Wearing seat belts saves lives, so therefore you should be forced to wear one, say defenders of this freedom-infringing statute.
You’re walking down the street and a police car races past, blue and red lights ablaze. Surprisingly, the police officer blocks your path, hops out and demands to see identification.
“What seems to be the problem, officer?” you ask.
“You were just at the McDonalds,” the officer responds.
“You ordered a cheeseburger and fries?”
“Sir, I’m afraid I’m going to have to take you in. According to our records, that was your third cheeseburger this week. Too many burgers are bad for you, and the government has laws against you engaging in behavior that might be harmful to yourself,” you’re told.
Such is the logic of the do-gooders who pass laws that say if you fail to wear your seat belt, police should be able to pull your car over and give you a citation. Wearing seat belts saves lives, so therefore you should be forced to wear one, say defenders of this freedom-infringing statute.
And now, under consideration for the next legislative session, comes a proposal to toughen Idaho’s seat belt law and let police pull you over if the only crime they spot is the crime of failing to buckle up. Those new police powers, of course, come with increased fines.
On our Facebook page, readers give the usual defense of nanny government ideas: “I do appreciate protecting me and my wallet from others’ stupidity. Where my wallet opens, the freedoms of idiots ends,” writes one.
The argument, further enumerated by another reader, is that hundreds of Idahoans each year end up in hospital emergency rooms because they failed to buckle up. Some of those expenses are then borne by ordinary taxpayers, and that’s the justification for extending seat belt laws and raising fines.
But taxpayers also face hefty costs from people who overeat. Indeed, a state Department of Health and Welfare study says a quarter of adult Idahoans were obese in 2009. The cost of obesity in Idaho, according to the government agency? $324 million.
Indeed, having just survived another Thanksgiving eat feast, I would estimate that hundreds of thousands of Idahoans participated in overeating over the last several days, and despite their continued and obvious self-inflicted assault on their bodies, these Idahoans intend once again to overindulge in turkey and ham and chips and sweets and commit more harm onto themselves at a multitude of Christmas and New Years parties. And yet the governor has yet to call the Legislature into special session.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
“They may be more likely to go to Heaven, yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will ... is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles and domestic animals.”
Free people should never allow themselves to be classed as such. Don’t buy, even for a moment, that the politicians’ need to “help” us will be satiated with an enhanced seat belt law and new police powers. It will only encourage them to seek the next big thing.