They’re Wasting Our Money With The Seat Belt Campaign

Oscar noted earlier today how stupid a lot of those nanny-state ads you see everywhere are.

The best, or worst, as the case may be, example of what he’s talking about is this atrocious “Click it or ticket” campaign the federal government is foisting on the public with the help of the states.

In Louisiana, we’re getting hit with this ad…

This one is running in Florida and Georgia…

And another one in Florida…

This one is running in Illinois…

At least the last one attempts to get a message across that it’s safer to wear a seatbelt. The others? Basically, they’re there to get in your face and let you know that if you don’t wear a seatbelt the cops will punish you for it and that you’re going to endure harrassment and scrutiny until they feel like letting up on you.

In other words, they’re going to take your tax dollars, plus some money from the Chinese, and use it to intimidate you.

You can argue about seat belts and whether they ought to be the law. I don’t have all that firm a position on the question. I wear one; it’s habit at this point, and I get irritated at the bell the dashboard rings repeatedly when the seatbelt isn’t buckled. But if somebody else doesn’t wear one that’s really their problem, isn’t it? You can make a public safety argument; I’m semi-convinced by that.

But if our federal government wants to promote responsibility, maybe it ought to consider passing a budget – any budget. A budget which is balanced would be a good idea. That would indicate that maybe us shlubs out here in flyover country should care what our betters in Washington say.

Because spending $7 billion a year we don’t have on promoting seat belt usage in the name of responsibility more or less attacks one’s credibility. Is it fair to say that?

Walter Williams, several years ago when the federal government was spending 1/14th of what they’re spending now on this asininity, had this precisely right

“Click It or Ticket” represents another bold step along the road to serfdom. History knows of no totalitarianism agenda where noble goals weren’t used as justification. Nazis used “for the good of the German Volk” and the Soviets used “for the good of the proletariat” as their justification. Health and safety have become the American justification for attacks on liberty.

In a free society, each person owns himself. As such, he has the broad discretion to make his own choices regardless of what others think of the wisdom of his choices. He has the right to take chances with his own health and safety. However, if an American doesn’t own himself, and it’s Congress that owns him, he doesn’t have those rights. Thus, the “Click It or Ticket” program is simply Congress’ way of caring for its property, the American people.

Whether seatbelt usage is a good idea is beside the point, for daily exercise, nutritious meals, eight hours sleep, and cultural and intellectual enrichment might also be good ideas. The point is whether government has a right to coerce us into taking care of ourselves.

If eating what we wish is our business and not that of government, then why should we accept government’s coercing us to wear seatbelts? America’s tyrants might answer, “We just haven’t gotten around to dictating diets yet.”

Some might argue, but falsely so, that the problem with people exercising their liberty to drive without seatbelts, ride motorcycles without helmets or eat in unhealthy ways is that if they become injured or sick, society will be burdened with higher health-care costs. That’s not a problem of liberty but one of socialism.

There’s no liberty-based argument for forcing one person to care for the needs of another. Under socialism, one is obliged to care for another. A parent-child relationship emerges between the citizen and the government. That was not the vision of our Founders.

If states want to pass laws requiring seat belt usage, fine. States have to balance their budgets and states deal with the consequences of citizen behavior within their borders. The federal government has absolutely no responsibility or legitimate interest in wasting our tax dollars to deluge us with TV spots attempting to intimidate us into a given behavior – legally required or not.

And if you want to start looking for places where the federal budget can be cut, “Click it or ticket” seems like a winner. Smaller deficits, less government harrassment? Sounds almost like the principles the country was founded on, no?



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