Jewish World Review June 15, 2005 /8 Sivan,
Click it or ticket
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an
office within the U.S. Department of Transportation, just finished its
annual campaign to get us to wear our seatbelts under a program called
"Click It or Ticket." States receive federal subsidies to ticket drivers if
they or their passengers are not buckled up.
Some states, such as Maryland, are so eager that they've
equipped their officers with night vision goggles, similar to those used by
our servicemen in Iraq. Maryland state troopers bagged 44 drivers traveling
unbuckled under the cover of darkness. The NHTSA's "Click It or Ticket"
program is another step toward making Americans serfs of the state.
Let's look at it. I personally believe that wearing seatbelts is
a good idea, and I buckle up and remind my passengers to do so as well.
Because seatbelt usage saves lives, mandating such is an abomination in a
free society. There are many other legislative actions that are offensive to
liberty and can have saving as their justification, a matter I'll turn to
later. But let's talk about the immorality of mandated seatbelt usage.
Let's start with the question: Who owns Walter E. Williams? Is
it President Bush, the U.S. Congress, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or
do I own myself? I'm guessing that any reasonable person would agree that I
own Walter E. Williams. The fact that I own myself means that I have the
right to take risks with my own life but not others'. That's why it's
consistent with morality to mandate that my car have working brakes. If my
car doesn't have working brakes, then I risk the lives of others, and I have
no right to do so. If I choose not to wear a seatbelt, then I risk my own
life, which I have every right to do.
Of course, if it's stipulated that President Bush, the Congress
or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania owns me, I have no such right; I'd be
risking their property. Some might rejoin by saying, "Williams, if you're
not wearing a seatbelt, and don't do us the favor of dying in an accident
and become an incapacitated vegetable, society will have to bear the expense
of taking care of you." That's not a problem of liberty and self-ownership.
It's a problem of socialism.
Each year, obesity claims the lives of 300,000 Americans and
adds over $100 billion to health care costs. Should government enforce a
2,000-calorie intake limit per day? There's absolutely no dietary reason to
add salt to our meals. Salt can lead to hypertension-induced heart attacks
that kill thousands. Should government outlaw salt consumption? Sedentary
lifestyles have been shown to lead to shorter and less healthy lives. Should
there be government-mandated exercise programs?
The justifications used for "Click It or Ticket" can easily
provide the template for government control of our diets and other lifestyle
features. Maybe I'm a bit out of touch with today's Americans. With the
silence in the face of attacks on Burger King and McDonald's, alleging they
cause obesity, maybe Americans are pining for more government control over
their lives and "Click It or Ticket" is just softening up the rest of us
for what lies ahead in the future.
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