The Nanny State

Some readers have questioned my conservative credibility, and that’s fine, no worries there. We’re all somewhere on the spectrum. However, the philosophical spectrum isn’t just bi-directionally linear. There are other forks in the road in different directions from being conservative or liberal, and one is libertarianism.
I won’t claim to be a staunch or strict libertarian like some, but I’m right there with many facets of it. I want a smaller government and when the government thinks they know what is best for me, I want to push back.
Some of you may have heard that WPRO’s Matt Allen started a petition which he sent to the RI Speaker of the House calling for the repeal of last year’s new law regarding seat belts. The 2011 law made not wearing a seat belt a primary offense in RI. This means that the police may now stop you in your car even if your only offense is not wearing your seat belt. Prior to this law, they needed another reason to stop you.
I’ve been listening to Matt on the radio and of course this all makes sense. We’re all adults, we’re responsible for ourselves and should be treated like responsible adults. If someone doesn’t want to wear a seat belt in their car, let them. It’s not hurting anyone else. The opposition tells us that wearing a seat belt is safer and you’ll have a better chance of surviving a car accident if you’re wearing it. Great, got it. We are informed, we are aware of the risks.
Another argument that those in favor of the law will tell us, like Speaker Fox did in his response to Matt and included in Justin’s Ocean State Current post on the topic:

crashes cost the nation about $230 billion each year in medical expenses, lost productivity, property damage and related costs. Rhode Island pays $767 million of these costs, which accounts for $732 for each Rhode Island resident per year.

If we want one end of the libertarian argument, we should also accept the other. Let’s make a deal here. If you choose to not wear a seat belt and are involved in a car accident that requires you to receive medical attention, you’re on your own. You work out what you can with your own insurance company but any other costs are yours and yours alone. Don’t burden me with your medical costs because you chose to not wear the safety device. Similarly, I support motorcyclists’ right to not wear a helmet. However when they crash, I think they should be on their own for their medical care. I don’t want to have to support their dumb decisions.
I also have to question the Assembly’s motives on this. Is it really about personal safety, or is it about money? I guess the Speaker has already admitted it’s at least partially about money, as he cited that in the accident statistics. However others will just argue that this law makes sense because it makes us safer, with no mention of money. I know on the radio, Matt has been using the logic used for this law in other areas. Let me try that for one: Why is cigarette smoking legal at all? If we truly care about peoples’ health and safety and not money, then shouldn’t tobacco products be banned immediately?
Easy answer, it’s all about the money.

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Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“If you choose to not wear a seat belt and are involved in a car accident that requires you to receive medical attention, you’re on your own.”
Nice, let their bloodied and mangled corpses left to rot by the roadside serve as warning, eh?
It’s hard to take this kind of reactionary fantasy seriously, but at least it’s good to see the real conservative in you is out there now (“out there” being the operative words).

JohnD
John(@disqus_cihud2gmi1)
9 years ago

Now let’s take that attitute to the Obamacare plan. Everybody gets insurance so we all have to pay for the poor lifestyle choices (smoking, drug use, alcohol abuse, etc.) of those who are now being promised continuous care by their government with no personal resonsibility ever being considered!
This country is going to S*#T!

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

If it’s really such a critical public safety issue, make it a criminal offense. Or if it’s really not about the money, put it in a separate fund for victims of drunk driving or allow people to give it to an approved charity. Hell will freeze over first. Look at what has happened to parking enforcement – it’s practically a second sales tax and armies of revenue collectors patrol the streets.
Progressives and the GA want bigger government and more revenue to play with in their social programs. That’s all.
Just wait until 60% of the people pulled over for seatbelt violations turn out to be poor minorities. Then the statists will be screaming from the rooftops.

JohnD
John(@disqus_cihud2gmi1)
9 years ago

Statists, my a$$. It’ll turn into a discrimination battle and the police will have to start compiling statistics to prove that only minorities are being stopped for driving without strapping.
We all know that the cops are racists, don’t we? Every race and class are involved in crime in a direct, proportional ratio to their representation int he population! No?

Mike678
Mike678
9 years ago

The “I am better than you” comment by Russ is telling. Liberals reject personal responsibility. In their world, there exists little accountability for actions. Asking people to be responsible is “too hard.” Thus the responsible must pay for the irresponsible. All that gets you is an ever increasing pool of the irresponsible and people move from pulling the wagon to jumping in it.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

What’s funny is the poster above thinks liberals have a superiority complex (quite the contrary in fact… there but for the grace of God, go I), while simulatenously ranting about the “responsible” and the burden they bear for the “irresponsible.” Which one of us thinks they’re better again? Ha!

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Russ doesn’t think he is better than you, in the same respect that he doesn’t think he is better than his own children. He simply thinks he knows what is best for you and everyone else, as if you were a child under his enlightened guardianship. So if you endanger yourself, you need to be punished, because he “cares” so much.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Russ doesn’t think he is better than you, in the same respect that he doesn’t think he is better than his own children. He simply thinks he knows what is best for you and everyone else, as if you were a child under his enlightened guardianship. So if you endanger yourself, you need to be punished, because he “cares” so much.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Ah, I love to hear Dan tell me what I think. Clearly he doesn’t think himself better than me either. Very funny today, guys.
And, yes, I have no problem with requiring seat belts usage, the device itself the product of progressive activism, although I’m I’d hesitate at suggesting primary enforcement of the law (strikes me as an exuse to pull over anyone at anytime… i.e. Your Honor, I thought I saw one of them without their seat belt on).
Anyway, didn’t mean to interrupt the fringe-right fantasy fest over here. Who else should we deny emergency services? How about anyone involved in contact sports? They’re practically asking for it, right?

