Measured Against Reality

Monday, June 04, 2007

Seat belt laws, paternalism, and federalism

New Hampshire has declined to pass a seatbelt law, making it the only state in the Union lacking one. A senator who voted against the bill said:

The citizens of New Hampshire don't like to be told by anyone else what to do. It preserves New Hampshire's way of not succumbing to the bribes of the federal government and New Hampshire's belief that every adult can make his or her own choices in life.


I love the sentiment, but I'm not sure I agree in this case. It's entirely possible that not wearing your seatbelt puts unfair pressure on other people, such as your medical bills when your dumb ass gets catapulted out of your car (not a common scenario, I know). If there was some kind of reasonable conclusion about that (and there very well may be, I'm just not aware of it) I'd be unequivocally for what they did.

But the better example of this is something like the drinking age or drug laws. I don't know anyone who thinks that the drinking age is sensible, but somehow it remains unchanged. And our drug laws are just insane, but now isn't the time for that story. I think we'd be much better served if these things were actually up to the states, instead of this crazy federalism run amok that we currently have.

And then we get into the even crazier paternalistic tendencies we're developing. We've outlawed internet gambling, for crying out loud. Our government thinks that you shouldn't be able to spend your own money playing a game online. It makes as much sense for them to outlaw World of Warcraft.

That's just one example though, for some reason we're being increasingly regulated, and decisions that the government has no damn part in are being made for us by them. I don't want to sound like one of those crazy anarchists who blame "THE GOVERNMENT" for everything, but I think we're moving in a bad direction when it comes to personal choice and personal responsibility. A person should be free to make their own choices regarding themselves, their life, and their body, but many legitimate choices are off limits for incomprehensible or impossibly flimsy reasons. I think the best example of this is drugs (both recreational and prescription), but there are tons more (namely any vice, we love regulating so much that I think regulating vice has become its own vice, I wouldn't be surprised if some people get off by restricting other people's ability to get off).

I've mentioned this before, that I'm not entirely sure if this is truly a crucial time in our history or if it just appears that way to me. After all, pretty much everything I believe in is being systematically ignored or trampled on. Time will tell, I suppose.

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2 Comments:

  • What's interesting to me is that it's a Republican administration that came up with the internet gambling law. Gambling is wrong, apparently, unless you're buying state-sponsored lottery tickets that have a horrible win/loss ratio and no way to improve the odds. If I bet on a horse or greyhound race, I can handicap the race and have some clue what's going on. Not so on lottery tickets. And why is National Bingo okay but gambling on the Net isn't? Pogo.com? Bingo at the local masonic hall? It just doesn't make sense. Except that now you have to go to the casinos who also supported the bill.
    Shine On,
    Lill

    By Blogger Lill, at 5:42 PM, June 04, 2007  

  • Bingo is done in churches, so it must be good.

    By Blogger mollishka, at 6:23 PM, June 09, 2007  

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