We went to see the most enjoyable Man of Steel yesterday. There was, as expected, much destruction of property and risking of innocent lives while protecting innocent lives and property. However, it is not just superheroic powers that risk causing the issues they seek to avoid; even seemingly benign powers can lead to serious consequences.
Earlier in the month there was a Daily Prompt about adding one new law; my immediate thought was that it is not a lack of laws but a lack of compliance that causes issues. Sometimes adding a new law can even increase the number of issues because it makes a situation more complex. This reminded me of my, at first glance, humorous answer to the pub question Which minor super power do you want?
For many years of avoiding being run over by cars turning without signalling, not turning after signalling, and other such breaches of the law I hanker for the ability to make people’s driving obey their signals. Shedding my secret identity I would become the Compliance Officer, ever ready for the call to signal.
However, were I to have the power I would struggle with the implications more than any comic hero.
At first making a car that does not signal continue along the main road seems inoffensive. Until you consider the passengers: if someone is driving you somewhere should you suffer because they did not signal? Then there are mechanical faults: if a signal fails because a mechanic did not notice a fault, or because a manufacturer ships a substandard part, should the driver be penalised?
The only way I could think to make the power fair enough to be a real alternative to just not trusting indicators would be to introduce a complex method of transferring the cost of overcoming all the consequences to those responsible. Suddenly my simple power that makes people obey their indicators has become a web of power across time and space more complex than the concept of karma but much less generally applicable.
My conclusion is that the best superpower for me might be to have slightly less concern for equity, but that is a power no-one focused on consequences would use.
My only hope is to be bitten by a radioactive extreme sportsman.