it ever stop or even slow down a little?
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.
the $25 hit thats the current national average fine just isnt
enough. Neither are the DMV demerit points some states and (of course)
the District of Columbia hit you with if youre found unbuckled.
would improve compliance by 6 to 7 percent, according
to (yet another) taxpayer-financed study of the obvious (see
Beat people enough and theyll eventually do what you say,
too. Force and the threat of force kind of works like
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 dont 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 dont ticket fatties including
the donut-eaters who issue tickets for not wearing seatbelts.
This is unjust.
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 dont 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. Youre not an
individual, responsible for your own life, free to decide how best
to live it. Youre 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
Joe is a disgusting fat slob who eats at McDonalds 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. Well say its for their own good
but its 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
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 peoples 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 familys problem; the problem
of any who choose to help, if help be needed. Thats where
it should end.
thats where it all begins in this mess that is modern
America. Joes bills get paid for by the Crowd and the
Crowd is not happy. The Crowd demands more laws to keep things in
These are the
true terms of the debate and not just the seatbelt law debate.
Were 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
elses business, too. Where theres no real choice, theres
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 cant force you to pay
my medical bills; you cant force me to buckle-up for
Which one sounds
more appealing to you?
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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