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The surest way to learn

I was rather moved by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's public service message regarding seat belts. It's the kind of message that really hits home: "I should be dead."

He's damned right. By all rights, he should be dead.

At the same time, I learn that the push for a mandatory seat belt law here in New Hampshire (the only state without one for adults) has suffered a hefty setback, and appears dead for this session.

Governor Corzine is a perfect symbol of why I oppose mandatory seat belt laws. Here is the GOVERNOR of a state with a very strong seat belt law who, it is reported, routinely flouted it. At the time of his crash, he was sitting right next to a state trooper -- a law enforcement officer who, no doubt, has written plenty of no-seat-belt tickets in his career -- and still he didn't buckle up. For whatever reasons -- vanity, a sense of indestructibility, arrogance, confidence in his driver, carelessness, the moon moving into the House of Scorpio -- Corzine did not obey the laws of Man and for years escaped unpunished.

But there are other laws. Laws of Nature. Laws of God. Laws of probability. Laws of physics.

Those are the laws that he attempted to break, and he paid the price.

In his own words, he nearly paid the ultimate price.

And he'll be paying that price for a very, very long time.

The law, in my opinion, has very little place in "protecting us from ourselves." From preventing us from making poor decisions that don't directly affect others. That should be solely the responsibility of ourselves, and those we grant say in our lives.

Not some lawmakers, some bureaucrats, some officious officials elsewhere indulging their nanny-state mentalities.

There is an argument that laws should affect "social costs" of our decisions, the price we inflict on society for our decisions. In the case of seat belts, the medical expenses incurred by the unbelted is the most frequent tool.

That is a very slippery slope. It's a facile argument, but it's too easily countered. If we're going to put that kind of restriction on seat belt use, why not put it on tobacco? Smokers cost us a lot in health care, too.

How about alcohol? Setting aside alcoholism, loss of productivity, the havoc wreaked on families, and other factors, just drunk driving alone racks up a huge toll every year. Why not ban that again -- this time, in the name of "social costs?"

Fatty foods? They're already under assault, with cities banning trans fats in the name of "the public health."

The crux of the pro-seat-belt argument, it seems to me, is "help us, Big Nanny Government! We're too stupid or stubborn or ignorant to do what we know we should, so we want you to make us -- and everyone else -- do what we ought to!"

There are valid arguments for not wearing a seat belt. I knew a very short person who knew that if she got into the right kind of crash, she was dead. Thanks to mandatory seat belts and mandatory air bags, she -- and other persons of her stature -- were virtually guaranteed to have their necks broken when their seat belts held them in the perfect position and the air bags went off right under their chins.

I, personally, am a seat belt militant. I buckle up when I'm backing out of a garage. If you ride with me, you buckle up, too, or get your ass out of my car.

But that's my choice, made because I might be an idiot on some things, seat belts are not one of them.


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Comments (17)

I'm with you on adults Jay.... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

I'm with you on adults Jay. I do think that rules should be enforced for kids up to a certain age or size, although not being an engineer I will let others figure out what those should be. My take is that kids should not have to pay for the negligence of their parents or guardians.

I even look for other drivers who aren't belted and encourage them to buckle up. It's worked a few times, and I rest a little easier knowing it did. But mandatory seatbelt laws for adults? No. This nannyism has to stop somewhere, or else it leads to full blown communism, where you can't even decide what career you might want to try.

I also agree. I've been in... (Below threshold)
wolfwalker:

I also agree. I've been in two car accidents in my life. In both cases I could have been hurt -- one minor, the other major. I wasn't actually injured in either one. In both cases it was only because I was wearing a seatbelt.

But I still oppose mandatory seatbelt laws for adults. It's my right to be stupid if I want to -- and my responsibility to live with the consequences. It can be argued that a big chunk of our social ills right now come from the fact that we don't let people suffer the consequences of their mistakes anymore.

Corzine took a step toward redemption with this ad. And he was right: he has to live with the consequences of his stupidity, but we don't.

I both agree and disagree w... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

I both agree and disagree with your position. I agree that the government should not regulate something that doesn't directly affect other people. However, injuries from non-use of seat belts do indirectly affect others. For those people who are uninsured, the taxpayer must pick up the tab for their injuries from accidents. While many of those injuries would not be avoided through the use of seat belts, some may. Every tax dollar spent on paying for those injuries comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers.

People with insurance sure as well. As claims rise, so do premiums. The argument is that only the cutmoers making the claim should see their rates rise is not totally true. When an insurance company pays out $50,000 because of an accident, they can't collect that same amount in premiums from the insured. That risk is spread over all the customers. If any portion of that claim could have been avoided by wearing a seat belt, then I have no problem with such laws.

