January 12, 2010

Steve Pomper

Don’t get Mired in Distractions on Nanny-state Issues

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I’ve been writing about my opposition to helmet and seatbelt-type laws for many years. In fact, I’ve been doing this for about three decades now. I believe if government should be involved at all, it should educate, not mandate. One frustration I’ve found, even with some sympathetic and otherwise conservative/libertarian-leaning folks, is they too often get distracted by political straw-men, and concede points or make weak arguments against liberty grabs.


The distraction is the perennial counter to the argument against helmet and seatbelt laws, which is based on personal liberty, is to assert, “If I’m going to have to pay hospital bills for those who choose not to use seatbelts or helmets, I (government) should be able to force seatbelt and helmet use.”


Unfortunately, they do have an argument, but only due to the fact that government pays for too many American’s medical care. This is why the argument should be more against increasing government interference in American healthcare, than even against specific helmet, seatbelt, and similar type laws. When the government pays your bills, yes, it’s logical they should have a say in your behavior. This is the perfect argument against the government paying your bills. And even when it does pay your bills, the truly American policy should be, liberty first-safety/health second; remember, it’s the Statue of Liberty, not the Statue of Safety. Patrick Henry didn’t say, “Give me Safety, or give me Death.” Now there’s a bold and courageous declaration.


Bottom line, the reason to oppose helmet and seatbelt laws is simple. The formula that gets us those laws is the very same formula that will bring similar laws affecting more and more areas of our lives. For example take New York Governor Mike Boomberg’s “Scorched Nutrition” campaign against its citizen’s health choices in Gotham.


He’s decreed transfats be banned and next on the list is salt. How staggeringly arrogant can one politician be? Well, this year we’re getting lots of answers to that question. And this is from a Mayor who, while at the same time he’s working diligently to save New Yorkers from their choices, is handing out brochures to assist heroin addicts with the “safe” use of their chosen opiate. Even though I’m a cop, as a libertarian I say discuss legalization, sure, but I’ve seen too many junkies to ever endorse a government assisting with what they consider the “safe” use of such a treacherous narcotic.


Yes folks, you may not think helmet laws affect you, because you don’t ride a two-wheeled vehicle; you may not think seatbelt laws affect you, because you’d wear a seatbelt regardless. But what happens when they eventually (and they will) come after, what should be a personal decision about, something you do care about? If we have high profile politicians willing to, by virtual royal decree, banish food products as ubiquitous as salt, for Pete’s sake; there’s a politician somewhere, bitten by the “do-something” bug as we speak, who’s just waiting for, or more likely looking for, the next ban to inflict on a supposedly free people.    


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