Thursday, May 25, 2006

Seatbelts, Personal Liberties, and Slippery Slopes

I read this yesterday.

"Virginia's secretary of transportation sent out a letter announcing the state's annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign May 22 through June 4. I responded to the secretary of transportation with my own letter that in part reads:
'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.'"

I'm tempted to just quote the whole thing, but I won't. You should go read it, though.

Do I wear my seatbelt? Yes, I do. Every single time I drive.

But I have a problem with seatbelt laws. I always have.

For the obvious reasons of course:

"Philosopher John Stuart Mill...said it best: 'That 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. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise.'"

But looking beyond that, it is offensive to me that the state would pretend they are hyper-concerned with my safety when the real reason behind seatbelt laws is revenue.

How do I know this? Because here in Texas, my husband was slapped with a $130 (!!!) fine for not wearing his seatbelt. But! Do we have a helmet law? No, we do not. So you can ride around upwards of 70 mph on a motorcycle with nothing protecting your head, but enclosed in your car behind an airbag is more dangerous somehow? Spare me.

"If we accept the notion that government ought to protect us from ourselves, we're on a steep slippery slope."

Amen to that. And if you simply cannot refrain from making laws to protect me from myself, at least have the decency and honesty (decency? honesty? what's that?) to not pretend you give a rat's ass about what happens to little old me, and come right out and say you want the money. We're all adults. I think we can take it.

(Awhile ago, I blogged about more this-is-the-reason-we're-giving-you-but-this-is-the-real-reason BS. You can find it here.)

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