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The downside of living in a blue state

Earlier today, I wrote about one nice thing that the newly Democratically-controlled state government here in New Hampshire is doing. In the interest of fair play, now I need to bring up one of their dumber ideas -- one I've decried again and again.

They want to institute a mandatory seat belt law.

Last week, by a narrow vote, our House passed a bill requiring everyone in a motor vehicle to wear their seat belt.

Now, New Hampshire already has some of the toughest seat belt laws in the nation -- for those under 18. Prior to becoming a legal adult, you better be buckled in, strapped in, or SuperGlued in -- or the driver gets nailed with a hefty fine.

Once you're over that magic number, though, you're on your own.

Let me get one thing perfectly straight: I wear my seat belt every time. I put it on as a matter of habit. I've been known to buckle up to back out of a garage, when I'll have to get back out to close the door seconds later. And if you ride with me, you buckle up, too. Period. My car, my rules.

But I'll be damned if I'll go along with the state enforcing that bit of common sense.

A long time ago, I coined the phrase "applied Darwinism." (I found out later it had been used by others before me, but I came up with it on my own.) The notion is that some people are just too damned stupid to be encouraged to pass along their genes, so if they want to be self-destructive idiots, it's our duty to our species to let them.

Seat belts are a perfect example for this. There are very, very, very few circumstances where an individual is better off not wearing a seat belt. In pretty much any situation, you're better off buckled in and secured. Only a moron (or someone with seriously abnormal physiology) would not be better off playing the odds and buckling up.

But foremost among our rights is the right to be an idiot. To do stupid things. To ignore advice and common sense and sanity and put ourselves at risk of death or injury.

Because that's how we learn. Those who skip wearing their belts and end up in accidents will, I hope, learn that they were stupid for not buckling up, and start doing so. And those who don't learn that lesson (by not surviving their accident) will, at least, provide good examples to others similarly inclined.

Likewise with motorcycle helmets. We don't have a helmet law for adults, either. Nor should we.

And don't hand me that garbage about the "social costs" of caring for those people who get injured by not wearing that seat belt. That's a crap argument. By that principle, we're long overdue to ban tobacco, alcohol, and certain "extreme" activities like hang gliding, skydiving, and bungee jumping.

Hell, winter's winding down (I hope) here in New Hampshire. Why not a helmet law for skiiers? Why not ban skiing entirely? Apart from bringing some rough justice to pedophile Michael Kennedy, what has that ever done to benefit society?

In Massachusetts (as usual), we have a perfect example of how bad this is. They had no seat belt law for years, despite many best efforts. Finally, they got it passed, promising it would not be a "primary offense" -- meaning that the police couldn't pull you over for just that one. Then they made it a primary offense, but promised it wouldn't be a "surchargeable offense," meaning it wouldn't end up costing you on your insurance. Then they came back and tried to make it a surchargeable offense -- I've lost track of where the fight stands today.

P. J. O'Rourke, in "Parliament Of Whores," put it best: "Giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenager." The best you can hope for is that the results will be spectacularly entertaining.

It's amazing how many laws proposed these days boil down to people saying "I ought to do this, but I'm too stupid or stubborn to do it on my own, so I want the state to make me -- and everyone else -- do it." I, for one, and sick and tired of people using the government to compensate for their own weaknesses and failings, and treating the rest of us as if we're as stupid and shallow and feeble as they are.


Comments (33)

I agree, the state does not... (Below threshold)
914:

I agree, the state does not need to mandate this..the only reason they are is to raise more revenue not out of concern for drivers safety?

Otherwise what does a fine of say 110.00 have to do with You choosing not to buckle up? and why would We give more money to the state for taking away more freedoms?

Just gullible I guess.

It's true you have a right ... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

It's true you have a right to be an idiot...Until you get behind the wheel of a 1000 lb + projectile. Driving on public roads is a licensed activity for VERY good reason, and you subject yourself to whatever regulations they choose to impose upon you. Why? Because driving on a public road is NOT a right.

An unseated belted person i... (Below threshold)
kim:

An unseated belted person is about twice as dangerous to the other occupants of the car in an accident as one who is not. This law protects the other passengers.

Hey wait, I'm a libertarian.
==================================

In Michigan, they started w... (Below threshold)
Robert the Original:

In Michigan, they started with a helmet law, and then added seat belts. Then they made seat belts a primary violation, then they added a "Driver's Responsibility Fee".

DRF's add between $ 200.00 - $ 2,000.00 to most tickets - purely to add money to the State budget.

Now the State Police work overtime writing tickets to balance the budget. They set up nets with 50 cars or motorcycles to stop almost everyone on any possible violation. Burned out taillight? Ticket, fine, DRF - the works.

