinion in a public forum, it is to be expected that some people will disagree with you and say so", not "Clearly everybody is going to disagree with you because you are evidently wrong", as you seem to believe.

You: You see what you are doing here is implying that she is wrong, but because you do not actually reference her position you give her no option to defend her it.

I apologise profusely; I thought it was obvious from the prior comments which statement I found objectionable. I have just clarified what it was.

You: So you've already attacked Moonflake's integrity and credibility, now you use a classic "Guilt by Association" fallacy to say "Moonflake sucks, therefore her opinion is wrong! Nice going.

Ah, thank you for putting words in my mouth again. I was criticising the way Moonflake responds to dissenting opinions, on the basis of the exchanges of comments that I have read in her blog. This is an entirely separate issue to the facts surrounding the RAF, and the part where I say "Ha! I don't approve of the way you argue with people, therefore your opinion is wrong!" exists entirely in your mind. You know, it is possible to address multiple offshoots of a discussion in a single comment, without blending all of them into a single unified statement of "You suck!" or "You are totally right about everything!"

I disagree with many of Moonflake's opinions. I also agree with some of them. I don't think that I have been any more rude while disagreeing than she has been in the past.

I'm not going to defend H*'s original post here, since he is perfectly capable of doing that if he wants to, except to say that your entire counter-argument also seems to rest on accusing him of opinions that he has never expressed - namely, passing some kind of nebulous value judgement on the wealthy.

You have convoluted two very different issues: "Is it good for people to be reimbursed for their full loss of income, and emotional damages suffered, as a result of their involvement in road accidents?", and "Should it be the government's responsibility to reimburse these amounts?", which is more to the point.

I'll end with a thought experiment: A man causes a road accident by colliding with another vehicle. Two streets down, another man causes the exact same kind of accident by colliding with another vehicle. The first man collides with a department store clerk driving a beaten up old golf. The second man collides with the CEO of a multinational company driving a brand new BMW. Is the second man's crime more severe? If yes, why? If not, why should he be liable for a monetary punishment hundreds of times higher than that of the first man? Is it ethical for the law to force the second man into indentured servitude for the rest of his life so that he can repay his vast debt to the CEO? If not, should the responsibility for paying the debt fall to the government? If not, where should the money come from?

moonflake said...

Lets look at it another way. The clerk is horribly injured and does not have private insurance. Does he not have a right to bring the guilty party before court and seek some compensation?
Besides, the merit of the case is not my decision, or yours, or the government's. It's the decision of the judge who the case is brought before, who will examine the merits of the case and the means of the guilty, and come to a just decision that does not involve indentured servitude. It's the court's decision, on a case by case basis. It's not something you can apply a blanket generalisation to. Otherwise why are we employing judges and expecting them to make decisions based on their wealth of legal experience, when the public or the government could do their job for them?

Anonymous said...

Q: what's better than winning an argument on the internet?

A: not being retarded

moonflake said...

Q. What's worse than being retarded?

A. Being an anonymous coward.