I think it should be handled in the same way that the Army handled it over 20 years ago. When seat belts aws started coming into fashion, the Army had an easy solution. They passed a regulation that said that any soldier involved in an accident who was found to have not been wwearing his seat belt was automatically determined to be "not line-of-duty." (All incidents that occur in the military, whether on post or off, are considered "line-of-duty" unless otherwise proven.) With an NLOD determination, the soldier was not eligible for medical benefits (or life insurance benefits in the event of death) regardless of the circumstances. knowing that they were potentially on the hook for medical bills amde soldierd more than happy to wear seat belts.

The most interesting thing ... (Below threshold)
Senor Cardgage:

The most interesting thing about this item is the trackback from a Japanese website that sells post-partum support undergarments. Clearly, we are seeing a global mandate for restraint.

Editor's note: spammed trackback deleted. Thanks, Senor.

I am against all legislatio... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

I am against all legislation that takes personal responsabilities and criminalizes it.

Socialism is but a step or two behind legislation that tells you how society wants you to behave.

Libs believe in killing b... (Below threshold)
Gianni:

Libs believe in killing babies, over a MILLION ANNUALLY, but feel the need to ban foie gras in Chicago.

Dont they claim to be 'pro choice'??

My main argument for FORCIN... (Below threshold)
Craig:

My main argument for FORCING people to wear seatbelts, is that those people become lethal objects to the other people in the car who choose to where seatbelts.

Say you're in a car with 5 people, and one of the people in the back isn't wearing a seatbelt, and you roll the car. His head is going to collide with at least 2 other people's heads before the car stops rolling. Not only does he stupidly kill himself, but he kills 2 other people in the process.

Then, Craig, it's the drive... (Below threshold)

Then, Craig, it's the driver's fault for not controlling his passengers. Just like with booze and drugs, the driver is considered responsible for what goes on in the car. As I said, if you ride with me, you buckle up or you walk. My car, my responsibility, my rules.

J.


The reason for seat belts i... (Below threshold)
VagaBond:

The reason for seat belts is a powerful insurance lobby who got this ridiculous law on the books. By mandating seat belt use, insurances companies got themselves a tidy profit because it tipped the mortality tables in their favor with no increase in premium (which people complain about). They really flew under the radar on this one.

First they came for your yo... (Below threshold)
Mikey:

First they came for your your ballons, I never used ballons and I don't eat them (like some birds do) so i said nothing. Then they came for the oil used in french fries because it was bad for you and I still said nothing because I didn't like french fries. Then they came for the smokers, and because I don't smoke, I said nothing. Then they came for our seatbelts, and because I always wear my belts, I said nothing. Next up, helmets, CCW permits and then for your own good, state sales and income taxes.. Remember it's all for your own good. Trust us, we're from the democrat party and we're here to take care of you.

Your right to be stupid end... (Below threshold)

Your right to be stupid ends at the moment you expect me to pay for your stupidity.

If we can leave the unbuckled on the side of the road to die after their accident, then, fine: it's their "right."

If they are going to use an ambulance which might be needed for an innocent victim, ask taxpayers to cover their medical bills, cause insurance rates to rise, etc., then they are no longer "only affecting themselves," they are endangering my life and costing me money.

I support and applaud those who assert their independence - right up until the time they begin picking my pocket to pay for their play.

There's a way we can have t... (Below threshold)
Eric:

There's a way we can have the best of both worlds. I think you should be a able to forgo the seatbelt if you can prove you have medical insurance that covers you in the event of a crash.

Same goes for motorcycle helmets. Maybe some kind of sticker that goes on the license plate. That way cops would know who's taking responsibility for their actions and who needs to be mothered by the state.

Seatbelt posts: 3.... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Seatbelt posts: 3.

Monica Goodling posts: 0?

Let me rephrase that for yo... (Below threshold)

Let me rephrase that for you, jp2.

Posts I have written about matters that interest me: 2700+.

Posts I have written about matters that don't: considerably less than 1%.

Offers to write about specific matters for appropriate compensation: 7+, at last count.

I care about seat belt laws because they are a readily-accessible touchstone for people: do they trust folks to act sensibly and responsibly, living with the consequences of wrong choices, or do they prefer to have the government control even this tiny aspect of their lives?

On the other hand, the trials and tribulations of mid-level bureaucrats... not so much.

J.

So was there really a culpa... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

So was there really a culpable "special needs" person or not, who drove "in the way" (or whatever)?
Or was it a butt-licking cop in Bullitt mode?
*the state driver that couldn't drive straight*
FUNNY!

Imagine if I told you I'd m... (Below threshold)
scott:

Imagine if I told you I'd make sure you never went without food or medical care, but you couldn't eat or do anything I deem unhealthy. And because I care about you so much and wouldn't dream of not letting you eat or have medical care, you have to accept my offer, or pay hefty fines and/or go to jail.

But it's only because I'm a nice, caring person.

jp2, Monica detailed McNult... (Below threshold)
kim:

jp2, Monica detailed McNulty's perjury. Gonzales and Bush are on to Schumer. Keep the faith.

When a person is at high velocity he is a hazard to people not at the same velocity and direction. If he does not ameliorate, or abate that hazard, he is liable for torts.
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