They are known to sit at subdivision exit points and freeway onramps looking for people who have yet to put the seat belt on. That's right, looking for seat belt violations - my how far we've come.

When is comes to behavior modification rules, Michigan is an equal opportunity big brother. They are now in the process of adding new food and liquor rules, and more and more behavior fees and taxes.

After a 400% increase in the tax on smokes (bringing in Hezbollah), people started buying smokes online. Governor Granholm, D, sued the Internet companies and the Post Office and UPS to get names so she could send bills of thousands of dollars to old people on fixed incomes.

In short, if you drive or if you smoke or use alcohol - or even if you eat - your behavior is now subject to the rules of big brother, and enforcement is stepping up.

Whoa, proofreading is for s... (Below threshold)
kim:

Whoa, proofreading is for sissies. I mean that an unseatbelted occupant of a car is twice as dangerous to others as one who is seatbelted. They are a loose cannon within the car in an accident.
==========================

Hey Robert, when the govern... (Below threshold)
kim:

Hey Robert, when the government is tired of paying our drug bills for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and atherosclerosis, they will tell us to 'Work for Food'.
=========================

A few decades down the road... (Below threshold)
kim:

A few decades down the road that idea could be saving the government a trillion dollars a year. I want a patent.
===============================

It's survival of the fit... (Below threshold)
Rob LA Ca.:

It's survival of the fittest(smartest). So basically it's qiute obvious why the Blue states feel the need to make all these laws. It's to keep their the Majority of their woters alive. Seatbelts and helmets have been the law here for years.

Sometimes I wonder what is more dangerous, an idiot with the priveledge to drive or and idiot with the right to vote.

Right,and We already pay fo... (Below threshold)
914:

Right,and We already pay for this "priveledge thru ever increasing gas taxes ,tab fees, liscense registration fees! I dont need more big brother looking out for our "theirs really" best interests.

"You choose to subject yourself to whatever regulations they impose upon you."

Interesting? this is not a Monarchy yet. ..I choose not to be subjected to increasingly oppressive taxation, hidden as driving violations and intended to gouge Me further for the state to squander on ever increasing beauracracies..

I'd give you partial credit... (Below threshold)
kim:

I'd give you partial credit, Robert, but I thought of that one several years ago when they shoved the Medicare Hook the Old Folks on Drugs Bill down our throats with out even a sip.
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Mercy me, such Michigander ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Mercy me, such Michigander amercements.
========================

It's true you have a rig... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

It's true you have a right to be an idiot...Until you get behind the wheel of a 1000 lb + projectile.

And wearing a seatbelt has exactly what to do with this? The driver of the other car wearing their seatbelt has no effect on your health in a car crash. It's not like mandating seatbelts is going to suddenly make idiots better drivers, they'll just be idiots less likely to die when they plow into someone.

Let's not forget that it is... (Below threshold)

Let's not forget that it is now illegal to be talking on a cell phone while in a crosswalk in NYC, not to mention their benighted abridgment of property rights with their Draconian smoking ban.

The list is endless and reflective of the left's insistence that we can achieve perfection on earth if we only allow the government a robust and intrusive role in our lives.

The commensurate reduction of individual freedoms and implied message that we have the capacity to work and pay our taxes but not the brains to handle a handgun, decide whether or not to smoke a cigarette or cigar, or drink in moderation, is truly noxious.

But centralized power compliments of the high priests of political hegemony trumps any quaint consideration such as those expressed in our Constitution or the Federalist Papers.

Welcome to our brave new world.

For lucid conservative commentary, check out my blog at:

www.clearcommentary.com

Philip Mella
ClearCommentary.com

Say Proggrressive, so I don... (Below threshold)
kim:

Say Proggrressive, so I don't mistake the meaning of the snarl on your face.
==================

Well, well, Wisbang (who vo... (Below threshold)
mim:

Well, well, Wisbang (who voted for Lynch and whoever else on the Dimmo side.) Now we live in mini-Mass or Massachusetts North. Not turning back now.

We'll be producing little mini-Mass(es) in our educational system, our government. The mess Massachusetts left behind and realized they couldn't afford, is exactly what they will produce in N.H.

The amazing thing -- it's happening so much faster. and Republicans, of course are caving.

Thanks, Wisbang. I enjoy your site, but some things you have backwards. You must be quite young. But hey, don't you release a helium balloon you know. That is now against the law.
Really important business takes place in Concord these days.

Just wait until they want to work for you full time. Yeh!

I personally don't care for me, but I sure am worried for my children.

