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Seat Belt Laws Save Lives, Kill Liberties ^ | 1/27/03 | Bob Lonsberry

Posted on 01/27/2003 12:21:52 PM PST by shortstop

What do you think of seatbelt laws?

Are they a good idea, or a bad idea?

You know the ones I mean. They vary from state to state, but they’re basically alike. If you’re driving a car, and you don’t have a seat belt on, you can get a ticket.

Sometimes it’s just the driver, sometimes it’s everyone in the car.

You’ve heard the sob stories. They roll out some state trooper, or a paramedic, and have him tell you a heartbreaking story about how many accident scenes he’s been to, and how it breaks his heart to see the carnage, and how seatbelts are the only hope we have.

And we see how much the state loves us, passing laws to protect us, shielding us from our own stupidity.

And we’re grateful.

We see seatbelt laws as a sign of social progress, as proof we’re an enlightened society.

But are we right?

Are seatbelt laws a good idea?

The answer to that, surprisingly, has nothing to do with seatbelts.

Because there’s no question about that. If you don’t use a seatbelt, you are an idiot. The benefit and protection that come from seatbelts cannot be denied.

Buckle your seatbelt. Don’t start the car until you have, and until everyone else has as well.

But that’s not the point.

Seatbelt laws aren’t about seatbelts, they are about freedom. And the role of government.

The question isn’t, “Should you wear a seatbelt?” It is, “Can government force you to wear a seatbelt?’

And, in spite of what the state legislatures have done, the answer to the second question, in America, is clear. The answer is, “No.”

We are a free people. Our government, as envisioned in our founding documents, is small and weak. It is not meant to make every decision or to legislate in every area. It is not meant to run our lives.

And yet we have come to let it.

Piece by piece, inch by inch, American freedom has dwindled and dwindled.

We are the victims of tyranny in the name of compassion.

Slavery in the guise of protection.

Each benefit of government has come at the cost of a corresponding liberty.

We are safer, but we are less free.

And we have been robbed.

Because freedom is better than safety. Liberty more important than life, and self-reliance of greater worth than governmental paternalism.

We are a nation built on the belief that all power resides with the people. Government can only exercise the power it has been granted by the people. In America, the power of government was meant to be severely limited. In America, the government is to be the servant, not the master. In America, people are believed to be the best off when they are the most free, when they run their own lives and make their own decisions.

But our government treats us like children. It takes our liberty from us with hardly a second thought. It expands its power over us without restraint. It mandates by force of law in matters that are and should be entirely personal and private.

Like seatbelts.

Sure, the government says it is acting for our best good.

But, shouldn’t we decide as free individuals what is in our best good?

Doesn’t government’s desire to protect us from harm unavoidably separate us from God-given liberty?

Of course it does.

And yet we have taken it like sheep.

We have thanked and re-elected those legislators who have orchestrated our bondage. We have cooperated with the squandering of our national birthright. What others fought and died for, we have flushed down the toilet. Because we haven’t been smart enough to remember what this country is all about.


And every policy or decision of the government must pass a simple test: Does it diminish our individual liberty?

If it does, it must not be allowed. If it does, it is inherently unconstitutional. If it does, it is dangerously and unacceptably un-American.

We must be able to distinguish between what counts and what does not. We must not be confused by irrelevance. Like those sob stories the cops and insurance people tell about seatbelts.

They are beside the point.

Seatbelt laws aren’t about seatbelts.

They are about law, and the proper role of law.

And whether or not you wear a seatbelt is your business. It is not the government’s business. You are free to be stupid, and the government has no right to outlaw stupidity.

Seatbelt laws are velvet chains. We’re told they are for our own good, but they are nothing more than government oppression. They are Big Brother pretending to be our mommy.

And one more example of how we have come to accept what earlier generations of Americans would have fought to the death to resist.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: aaaaaairball; aaaaairball; aaaairball; aaairball; copernicus5; lonsberry; seatbeltlaws; snnnnnnore; zzzzzzzzz
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To: shortstop
Fine. If people don't want to wear their seatbelts, go for it. However, let them pay for their medical bills out of theirs and their families' pockets. No insurance. No hospital "eating the costs". No government assistance. Etc....
41 posted on 01/27/2003 1:01:58 PM PST by oldvike
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To: TheFilter
A great argument against socialized medicine, by the way.

Can you actually believe that we have people who argue AGAINST individual freedom and responsibility for the citiznery because some abuse it and because we have some socialism in place?

'Wait, we can't ALLOW you to do that because it adds casts to our socialist system.'

42 posted on 01/27/2003 1:02:18 PM PST by Eagle Eye (And you shall know the STATE and the STATE shall make you free.)
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To: Lost Highway
Since there is no Constitutional right involved here, and because the roads governed by the laws are funded by the government of the people and by the people in a democratic system, it is a matter of majority rule.

