A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

11 December 2006

Howling MADD

I don't much like MADD.
I know, I know, it's like being against mothers themselves.

To be against an organization whose goal is allegedly to stop the carnage caused by drunken drivers every year is surely to be the type of person who crushes puppies for fun and profit, no? But that's only if you believe that that's what MADD is for.

And it's not. It is becoming increasingly clear that MADD is a charity benefiting, primarily, MADD and its associated lobbyists, lawyers, and PR firms.

Documents, in part pried from the fingers of Andrew Murie (who it seems is earning for his work as MADD Chief Executive Officer something above $70,000 a year), have revealed that from every dollar put into MADD's coffers by trusting donors, roughly 19¢ goes to that laudable goal. The rest is spent on raising more money--presumably increasing the number of 19¢ given out.

I was indoctrinated in and by MADD when I underwent my Young Drivers of Canada training. I believe in their declared mission and I still do. But lately they've become preachy and prescriptive. Instead of trying to enlist the next generation of the Canadian driving public they have been campaigning to reduce the allowable blood-alcohol content for drivers to zero.

We have a legal blood alcohol concentration limit because the safety engineers felt 0.08 BAC is probably okay for most people; Because it was felt neccessary to draw an enforceable line while allowing people the freedom to have a few beers away from their homes; And because MADD favours an allowable BAC of 0.08 (or lower).

Part of the problem is that MADD has been too successful. Until 1982 no-one really thought much about the risks of drinking and driving. Now most people at least pay lip service to the idea that drinking and driving kills. But having raised public awareness and having gotten near-100-percent buy-in from the public--that is, having succeeded at their primary mission--what's an organization to do?

The answer was: become an anti-drinking organization. In their newfound role as nouveau-prohibitionists they managed to raise the drinking age across the states to a ludicrous new high--21. In the land that actually enacted and abandoned full federal prohibition of booze--if you live in the US did you have a commemorative drink on the 5th?--they have campaigned for increased booze taxes, limiting the hours of alcohol-selling business, and just lately tried to push for an ingnition interlock system which would ask for a random breath sample and shut down your car (possibly on the highway) if you blew over the legal limit--for everybody.

This is a risk with any organization. A sort of mission creep, a search for new worlds to conquer. MADD has followed that road straight to hell.

The greatest difficulty in the campaign against drunk drivers is that like any individual responsibility, it cannot be legislated. All we as a society can do is condemn the wrong choices.

Like the choice MADD has made to push beyond their original mandate.

A little full disclosure: I have driven plastered. More than once. I have in fact driven in a condtion that probably made me unfit to walk. The last time was probably about six or eight years ago. I feel this doesn't affect my attitude, but my Avid Fans might feel differently.


At 12:55 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people should take a drinking and driving examination to see how much they can drink before they are impaired. A man weighing 250 pounds, for example, could probably down a six-pack of Molsons before getting a buzz. An anorexic person, meanwhile, need only sniff a cork and whammo!

I'm mad at MADD for the exact reasons you stated, METROMAN.


At 9:28 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

All large organizations come to corruption eventually. The UN, the Catholic church, all have had their problems--the United States government is still writhing like a snake with a broken ethics package and ours isn't far behind.

MADD needs a thorough cleansing. Perhaps once that's done they'll stop trying to shove prohibition back into civil life and get on with teaching people how to get pissed safely.

At 8:05 a.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

MADD is about as bad as the United Way, back when the executive director was keeping a 14 year old mistress on the donors' dimes. They actually count fundraising as "Charitable activity" and are facing criminal charges and de-listing for it. Time will tell what happens with that.

If the wee install-in-car breathalyzers worked, they'd be a great idea, but alas they do not.

At 10:54 p.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

They've just announced they're suspending fundraising pending an internal investigation...which will, of course, be paid for out of donations. Niiiiiiiice.

At 3:28 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

Thereby reducing the number of 19¢ that go into their main mission. Delightful.


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