Mim

Being in mASS. I don't wear... (Below threshold)
Knightbrigade:

Being in mASS. I don't wear my seat belt and will NEVER wear one. Not that I am going to beep my horn and wave at every cop I go by to make a point of it.
I agree 10000% that seat belts work and save lives, BUT
NO ONE, is going to TELL me what to do with MY body in MY vehicle.
Also, in mASS, it is still not surchargeable, and is still a secondary offense. Making it a primary offense failed by ONE or TWO votes thankfully!!
Some of the mandating LIBERALS must have been drunk that day....

And don't hand me that g... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

And don't hand me that garbage about the "social costs" of caring for those people who get injured by not wearing that seat belt. That's a crap argument. By that principle, we're long overdue to ban tobacco, alcohol, and certain "extreme" activities like hang gliding, skydiving, and bungee jumping.

Hell, winter's winding down (I hope) here in New Hampshire. Why not a helmet law for skiiers? Why not ban skiing entirely?

Look at the amount of people doing those other "risky activities" every day, and how many of them get injured, and compare those numbers to figures from traffic accidents. Not even close.

Even more importantly, think about how many of those other activities are being performed on public roadways. The people pay for the roads, so the people (via the gov't) set the rules for people who wish to use them. It isn't simply a matter of the social cost thing (which is not at all a trifling amount)

Tobacco and alchohol, on the other hand, are not subject to such and argument and boast a constituency of users far larger than the "I don't want to wear a seatbelt and/or none of the govt's business" crowd. People usually don't howl about laws that don't affect them, and politicians like passing nanny-ish legislation to look busy.

And on a side note, how man... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

And on a side note, how many illegal aliens do you think mooch off of our hospitals for free health care due to accidents skiing, bungie jumping, and sky diving? Or even regular uninsured types, for that matter?

The seat belt law is justif... (Below threshold)

The seat belt law is justified simply because one is more likely to avoid an accident if they are wearing their seat belt. If you lose control of the car, you are likely to be thrown out of your seat and about (or out of) the passenger compartment unless you are belted in. If you are belted in, you will be kept in your seat and be more likely to stabilize the car.

The seat belt law is not intended to protect the driver using the seat belt, but other drivers on the road. I believe that people can act like idiots all they want, so long as it does not hurt anyone else. You get into an accident with me because you're not using your seat belt, you're hurting me. So the law is justified.

A major point left out here... (Below threshold)
epador:

A major point left out here. If you are wearing a seat belt, you are more protected, less likely to be injured or injured seriously, and you won't act as a projectile to hurt others in the car. Now if society could be held not liable for medical care for them AND their victims, disability payments, support of survivors, etc., of those who "choose" to not wear their belt, have an accident, and are injured or die, then I feel there's not a great need for a seat belt law. But until then, I maintain IT IS APPROPRIATE to mandate such laws.

We're not protecting folks who don't wear the seat belt as much as we're trying to protect the rest of us from physical, emotional and economic violence they impose upon us. I bet Scrapiron has a thing or two to add about this as well. I am personally tired of reliving the images of folks I see splattered across pavement and property who might be alive had they worn a belt ( if I didn't throttle them for their actions, that is).

Why is there never a market... (Below threshold)
Curious:

Why is there never a market-based solution suggested? For example, if I knew my insurance companies (auto, medical or life) wouldn't pay a claim if I wasn't wearing my seat belt, I'd be a lot more likely to strap in. The nanny state forcing me to do it awakens the rebel (admittedly imprudent) in me.

When are they going to mand... (Below threshold)
914:

When are they going to mandate we wear helmets and body armor when We walk out of our house because We may be hit by a falling tree limb, rock,hailstone, drive by bullet or any number of possible deadly objects?

The absurdity continues and somehow it always involves money as the bottom line.

we have had that law in mic... (Below threshold)
Dave:

we have had that law in michigan since i began driving in the late 90's at least. I buckle up anyways, but if a police officer thinks he doesn't see your seat belt on you it gives him another reason to pull you over and nit pick about things hanging from the rear view mirror, chips in a windshield, etc...

Right now we are having problems with local governments passing cell phone laws. We shouldn't have cell phone bans while driving since the police can already pull someone over for being a reckless driver if they are driving erratic. same type of scenario.

Just to throw out another v... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

Just to throw out another viewpoint...

An argument I've heard lately that has me waffling on this issue is the cost of clean-up. I someone gets into an accident and gets splattered (sorry for the graphic stuff) across the road or falls off their motorcycle and leaves a trail of themselves down the road (I've unfortunately seen this in person) then the town incurs a cost to clean you up. I don't think this clean-up is necessarily something the government should pay for. If we're for smaller government and lower taxes, with people paying for their stupidity... maybe there should be an extra charge to mop up after people who don't take reasonable precautions to prevent these messes? As I said, I'm torn on the issue...especially charaging a family for dad winning a Darwin Award.

smurf435:Here let ... (Below threshold)
epador:

smurf435:

Here let me paint it plain and simple.

