May 11, 2010

Steve Pomper

It’s the Liberty, Stupid! Just ask John Stossel.

author photo ihis

Yesterday I learned an interesting lesson while watching Stossel on the Fox Business Channel. John’s audiences tend to be infused with libertarians, which is fantastic. I find the ascendency of small “l” libertarians inspiring. However, I observed an interesting phenomenon from which we can all learn a lesson about taking a breath, or counting to ten, before we react to an emotional question.

The issue on Stossel concerned government’s kneejerk “police” reaction into so many venues. One segment dealt with airlines charging for carry-on baggage. When John asked the audience something to the effect of whether or not charging “high” fees for non-checked baggage was good, even this libertarian audience booed.

Although it was a reaction without contemplation, it was an object lesson in something I’ve been railing about ever since I first remember my grandmother saying, “There should be a law…” about some behavior she didn’t like: A good idea does not equate to a good law.

I’m certain most folks in that audience felt the question viscerally, rather than intellectually, before answering it. And I’m not disparaging them; I may have answered a question put like that the same way, before having had a chance to think about it. How dare I imply a business shouldn’t be able to charge whatever they feel is a fair price for whatever service?

Incidentally, the owner of Spirit, the airline in question, cleared up the issue for me by explaining Spirit’s ticket prices declined for all passengers by more than the carry-on fee, and only the “late” passengers who failed to prepay for carry-on luggage were charged the highest fees, because it causes delays. Beyond that, only carry-on that needed to be placed in overhead compartments required the fee be paid; passengers were still able to take carry-on aboard, which fit under the seats, for free.

Hmmmm, never heard Senator Schumer explain that part, but he did get his mug on TV, so it’s all good. So what if he used his office to malign a private company; it’s not like we need companies like Spirit to do better business and hire more people or anything.

This kneejerk, non-thinking-reactionary, phenomenon is partly why we have such initial groundswell for some proposals, which after further scrutiny, we often vehemently reject. This has been the case with many of the political left’s collectivist agenda, including the Healthcare Bill. This also explains the rapid-onslaught passage method necessary for this Democratic Administration’s success against the people’s wishes…but I digress.

The point is our initial, non-considered, reaction to any policy proposal. Should people smoke, drink, ride a bike helmetless, drive a car seat beltless, play pro baseball and chew tobacco, or… (Fill in the blank)? Many of us might initially say, “No!” This is understandable, but the collectivists attempting to rule our every action—and thought if they could—hear, “No; (but also) There should be a law!”

All of the above might be considered by some to be things people shouldn’t do, but the primary question is: Is it the government’s business to tell any individual American not to do these things? Of course not; the Constitution gives government no authority for such proscriptions. It’s only if you believe in collective “rights” over individual rights that this course makes any sense. And it’s not collective “rights” that made America the most successful nation in world history; the defining difference between the United States and other nations has been its declaration of and then striving toward individual liberty.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This