Who is the law protecting? (More thoughts about the seat-belt etc)

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A while back there was a posting by someone who thought that the law was being intrusive by requiring them to wear a seat belt - the line of thinking being that said poster did not need help (not wish it) in protecting themselves and did not think that the government should care or have a right to pretend to care whether she belted or not.

There was much debate over this, mainly centering on two topics. The first was the it's my life and I'll die if I want to vs the Yeah, but who pays until then (I believe that the phrase "brain dead carcass" was bantered about). Another topic was the belief that the gvt. was using these sorts of stops to "keep and eye" on folks, (there seemed to be a lot of places "asking" for your SS# during those stops).

Along these topic lines, I would like to point out that the law rarely, if ever, makes a law prohibiting something that affects only the doer. I am not talking about old and unenforced antique laws like the antique laws prohibiting suicide - although if you have a family, or haven't made an effort to "go" neatly and with an adequate amount of cash nearby to cover your last expenses, then you are still impinging on others when you do so.

Case in point. No one, and I mean no one, has any legal grounds against you if you decide to cut off your own hand, provided that you either pay for your own care, without relying on insurance - and therefore the pooled resources of others, or have the necessary medical skills to do the job well enough so that you are not "beholden" to anybody to fix your fix, as it were. This assumes, of course, that you have no intention of claiming disability or handicap priviledges.

Of course, if you have kids, who rely upon you for their care and welbeing (both physical and mental), then this situation is different. You could be removed from them unless and until it is proven that you are not a danger to them and are completely capable of caring for yourself and them.

I believe that if you look at a vast majority of the laws out there,you will find that the infringement of personal preferences and behaviours is mostly limited only when it has the opportunity to infringe on others' rights without their knowledge, permission, or express wishes one way or the other.

On the matter of abuse of what laws ther are, well that is the way things have been for ages and we have always been able to curb the worst excesses, given time. No one oppressive regime or behaviour has usually outlasted its sponsoring despot and our laws are even more exposed to change and updating as our gvt changes hands at least every 8 years, if not oftener. Yes, abuse happens and it always will until people feel no need to resort to power tactics to achieve their ends - until everybody has what they need (food, shelter, clothing, comfort, security, life fullfillment) without fighting for it. And that, my friends, is ultimaltely up to us. And in that same vein, when people would never think of engaging in behaviours that could end up hurting or taking resources from other people, then (and only then) will these laws will die, both through disuse and unneccessity.

-- Soni (thomkilroy@hotmail.com), February 21, 2001


Soni, once again you give an interesting perspective. I enjoy your thoughts and good humor. Maybe the hand amputation isn't the best example. I think if you show up in an Er w/ your hand in a bag, regardlss of your resources, you would not be feeling the wind on your face for a long while. As soon as you were medically stable it would be off the mental hygene area. I understand the concept though.

I do wonder about your last paragraph. We live in a country where even poor folks have cable tv. Nobody should be hungry here. there are programs out the wahzoo to support those in need. Don't misunderstand me, I think we should help those who need it. But most people could have the Food, Shelter, Clothing (I don't know about life fulfillment) in our society today w/o fighting for it. I think there's just a certain number of people who are just turds. Always been that way, probably always will.

-- John in S. IN (jsmengel@hotmail.com), February 21, 2001.

Good summation, John. "Some people are just turds..."

The thing that gets me Soni, is that there are so many laws now trying to protect people from LIFE. Our legislators make new laws everyday, and it doesn't make people any better. We don't have the need for anymore laws, we have the need for a change of heart.

When someone has an accident and sues as an easy way to make some extra money, it just escalates all the laws. I know a guy who bumped his knee and sued for 75k...he got thirty, and NOTHING was wrong with his knee!!! This kind of behaviour is one of the many that causes more legislation.

Most laws are just a commodity for government, fines, fees, licences, etc. I have never known a business to voluntarily cut it's profit making potential. If we can't even follow the golden rule, how are we to follow twenty thousand smaller rules?

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@excite.com), February 22, 2001.


I believe that seat belts should be a choice. It has been suggested that "seat belt" law was enacted to provide yet another income for LEA. Several officers here in NC has alluded that they do have a "quota" of seat-belt tickets each month. They call it the candy tickets.

Either way the fines in NC & SC range from $35 to $90 depending on which county your in.

-- Kenneth in N.C. (wizardsplace13@hotmail.com), February 22, 2001.

"Yes, abuse happens and it always will until people feel no need to resort to power tactics to achieve their ends - until everybody has what they need (food, shelter, clothing, comfort, security, life fullfillment) without fighting for it."

The only way to have ALL of those things is to take responsibility for yourself. No, you shouldn't have to "fight" for these things - as in doing hand-to-hand combat. But you should have to "fight" for them - as in taking upon yourself the responsibility to achieve them, working for them yourself and not leaving it up to someone else to give them to you.

"And in that same vein, when people would never think of engaging in behaviours that could end up hurting or taking resources from other people, then (and only then) will these laws will die, both through disuse and unneccessity."

