I don't usually find myself in agreement with Walter Williams but lightening has struck and I find myself on the same side as Willy. In an essay posted to the Walter Williams site at George Mason University Mr. Williams discusses the seat belt laws:
Virginia's secretary of transportation sent out a letter announcing the state's annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign May 22 through June 4. I responded to the secretary of transportation with my own letter that in part reads:
"Mr. Secretary: This is an example of the disgusting abuse of state power. Each of us owns himself, and it follows that we should have the liberty to take risks with our own lives but not that of others. That means it's a legitimate use of state power to mandate that cars have working brakes because if my car has poorly functioning brakes, I risk the lives of others and I have no right to do so. If I don't wear a seatbelt I risk my own life, which is well within my rights. As to your statement 'Lack of safety belt use is a growing public health issue that . . . also costs us all billions of dollars every year,' that's not a problem of liberty. It's a problem of socialism. No human should be coerced by the state to bear the medical expense, or any other expense, for his fellow man. In other words, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another is morally offensive."
Mr. Williams discussion here is extremely persuasive. I am of the opinion that the inside of one's vehicle is one's private property and the police have no business looking into said property without my permission or a warrant. The reason police can look inside your vehicle without my permission is because you need to be able to look outside. Hence laws on the books that prohibit tinting not because of any public safety issues but because police can't see in the vehicle are particularly odius to me. But that's not the genius behind Willy's remarks. No, the genius behind his remarks which is highly relevant to the actions of President Bush is that the state enforces seat belt laws (and even has them) because the state wishes to regulate your personal activity which does not have any detrimental effects on anyone else. If there is anything more definitive of a "victimless crime" it is the non-use of seat belts. In fact the lack of seat belt use cannot cost us "billions of dollars in medical expenses every year' because if one does not wear a seat belt then during an accident, one is either killed outright or suffers various injuries. An insured person would be a "burden" to his or her insurance company, not the state. If the person is not insured then we have an issue with health insurance not of seat belt use or non-use. Of course this is where Willy and I part ways. I have no problem with "socialized" healthcare. Nor do I mind being taxed for it. I do have a problem when the state hands these tax dollars to so called "medical management companies" that apparently specialize in telling doctors what not to do for patients. It is also arguable that like the prison industry accidents, like crime, provides jobs for people in a wide variety of fields such as trauma, fire, ems, police, etc.
There is another reason for this problem with the concept of "protecting us from ourselves" reasoning for government intrusion: Speeding. There is simply no evidence to prove that speeding, in and of itself is the cause of an accident. Yet the states in an orgy of "road taxing" citizens set up elaborate traps and impose astronomical fines for doing something that is "victimless." Lets be clear, I'm not talking about the fool doing 50 on a local street. I'm talking about doing 80+ mph on an interstate with little traffic. The use of cell phones actually causes accidents. People blocking the passing lane, leading to people having to use their brakes on interstates causes more accidents than any speeding. Yet blocking a lane or obstructing the flow of traffic results in a lower fine and lower points on a license (if any) than speeding.
Anyway, the whole "I know best for you" syndrome has also given us President Bush who has the opinion that he can decide which laws he will and will not abide by. It is the same philosophy of "We're looking out for you" or what the Republicans have called "Big Government (tm)", but with this presidency has become what we have called "American Big Man".
Another clear example o government overreach into the personal liberty of citizens was the Terry Shiavo case. That was another example of certain lawmakers telling citiens how they should live and die mostly based on some religious faith.
All in all we should be careful over why we enact certain laws. Government should be enacting laws that protect us from each other not from ourselves.