China punishment of the day (Biblical)

Drivers caught using high beams inappropriately will now be offered on-the-spot training about the dangers of such practices, according to a posting on the Shenzhen Traffic Police’s verified account with Weibo.

Specifically, headlight-happy drivers will be forced to stare straight ahead into the glaring headlights of a police van for a period of several minutes.

“You still dare to use your headlights carelessly?” the Traffic Police posting asks. “If so, then starting from now we’ll make you stare at our high beams for five minutes.”

There is also a 300 yuan ($49) fine.  The policy is popular in some quarters:

Still, most people reacted positively to the Shenzhen Traffic Police’s approach.

“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth! This punishment should be popularized. When can it be used to deal with red-light running or hit-and-run?” wrote another.

More people in The Middle Kingdom need to read Gary Becker.  The full story is here.


We had a sporty-type car that had fog lights. Every time the fog lights were on at night all the SUV drivers would flash their high beams at us condescendingly, not realizing the high beams sailed over the car because their low lights were already directly in our eyes.

>>"When can it be used to deal with red-light running or hit-and-run?”

Western queasiness towards corporal punishment confuses. Everyone's okay with prison, but corporal punishment is too much? Seems it could easily go the other way.

1) It's a cheap way to feel superior to other people.
2) The bad things that happen in prison can perceived as bad people doing bad things to other bad people, which means that law-abiding citizens are not responsible for them. "If only these animals stopped abusing each other". Corporal punishment is too direct.
3) A non-trivial proportion of inhabitants of Western countries have convinced themselves that prisons are 5-star hotels

It ought to be much cheaper to replace incarceration with the stocks and the whip, though in the U.S. that might result in litigation costs which would mitigate the savings. Also, ensuring the punishment is applied uniformly seems fraught with difficulty.

On the other hand, perhaps incarceration could be replaced by a "punishment drug". A friend of mine had a brother-in-law who was receiving psychotherapy. His psychiatrist had some connection with research being done at a university, and he was asked whether he would like to volunteer for an experimental drug therapy. He did, and he called up my friend and told him you've got to try this drug. He said it "makes it hurt to think". My friend tried it, and he said that's a perfect description of the drug. I don't know anything else about that drug, but it sounds like a drug with great possibilities for applications in areas that haven't been addressed by drugs before. I wish I knew what it was. It might be a good punishment drug. It might even be rehabilitative, in persons who have too many wrong thoughts, which I suppose was the intention in the psychotherapy application. Regimes that suppress political dissent could discharge many of their prisoners, treating them on a sort of "out-patient" basis.

I see a bright future for you in Communist America, comrade.

Wasn't funny the first hundred times and is, if anything, far less amusing now.

Find something else.

Why so serious?

A little to close to home?

It's upsetting to have one's totalitarian tendencies discussed.

Nah, it's just tired and unfunny.

Some of you are (too) easily amused.

In Soviet America, the joke gets you!

They can't all be 10s.

Maybe the approach is to keep lobbing out a bunch of 1s in the hope that their effective is cumulative rather than average.

No, this is serious. Thomas knows you are all communist Nazis. Exposed!

The Middle Kingdom is still working on Tocqueville - Old Regime and French Revolution and Smith - Theory of Moral Sentiments, not flame

I'm all for more creative punishment, and I'm overjoyed by the thought of a crackdown on high-beam abusers. That said, this particular punishment is going to have some unintended consequences as these drivers have their night vision ruined before being sent back out on the road.

Why is it that bureaucrats seem singularly incapable of thinking more than 1/2 a step ahead in any endeavor?

On the other hand, if they do it on the spot, it may be more effective than any punishment assigned by a court. Negative reinforcement is an effective learning paradigm, but its effectiveness is greatly reduced when the reinforcement is separated in time from the act. Instant punishment can be expected to be more effective.

How long does one have to stare into a headlight before it causes permanent vision impairment? My guess is, a very long time.

Americans lecturing Chinese on crime...

Right. The Chinese have nothing to learn about hurting people. Especially through their gov't. =/

The current government is far more humane than historical Chinese government. They don't do execution by slow slicing.

Though if it were put to a vote, I think the Chinese people would favor bringing back slow slicing for corrupt government officials, which might be one of the reasons that vote will never happen. The Chinese people seem to be very favorable to capital punishment -- sort of like Texas but more so.

I wonder what it means when government acts like a psychopathic serial killer's wet dream.

It's happened many times in many places.

Haha, unintentionally funny comment.

Is there a specific reading or paper from Gary Becker that you are referring to?

I'm guessing something related to this:

Thanks, Brosef, but I still don't see the Becker connection.


The innocent suffer when the guilty go unpunished.

I'm working on a new invention that will explode the headlamps of cars whose drivers insist on following or meeting me with their high beams. There's still a few bugs to work out as it blows up mine as well.

Zap the drivers, not the innocent head lamps! :-)

How bout a camera with a strong, tight flash. It annoys the other driver while documenting their high beam use.

Replace your side view mirrors with larger paraboloidal ones.

RE: "When can it be used to deal with red-light running"
Having an understanding of Nash Equilibrium it might not be safe to cross the road junction when the light is green because from the other side a similar believer might cross the junction when the light is red (while your side is green) :) :) This is especially true when there are too many red light crossings.

C'mon Tyler - what exactly about Gary Becker ought the Chinese understand better? What's the connection to Becker's work? As others have guessed it probably has something to do with his work on crime, but that is pretty broad. What specifically are you thinking about?

The cop swings a u-ey on a busy road, chases the car down, positively IDs them, pulls them over, and then...shines a light in their eyes.

I think it is not likely to happen and is more about the announcement.

I sense a lot of this kind of reality disconnect with China. Anyone else know what I mean?

"(Biblical)"? This is, of course, the antithesis of biblical, with it's central event being the whole "forgive them, they don't know what they are doing..." thing. (cf Girard)

Two Words: "Old Testament"

One word: hermeneutics.Or if you prefer, two words: narrative theology.

I agree with Michael Stack on this one ... if anything, economists of Gary Becker's ilk should read more Middle Kingdom!

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