Therein lies the problem. Though I do long to live in a perfect world where no one is so selfish and greedy that they don't care who they hurt to get what they want, where everyone works together to gain the things they need, where "people feel no need to resort to power tactics to achieve their ends", I don't really believe that it will ever happen.

Then again, would it really be so great to live in a world like that? "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." If the world was just peachy keen and we didn't have to "fight" (as in either of the above meanings of the word), we would never have the chances that the "fights" give us to grow stronger. And wouldn't we then be just a bunch of weaklings?

-- Wingnut (wingnut@moment.net), February 22, 2001.

Seat belt laws like all laws have to have 2 things Reason & Backing, good or bad they all have to have a reason & then backing. #1 reason for laws,Protection! either us,country,property,etc. if you look at 95% of the laws they are there to protect something or someone.Seat belt laws have the 100% backing (money/etc.) of all insurance companies,WHY! Protection,to protect their assets. So they don't have to pay out anymore then they have to. (in reality it is our assets,since we pay for insurance, they do not pay us to insure us.) The same can be said for the,shoot all the deer you can, hunting laws in some states nowadays (especially Michigan) Why are the insurance companys in favor of doing away with all deer, Bingo - Protection of their assets by lowering deer/car accident claims. The problem with most of the new laws coming about now is because we have lost all common sense in our everyday living, have you ever noticed the 25 stickers on step-ladders today,there our people out there that do not even know how to use one properly,and when they don't they sue,and then another law is passed to protect them people from them mean and nasty step-ladders,(like a sticker is going to help)

-- Tom (tjk@cac.net), February 22, 2001.

If we stop idiot-proofing our world, will we run out of idiots?

Would we survive the experiment?

-- Laura (gsend@hotmail.com), February 23, 2001.

Laura, Remember that "Stupidity is a sexually transmitted disease, often terminal"

-- John in S. IN (jsmengel@hotmail.com), February 23, 2001.

"Stupidity is sexually transmitted"? I know insanity is hereditary, we catch it from our children.

-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), February 24, 2001.

kenneth- your choice to wear/notwear a seatbelt is your choice if you are the only person in the car. do you know when my dad started wearing a seatbelt? he had a friend that refused to wear a seatbelt although he made his children wear them. they wear involved in an accident, the man was ejected from his seat and went flying around the car. he ended up severely injuring his one child and killed the other from the impact of his body. sounds strange but very true. so it is important to remember that our choices do not always affect just ourselves.

-- amber (ambrosia75_@hotmail.com), February 24, 2001.

John H. Of course it's sexually transmitted. Our nation subsidizes the stupid, ignorant, lazy, lame, unwilling and ungrateful. Paying them for every offspring they create, passing on those traits to the next generation. No one who wanted to raise fine horses, cattle, sheep, etc, would engage in a breeding program that routinely works to downgrade the stock.

-- John in S. IN (jsmengel@hotmail.com), February 24, 2001.

Not only your nation John....

-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), February 25, 2001.

When Minnesota came out with the mandatory seat belt law I complained loudly. I still wonder about our governments real reason for the law because our protection isnt it( my opinion lol). One day I finally gave in and decided to wear them because it seemed silly to pay for my insurance and then negate it with no seat belt. Two weeks later I rolled my car. 50 miles an hour I hit black ice and rolled so smooth...like a ballet. I was not hurt at all. Not a scratch or pulled muscle. This summer I lost a friend to a wreck, no seat belts. My daughters best friend rolled her car and is paralysed for life ( unless there is some scientific breakthru). No seatbelts. My kids lost a friend to a roll over, no seat belts... I hate as much as anyone to have a government who has proven time and again our safety is not really thier agenda telling me how to live. Yet truth is truth, seat belts save lives.

-- leeann ellenson (ellenson@paulbunyan.net), February 26, 2001.

Leeann, seatbelts definitely save lives. they saved my entire family's life this past summer when we had a bad collision. We always use our seatbelts. However, I still think wearing a belt should be a choice, not a law (for adults who are capable of making a conscious choice). In our society, we tend to do a lot of legislating, when educating may be just as effective.

-- amy (acook@in4web.com), February 26, 2001.

Laws are required that vehicles have seatbelts. Laws are required that children be seatbelted. Laws should not be required for adults to use them. This should be a choice. There should however be laws to exempt companys from law suits for those who choose not to use seat belts and are injured, but no law should require a seatbelt for an adult.

-- Gary (gws@redbird.net), February 27, 2001.

Whose choice should it be if there is to be a choice? The person who doesn't want to wear the belt, or the person in their medical insurance group or tax disdrict who doesn't want to be negatively financially affected by the decision? Both have a similarly vested interest in the choice to be made. Although it seems at first glance that if you died or were injured because you decided not to wear a seat belt, that your emotional and financial toll would be greater than that of a co-premium payer or taxpayer, think again. Because insurance is so costly (due, in large part, to the skyrocketing cost of "breakthrough" lifesaving and maintaining techniques) many go without, dying earlier due to less preventive health care and other related problems, and ending up suffering more than the brain dead carcass in room 213B over the long run as they put off, over and over again seeing a dr. until it's bad enough to go to the emergency room, where they will eventually end up sitting next to your family as your family waits to hear of your condition, spreading goodness knows what to your family and costing your family and your insurance company more (and thrugh them, you) more to treat a serious, if not chronic, illness that a cheaper premium and a 10 dollar co-pay (that would have otherwise been available due to lesser insurance demands) would have caught long before.

