It Never Ends...

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Gawd. Will
it ever stop – or even slow down a little?

The latest:
NHTSA and the insurance companies want to see fines for not buckling
up jacked up to as much as $100 in order to “encourage”
higher compliance with mandatory seatbelt laws.

Apparently,
the $25 hit that’s the current national average fine just isn’t
enough. Neither are the DMV demerit points some states and (of course)
the District of Columbia hit you with if you’re found unbuckled.

Higher fines
would improve “compliance” by 6 to 7 percent, according
to (yet another) taxpayer-financed study of the obvious (see
here
).

Well, yeah.
Beat people enough and they’ll eventually do what you say,
too. Force – and the threat of force – kind of works like
that.

But the question
ought to be whether there should be any fines at all for declining
to wear a seat belt. And if there should be, then we ought to at
least be consistent and hit people who don’t exercise, or who
are grossly overweight, with fines as a well. Call it the Tubby
Tax. After all, the same reasoning applies – or ought to.

NHTSA and other
such nags say wearing a seat belt is safer. True. So is eating three
servings of vegetables a day and maintaining a healthy body weight
– but (so far) we don’t ticket fatties – including
the donut-eaters who issue tickets for not wearing seatbelts.

This is unjust.

Fat people
impose much higher costs on “society” in the form of things
like early-onset diabetes, arteriosclerosis and so on than do unbuckled
drivers – most of whom never impose any costs on anyone at
all because they don’t get into major wrecks – hence,
their seat belt usage or non-usage is irrelevant.

What we really
need to get at here, though, is the idea behind it all – this
un-American notion of collective everything. You’re not an
individual, responsible for your own life, free to decide how best
to live it. You’re part of the Great Collective. Your actions
affect others – even though this “affect” is only
possible as a result of coercive policies that force us all on each
other.

For example:
Joe is a disgusting fat slob who eats at McDonald’s every day.
He has a heart attack at 32 and goes on disability for life. His
medical costs and government dole come out of the general fund –
monies the rest of us are forced to pay up in the form of taxes,
health care premiums and so on. Hence, we have a rightful case to
be pissed off at Joe and to push for new laws that would make other
Joe-types live better. We’ll say it’s for their own good
but it’s really all about our bottom line.

Well, the same
peddler reasoning lies behind this seatbelt stuff. If unbuckled
Joe gets into a wreck his medical bills get transferred onto the
shoulders of Ye and Thee and so we want to make him buckle-up for
“safety.”

But if we could
just remember what America was supposed to be all about – the
freedom to choose for yourself, to be responsible for yourself –
and not be responsible for other people’s choices – we
might get this thing back on the tracks.

Joe has every
right to choose not to wear his seat belt. But he must be willing
to assume the responsibility – and also any consequences –
for his choice. If he does happen to get into a wreck his injuries
are rightly his problem, his family’s problem; the problem
of any who choose to help, if help be needed. That’s where
it should end.

Unfortunately,
that’s where it all begins – in this mess that is modern
America. Joe’s bills get paid for by the Crowd – and the
Crowd is not happy. The Crowd demands more laws to keep things in
line.

These are the
true terms of the debate – and not just the seatbelt law debate.
We’re going to have to decide what kind of country we want,
what kinds of lives we want to live.

Option A is
a henpecky, busybody society in which everything you do is everyone
else’s business, too. Where there’s no real choice, there’s
no real freedom. Your individualism is drowned in a sea of We.

Option B is
what America used to be. You do your thing, I do mine. Our lives
intersect on a voluntary basis only. I can’t force you to pay
my medical bills; you can’t force me to “buckle-up for
safety.”

Which one sounds
more appealing to you?

Reprinted
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.

March
5, 2011

Eric Peters
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs
(2011). Visit his
website
.

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