Dad rides a hog. He's a contractor, owns his own business and he has major medical but no life insurance. Mom's at home with three kids age 3-10. They're getting by.

Dad hits a deer, goes down on the highway and his brains are splattered across 100 feet of asphalt.

1) Scrappy shares nightmares with the smokies 'cause he's the first responder called by them and they all puke at the site.

2) Mom and the kids loose their income, house and medical insurance. They move into public housing and either qualify for Medicaid or don't, and have to subsist on charity.

3) We all foot the bill. For Dad's "choice" not to wear a helmet.

4) Libertarians continue to rail against government intrusion into our lives, but the multiple intrusions that "free choosers" who fail to use common sense or safety, and leave their bills for us to pay, march on unimpeded to suck our treasuries dry.

This isn't a liberal thing.... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

This isn't a liberal thing. I live in the reddest of the red states, our state legislature is 75-80% Republican, and this same law comes up every session. It hasn't passed yet, but it has come damn close. I don't really care, I buckle up, and so does anyone riding with me. I survived a rollover crash only because I was strapped. If you want to quibble about the gov. intruding in your life, why don't warrantless wiretaps and searches our president likes piss you off? Why is it seatbelts?

I blame the lawyers.... (Below threshold)
barry:

I blame the lawyers.

Every one is missing the po... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Every one is missing the point. In NH it seems the newly elected "party of the people" is interested in nothing more than controlling the people.

We've seen a flurry of legislation coving the 2nd Amendment, smoking in bars, boat licensing and registration, and now seatbelts.

This is not about any of the issues, as much as it is a broken political system, rising taxes, and a socialist agenda.

For all commenting matter-of-factly here, who do not live in NH, kindly butt out of our business. We don't need your "values" here.

Apparently there's at least... (Below threshold)
epador:

Apparently there's at least one xenophobe in NH.

epador:<... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

epador:


Dad rides a hog. He's a contractor, owns his own business and he has major medical but no life insurance. Mom's at home with three kids age 3-10. They're getting by.
Dad hits a deer, goes down on the highway and his brains are splattered across 100 feet of asphalt.
1) Scrappy shares nightmares with the smokies 'cause he's the first responder called by them and they all puke at the site.
2) Mom and the kids loose their income, house and medical insurance. They move into public housing and either qualify for Medicaid or don't, and have to subsist on charity.
3) We all foot the bill. For Dad's "choice" not to wear a helmet.
4) Libertarians continue to rail against government intrusion into our lives, but the multiple intrusions that "free choosers" who fail to use common sense or safety, and leave their bills for us to pay, march on unimpeded to suck our treasuries dry.

That's it in a nutshell. One bad decision provides the basis for many other bad decisions. If I'm forced to assume the risk of 'your' decisions (this is the generic 'you' - not anyone specific), then I should be able to place restriction on what decision you are permitted to make in order to limit my risks.

That is, once it's a given that I'm forced to pick up the tab for your health care or for caring for your widowed wife and fatherless children, I should have a say in what risks you're allowed to take.

The correct solution is that I shouldn't have to pick up the tab and you should have me dictating to you what risk you should be allowed to take - that's how a free society would handle the problems. Unfortunately, that's not how we (the U.S.) have handled it.

The 'Liberals' social programs were well intended but they provide ample basis for eroding of individual freedoms.

I omitted emphasis that I h... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

I omitted emphasis that I had intended above:
So I'll just summarize..

If your decision become my risks, then I dictate what you can and cannot do because at this point we're no longer free individuals but rather forced into some union by the state, where the risks and the decisions are shared.

_Mike_ has hit the nail on ... (Below threshold)
Eric:

_Mike_ has hit the nail on the head. Once society assumes the responsibility of taking care of people, society has an interest in controlling their behavior.

In California we have seat belt laws and motorcycle helmet laws. Neither law was sold to the public as a way to keep people from hurting themselves. No, we have those laws because we have other laws to force hospitals to take care of people who can't pay, and seatbelt/helmet laws will lower your emergency room bills! Most people don't ride motorcycles and do wear seatbelts, and it's always easier to put restictions on other people.

So it will go for drinking, smoking, rock climbing, fatty foods... eventually, all of these things will be either outright illegal or heavily discouraged. Because society, through the government, is expected to pick up the pieces when something goes wrong.

It's analogous to free spee... (Below threshold)
kim:

It's analogous to free speech; it's free until it is dangerous, as in yelling fire in a crowded venue. Risktakers enjoy the brain chemical rush, and that's fine, I suppose, until they serendipitously risk others. Little is absolutely free.
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