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

“Don’t tell me what I think! But yes, as a matter of fact, that is exactly what I think.” -Russ

Mike678
Mike678
9 years ago

I did overgeneralize. Most liberals…
Most liberals also have thin skins 🙂

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

You got me there. Exercising my parental responsibility for the safety my children could only be explained as a product of my superiority complex.
Of course it makes as much sense as Patrick’s proposal to let the corpses rot where they land in the name of individual liberty. An instant classic, this one.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“Liberals reject personal responsibility.”
Liberals just have a different idea of what responsibility means. The notion is that responsiblity is not just about responsiblity for oneself but also for others. Lakoff discusses this at length in “Don’t Think of an Elephant.” He summarizes here…
http://www.alternet.org/election2012/154516/why_the_gop_campaign_for_the_presidency_is_about_guaranteeing_a_radical_conservative_future_for_america?page=entire

The basic moral values in the progressive moral system are empathy and responsibility, both for oneself and others. This leads to a view of government as having certain moral obligations: providing protection and empowerment for everyone equally. This requires a vibrant commitment to the public — public infrastructure (roads, buildings, sewers), public education, public health, and so on. No private business can prosper at all without such public provisions. The private depends on the public.
These values follow from certain ideal progressive family values, as projected to larger institutions. The progressive family has parents of equal authority. Their central moral role requires empathy with each other and their children, it requires self-responsibility, and responsibility for the well-being of other family members. This means open communication, transparency about family rules, shared decision-making, and need-based fairness.[my emphasis]

My main objection was to the comment that somehow that implies I think “I am better than you,” which I don’t presume about anyone, especially those I don’t really know.

Mike678
Mike678
9 years ago

Actually, he didn’t recommend leaving “corpses to rot…” That was your interpretation–your strawman argument if you will. If you read the article again, you’d note he stated the BILL would be theirs alone IF they chose to act irresponsibly. No corpses, no rotting 🙂
I read your clip above. It reinforces my earlier point. Progressives often THINK they are showing more caring and empathy as they take from the responsible and give to the less responsible or “unempowered”). Theoretically,it sounds great. Utopia! But is assumes that all people are good and want to work, learn from their mistakes and succeed. When theory meets reality (not all people want to work or succeed), we enable poor choices and serial irresponsibility. What is crueler in the long run? Generations of wasted potential or a little tough love up front?

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“Actually, he didn’t recommend leaving ‘corpses to rot…’ That was your interpretation–your strawman argument if you will… he stated the BILL would be theirs alone IF they chose to act irresponsibly”
Yeah, I certainly chose colorful language. But medical expense is something I know more than a bit about. The fact is, that’s already the case. The bill is yours alone selt belt or not. But when people don’t pay and sometimes they don’t, those costs are passed along to those who do. The alternative is to deny service as I colorfully suggested. That’s the reality of what he suggested, whether he realized it or not. I’m picturing EMTs rushing to an accident scene and frantically searching for a credit card amongst the wreckage.
And, yes, I get the tough love thing (not so different than my father’s worldview). I just don’t see the world quite that way. Lakoff talks about how we all view the world in part using each frame. For instance, some may be a strict parent at home but collaborative work. It’s not black or white.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Progressivism is really awesome and all when everyone agrees on what is best for an individual. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get the person what they need, and government is the easiest tool to do that, even if not the most efficient. It’s when progressives think something is best for an individual and that person *disagrees* that we start getting some really horrific intrusion into privacy, property, and personal decision-making. But progressives don’t care about what rights they trample on because they are the enlightened, they know what’s best for everyone, the ends *always* justify the means in their philosophy, and that’s the end of it.

Monique
Monique(@monique-chartier)
Editor
9 years ago

“they know what’s best for everyone”
Don’t forget the other motive: fairness. Heaven save us from a well-intentioned person determined to make this or that situation “fair”.

OldTimeLefty
9 years ago

Monique,
Are you talking about yourself? You constantly state that “smaller” government is best for everyone.
Indeed, it is good to pray that heaven save us from well-intentioned people as long as you include yourself as one.
OldTimeLefty

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

“But progressives don’t care about what rights they trample on because they are the enlightened, they know what’s best for everyone, the ends *always* justify the means in their philosophy, and that’s the end of it.”
Oh, nonsense. Talk about your strawman arguments.
As for the rest, I don’t doubt that many on the fringe right care little if the system is fair. Well, that is, assuming they don’t end up with the short end of the stick… then watch out! Let the moaning begin.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Consider the outcry from many progressives about this…
“The Obama DOJ and strip searches”
http://www.salon.com/2012/04/03/the_obama_doj_and_strip_searches/

Numerous progressive commentators are lambasting the Supreme Court for its 5-4 ruling yesterday in Florence v. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders, and rightfully so. The 5-judge conservative faction held that prison officials may strip-search anyone arrested even for the most minor offenses before admitting them to the general population of a jail or prison, even in the absence of a shred of suspicion that they are carrying weapons or contraband.

I take it the SCOTUS is packed full of progressives, eh?

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