SHOULD the gov't outlaw every vice and mandate every vitrue? Of course not.

CAN they? To the extent the constitution is not offended, of course they can.

Get involved and change the law - stop whining about a right that does not exist under our current Constitution.
43 posted on 01/27/2003 1:02:55 PM PST by Notwithstanding (America: Home of Abortion on Demand - 42,000,000 Slaughtered)
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To: Puppage
"and generate some revenue at the same time"

We have a winner!!!

44 posted on 01/27/2003 1:03:09 PM PST by sweetliberty (Go Al, go!)
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To: BSunday
I have to chuckle when I see the ad on TV from DirecTV on the kid riding his bike without a helmet. The father calls out to his son who isn't wearing a helmet and does the usual speech along the lines of "haven't I told you to use a helmet when riding your bike, you could get hurt if you fall", then he proceeds to tell his kid to climb the ladder to the top of the house and take down the DirecTV dish. The kid procceds to look up at the roof and then looks at his bike. He has to be wondering, if he has to ride a bike with a helmet, but no helmet to climb on top of the house! How confusing can that be!
45 posted on 01/27/2003 1:04:31 PM PST by spokanite
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To: Lost Highway
Get involved and change the law - stop whining about a right that does not exist under our current Constitution.
46 posted on 01/27/2003 1:04:32 PM PST by Notwithstanding (America: Home of Abortion on Demand - 42,000,000 Slaughtered)
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To: Doc Savage
"If it was we'd have every mentally ill moron tailgating us at 80mph"

You've evidently not driven some of the places I have.

47 posted on 01/27/2003 1:05:30 PM PST by sweetliberty (Go Al, go!)
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To: Lost Highway
Some laws I don't like.
If my distaste is strong enough, I work to change the law.
Whining is not working to change the law.
48 posted on 01/27/2003 1:11:04 PM PST by Notwithstanding (America: Home of Abortion on Demand - 42,000,000 Slaughtered)
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To: tnlibertarian
Hey! Y'all stole that from NC! Y'all make up your own name fer it, goldurn it! :}We have the same thing here...its just an excuse for the cops to stop people for no other reason maybe sniff the car, look at your dl and registration...make a lil money for Raleigh. Its a farce and I resent it. But, as I am sure you guys know in TN, once its passed, it would take an act of God to get it repealed.
49 posted on 01/27/2003 1:20:30 PM PST by Adder
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To: Notwithstanding
In your world, we would need to have higher insurance rates for people who like the freedom of not wearing a seatbelt and who thus have bigger payouts when an accident does occur.
The rest of us should not have to pay for your freedom to live dangerously .

I have no problem with insurance companies charging a higher premium for risk takers.

I do have a problem with insurance company lobbyists writing our laws.

I personally like the New Hampshire attitude, where signs on the roads entering the state say (approximately),"If you're under 18 buckle up. It's the law. If you're over 18, have a nice day."

50 posted on 01/27/2003 1:21:26 PM PST by metesky
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To: shortstop
Little Billy is 36 and as a good responsible member of society becomes offended if any liberty is taken away from him.

Little Billy does not wear a seatbelt while he is driving to show those State officials that they can't take away his liberty.

Little Billy is in a car wreck, and instead of being restrained by his seatbelt, he suffers 5 broken ribs and a series of lacerations along his face and neck.

Little Billy is taken to the emergancy room and is in surgery for 4 hours.

Little Billy is then hospitilized for 3 more days and the released.

Little Billy is homebound for another week as he is unable to go into the office.

It seems that Little Billy was broadsided by a City Utilities truck and Little Billy's sedan was forced into a light pole.

Little Billy's injuries and expenses, including the time off of work, are being paid for by the city's insurance since it was the city's driver who was at fault.

Little Billy, who wanted to maintain his liberty, costs the city and it's insurance company close to $300,000 in the settlement.

Who pays that cost? Well, the city pays a portion of it, plus the city's insurance premiums go up. That means that taxpayers pay a portion of Billy's settlement. That means that other people seeking insurance will pay, with their premiums, a portion of Billy's settlement.

Let's say that it wasn't a law, then Billy's lawyers could suggest suing the State for not making seat belts mandantory thus saving Billy injury and loss of work. Sadly, it is a law, thus closing off that avenue of cash for litagators.

But, hey, a LIBERTY (not even a "right") is worth thousands of lives a year and millions of dollars in taxpayer money, right?

51 posted on 01/27/2003 1:23:01 PM PST by Anitius Severinus Boethius
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To: Agamemnon
" Ever notice how the word "community" forms the core of the word "communism?"

I guess I had noticed that before, but it was a long time ago. Now that you mention it though, it makes sense why that has become one of the most hated words on my list of "fingernails on the chalkboard" buzz words. Do you ever get the feeling that more and more people are seeming to think that communism is a good idea?

