Archive for December 29th, 2008

Which Are More Important: Breathalyzers or Slot Machines?

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I’m not sure if this is a sad commentary on our criminal justice system or on the values of society generally, but…the following is from a recent Washington Post comparison of Las Vegas slot machines and electronic voting machines.  I’ve taken the liberty of substituting breathalyzers for voting machines:


SOFTWARE

SLOT MACHINES:  State of Nevada has access to all software.  Illegal to use software that is not on file.

BREATHALYZERS:  Software is kept secret by manufacturers.  Neither the accused citizen nor the  government are permitted access.


SPOT-CHECKING

SLOT MACHINES:   State gaming inspectors show up unannounced at casinos to compare computer chips with those on file .  If there is a discrepancy, the machine is shut down and investigated.

BREATHALYZERS:  Software is kept secret by manufacturers.  Neither the accused citizen nor the  government are permitted access.


BACKGROUND SCRUTINY

SLOT MACHINES:  Manufacturers subjected to background checks.

BREATHALYZERS:  Manufacturers and manufacturing processes are not checked.


EQUIPMENT CERTIFICATION

SLOT MACHINES:  By a public agency at arm’s length from manufacturers.  Public questions invited.

BREATHALYZERS:  Generic models are approved by state government, based upon manufacturer-supplied specifications but without software information.  Individual machines are not certified.  Public questions are irrelevant.


HANDLING DISPUTES

SLOT MACHINES:  Casino must contact the Gaming Control Board, which has investigators on call around the clock.  They can open up machines to inspect internal mechanisms and records of recent gambling outcomes.

BREATHALYZERS:  No governmental agency exists for independently regulating breathalyzers or handling disputes concerning  accuracy. 


I guess that tells us a lot about our priorities.


(Thanks to Andre.)
                           

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