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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's The Little Things...

I remember when seat-belt laws were first being discussed, and the howls of outrage about the government sticking its nose where it doesn't belong. I whole-heartedly concur. These days most states have annual "Click-it or Ticket" campaigns [aka: fund raisers] where they "crack" down on those dangerous non-seat belt wearers. Maryland even provided it's police with night-vision goggles so they could fund raise protect us 24 hours a day.

Now this is one of those occasions where a conservative/libertarian comes off seeming a little "mean." We don't "care" about people. Why? Because we actually expect people to take personal responsibility for their actions. If they choose not to wear a seat-belt - they've no one to blame for the consequences but themselves. That sort of thinking doesn't go over well these days. The government is supposed to take care of us. The government is supposed to protect us from our selves. The government. Dr. Walter E. Williams asks where does it end?
"Mr. Secretary: This is an example of the disgusting abuse of state power. Each of us owns himself, and it follows that we should have the liberty to take risks with our own lives but not that of others. That means it's a legitimate use of state power to mandate that cars have working brakes because if my car has poorly functioning brakes, I risk the lives of others and I have no right to do so. If I don't wear a seatbelt I risk my own life, which is well within my rights. As to your statement 'Lack of safety belt use is a growing public health issue that . . . also costs us all billions of dollars every year,' that's not a problem of liberty. It's a problem of socialism. No human should be coerced by the state to bear the medical expense, or any other expense, for his fellow man. In other words, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another is morally offensive." {snip}

If we accept the notion that government ought to protect us from ourselves, we're on a steep slippery slope. Obesity is a major contributor to hypertension, coronary disease and diabetes, and leads not only to many premature deaths but billions of dollars in health care costs. Should government enforce, depending on a person's height, sex and age, a daily 1,400 to 2,000-calorie intake limit? There's absolutely no dietary reason to add salt to our meals. High salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, which can then lead to stroke, heart attack, osteoporosis and asthma. Should government outlaw adding salt to meals? While you might think that these government mandates would never happen, be advised that there are busybody groups currently pushing for government mandates on how much and what we can eat.
Dr. Williams, like me, wears a seat belt of course. Not because the Nanny State tells us too, but because we're intelligent enough to understand it's a damn good idea. As John Stuart Mill said, "... the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." Anything more than that creates a government that is more dangerous than not wearing a seat belt. Perhaps the ones who need to be "buckled up" are the bureaucrats.

3 comments:

ThatGayConservative 5/25/2006 06:33:00 AM  

I understand your point. However, the main, and unfortunate, point is that the cost of the irrisponsible and/or the stupid is passed on to us.
Dying in a car crash ain't free. Also, I can tell you that cleaning up the irrisponsible and/or stupid off of the pavement or an oak tree ain't fun. That costs money too, BTW.

samrocha 5/25/2006 02:05:00 PM  

I just posted a great quote by JS Mill on conservatism… Love your blog by the way I got here on a blog search… Come on over to www.debaterelatepontificate.blogspot.com sometime I’d love to add someone like you to our dialogues…

Willwng 5/25/2006 02:09:00 PM  

What next? A No Hiding Your Lima Beans Under Your Mashed Potatoes law? Then, a couple years later, a Clean Plate law?

"...Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere."

-- T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

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