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Jewish World Review March 24, 1999 /7 Nissan, 5759

Walter Williams

Walter Williams
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Right to be left alone?

(JWR) ---- (
DO PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT to be left alone? Or, should others have a right to forcibly impose their will upon us?

This question came to mind as I was replacing my garage-door opener. The installation was a breeze until it came to installing the "beam sensor," a light beam that, when broken, stops the door from closing. The idea of the sensor is to protect against entrapment of people or animals between the bottom of the door and the floor.

For years, garage-door openers automatically reversed when they struck an object; the beam sensor provides extra protection. My first response was to disconnect the beam sensor. That's when I read: "It's the law: Garage-door openers must be provided with an external entrapment protection system such as a 'beam sensor' to help protect against entrapment between the bottom of the garage door and the floor. THIS SYSTEM CANNOT BE DEFEATED OR BYPASSED."

For Congress to mandate this kind of safety equipment is nothing short of bureaucratic arrogance. But, because Americans are so timid, gullible and short-sighted, Congress, egged on by busybody interest groups, gets away with micro-managing our lives.

You say: "What's wrong with you, Williams, there's no such thing as being too safe. If beam sensors save just one American life, it's worth it!" I agree that people should take reasonable measures to protect both themselves and others against hazards. What's a reasonable precaution and what's negligence has been well established by common law. But what about the bromide that, if it saves just one life, let's do it?

If we did everything that saved lives, we'd do all manner of foolish things. For example, we could save tens of thousands of lives by lowering the highway speed limit from 65 mph to 5 mph. Additional lives could be saved by a Federal Aviation Administration regulation mandating that airplanes not come within 200 miles of each other and requiring only one plane to be taxiing at a time. That would eliminate mid-air collisions and ground mishaps. Each year, many children suffer traumatic, sometimes fatal injuries falling from trees. A law requiring safety nets under all trees would prevent such mishaps. I know that you're saying, "Williams, you're being ridiculous!"

Let's examine your claim with a couple of simple questions. Do you deny that a 5 mph speed limit would virtually eliminate highway deaths? I don't believe any reasonable person would deny that. Next question: If you accept the principle "if it saves just one life," why wouldn't you support a 5 mph speed limit law? You can hem and haw all you want, but your rejection of a 5 mph speed limit boils down to the lives saved by a 5 mph speed limit wouldn't be worth the inconvenience. In other words, there's a tradeoff between safety, saving lives and everything else.

A case can be made for certain safety regulations, such as speed limits and other traffic safety measures because one person's actions can cause harm to another. However, the new garage-door regulations are beyond the pale. It's up to me to decide the level of safety for my family and me, not Washington busybodies. Professed concern about safety is little more than a Trojan Horse for tyrants and their useful idiot accomplices, allowing them to control our lives.

By the way, my solution for the garage-door opener beam sensors was to tape the light beams together, so they're "looking at" one another. Then, I put them on the shelf.


03/17/99: Why Congress can't be trusted
03/10/99: Racial profiling
03/03/99: Equality before the law
02/24/99: Population control nonsense
02/17/99: Congressional contempt
02/11/99:Blooming fur tyrants
02/05/99:More money, better education?
01/27/99:Absurdity, brazenness and hypocrisy reigns
01/20/99:Economics 101
01/13/99:A wrongful celebration
01/06/99: Economics of predation
12/30/98: Things I wonder about
12/23/98: Unseen crime costs
12/21/98: How to become rich
12/09/98: Advancing national decadence
12/02/98: The Civil War wasn't about slavery
11/24/98:What's happened to us?
11/20/98:Tragedy in black neighborhoods
11/11/98:Family debasement
I11/04/98: Is it them or us?
10/28/98: Where are the poor?
10/21/98: The budget surplus hoax
10/15/98: Where union power lies
10/08/98: Race and sex in the military
9/29/98: Can Clinton run the economy?
9/25/98: Liberals and the constitution
9/17/98: Clinton and future presidents
9/11/98: Donate or sell organs
9/03/98: Common Sense vs. Experts
8/26/98: Mother Nature's unfairness
8/24/98: The pretense of superiority
8/13/98: Yours or mine?
8/05/98: I do my job well, so that means I can....
7/29/98: Education production

©1999, Creators Syndicate