52 posted on 01/27/2003 1:23:19 PM PST by sweetliberty (Go Al, go!)
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To: shortstop
Seatbelts are velvet chains that same way license plates and driver's licenses and speed limits and traffic lights and all other trafic laws are.

You want the privilege to drive your automobile on paved roads to traverse the town, county or country? Then abide the laws passed by your duly elected brethren.

If you value your freedom to drive with no seatbelt more than the privilege to use tax-funded roads then you can always drive up and down your driveway and walk to the store.
53 posted on 01/27/2003 1:25:58 PM PST by Notwithstanding (America: Home of Abortion on Demand - 42,000,000 Slaughtered)
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To: Carry_Okie
It is socialism, Sir, and you are correct.

Ever notice how many Freepers are not interested in fighting this creeping socialism?

54 posted on 01/27/2003 1:27:36 PM PST by metesky
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To: Carry_Okie
"The real problem is that we haven't allowed insurance companies to discriminate in their pricing.?

I agree with that premise but it goes deeper. Not only would the insurance company have to be able to discriminate in their pricing but the insurance would have to be sufficient to keep Joe off of the public dole.


Joe Cyclist is going to tell Cycle Insurance he is going to wear his helmet. Cycle Insurance has no way of knowing Joe is violating his agreement until he has a wreck and the officer documents Joe didn't have his helmet on.

Now Cycle Insurance refuses to pay, since Joe was outside of his agreement with them. Joe has massive head injuries and guess who pays. You and me, because Joe is now on the public dole.

Example II-- Joe Cyclist was wearing his helmet but still has massive injuries. Cycle Insurance pays, but Joe ends up on the public dole anyway because the insurance wasn't sufficient. Once again, I'm paying for Joe.

Example III -- Insurance can now discriminate and minimum requirements for Insurance are sufficient so that no matter what Medical condition Joe ends up in as a result of his cycling, Joe will never be on the public dole.

Only problem is Joe can't afford Cycle Insurance. Neither can anyone else. For that matter, few people can now afford cars because we've applied the same principle to car insurance. The economy is reduced to a fraction of what it was and everyone loses.

System 1 - A system with Laws designed to enforce safety habits, minimal insurance requirements and a public safety net or

System 2 - A system with no safety laws, but minimum Insurance requirements sufficient to protect society from Joe's stupidity.

Or would you prefer...

System 3 - No safety laws, no insurance requirements, no public safety net, hospitals aren't required to treat anyone who can't pay. Joe can't get medical care, because of no insurance and dies. Joe's wife commits suicide because of the pressure of raising three kids by herself.

Joe's three kids end up on the street because there are no orphanages any more since we did away with the public safety net. The three kids take to crime causing property insurance to go up as well as the prison population and associated law enforcement and once again I'm paying for Joe's stupidity.

55 posted on 01/27/2003 1:30:37 PM PST by DannyTN (Note left on my door by a pack of neighborhood dogs.)
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To: Agamemnon
Interesting choice of words. Ever notice how the word "community" forms the core of the word "communism?"

The core of both of those words is "commune", to be in harmony with others. Communism hardly lives up to its name, but community often does.

As I have stated before, the defining commonality of many libertarians is their disdain and contempt for any society (yes socialism uses the same base word). There is a simple line from a famous piece of writing that I think can determine the difference between a "conservative" and a "libertarian":

Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

Most libertarians would answer "no".

56 posted on 01/27/2003 1:32:56 PM PST by Anitius Severinus Boethius
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To: Notwithstanding
"because you want to drive on the highway the community has funded, you have to play by the community rules."

I recall an accident whereby a woman struck the railing of an overpass, and was thrown out of her car onto the road BELOW. Fortunately, now one else was injured. Others might have been killed or seriously injured becaused this woman was not wearing her seatbelt. Both roads were closed for hours, leading to the possibility of other accidents, or at the very least, traffic congestion for all others that use the roads.

I agree with you. If we are going to share the same roads, paid for by the community, we have to abide by rules that make them safe for all of us.
57 posted on 01/27/2003 1:33:45 PM PST by OldBlondBabe
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Comment #58 Removed by Moderator

To: shortstop
Dumbass article!
59 posted on 01/27/2003 1:36:35 PM PST by verity
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To: Chemist_Geek
"and must set limits"? Oh really? I agree with the "may" but why "must"? The "state" is not a monlithic entity, it is the people. [We're talking theory here, not reality]. So in your opinion, how does wearing a seat belt relate to the use of the roads? It has nothing to do with road safety: doesn't regulate speed, doesn't stop reckless endangerment of others. All it does is allow the state into the vehicle. The law changes the relationship with the state from regulating the driver's behavior vis a vis other drivers; instead it becomes paternalistic insisting that only the state can determine what is acceptable. That does not apply to other situations in driving that I can think of.
60 posted on 01/27/2003 1:37:18 PM PST by Adder
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