-- Soni (thomkilroy@hotmail.com), February 27, 2001.

Some of you have mention that there should be seat belt laws for children, but while almost all the states have laws telling PARENTS what to do in their own cars with their own children. Very,very few states if any have laws regarding children wearing seat belts in the number 1 public transportation system of children - - School Buses!!! So its the same old story again, the government thinks John/Joan Q- public have to be told what is good for us and protect us from ourselves,in our private lives and increase the price of cars, while at the same time schools districts cry a little about the money it would take to put in seat belts and state governments exempt them from having to do it. I just find it amazing that in 2001 so many people in this country are just wanting to take the easy road and do what they are told and give up their freedom for security. After all the past people (revolutionary war,world wars,civil war,being jailed,shot,etc.)of this country have done to protect our freedoms and now the mass majority simply want to do what government tells them to do as long as we are cared for and protected. Remember the Nazis told the Jews/Polish people they were just going to take a shower!!!! they were being care for too!

-- Tom (tjk@cac.net), February 27, 2001.

DAMN, State cop got the wife and I. No seatbelts. $77 dollars each. Thank you the great state of Oregon. I do strongly feel it should be my choice. The arguement that not wearing a belt may impact others in society, well let's just outlaw vehichles, that would save a lot of negative impacts on society. How about alcohol, cigarettes, fatty foods, too much sun. Almost everything we do impacts society. What I do that most directly impacts me should be my choice.

-- jz (oz49us@yahoo.com), February 28, 2001.

Here is an article from a file I keep of "You should give up your rights because its good for you" arguments...

Bit by bit, Americans are giving up their freedom

San Jose Mercury
Nov. 17, 1998 Jeff Jacoby

Published Tuesday, November 17, 1998, in the San Jose Mercury News

Bit by bit, Americans are giving up their freedom

Nation's lifestyle police target the food you eat


YOU didn't object when they forced motorcyclists to wear helmets. It's for their own good, you figured. And it was no skin off your nose, since you don't ride motorcycles anyway.

You didn't protest when they passed mandatory seat-belt laws. You couldn't see what the big deal was -- after all, you've always buckled up.

You didn't say anything when they pushed tobacco ads off the air, or when they drove up the price of cigarettes with sin taxes, or when they tried to classify nicotine as a drug. Smoking, you believed, is nasty and unhealthy; why shouldn't the government discourage it?

You kept quiet when they made air bags compulsory. When they passed laws to keep adults from owning guns. When they tried to censor the Internet. Yes, all of these eroded Americans' freedom to make decisions for themselves. And yes, they further empowered the government to regulate the way we live our lives. But none of them discommoded you personally, so you didn't see any reason to speak out.

Do you think the lifestyle police will stop goose-stepping when they get to something you do care about?

Meet Kelly Brownell. He directs the Center for Eating and Weight disorders at Yale, and he doesn't like your diet. ``The contribution of diet to poor health in America is staggering,'' he says. ``It's an epidemic.''

Brownell doesn't stop there. He isn't satisfied with trying to persuade you to eat less junk food. He wants Big Brother to make you eat less junk food. In a dispatch this month, the Associated Press reports: "Brownell believes the government should subsidize the sale of healthy food, increase the cost of non-nutritional foods through taxes, and regulate food advertising to discourage unhealthy practices.''

In the name of ``public health,'' the anti-tobacco bullies have gotten away with restricting speech, crushing freedom of choice, penalizing the consumers of a lawful product, and demonizing the sellers of that product. Brownell thinks the food bullies should be able to do no less.

``To me,'' he has said, ``there is no difference between Ronald McDonald and Joe Camel.'' Pause to recall the hysterical outrage that R.J. Reynolds' cartoon figure evoked -- a Washington Post columnist called Joe Camel ads ``as dangerous as putting rat poison in a candy wrapper'' -- and you get a sense of just how far Brownell would like to go.

Societies do not usually lose their freedom at a blow. They give it up bit by bit, letting themselves be tied down with an infinity of little knots. As rules and regulations increase, their range of action is gradually compressed. Their options slowly lessen. Without noticing the change, they become wards of the state. They still imagine themselves free, but in a thousand and one ways, their choices are limited and guided by the authorities. And always, there are what seem to be sensible reasons for letting their autonomy be peeled away -- ``safety,'' ``health,'' ``social justice,'' ``equal opportunity.''

It is easy to grow accustomed to docility. That is why eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Not because liberty is easy to shatter. But because it can be softened and dismantled with the acquiescence of the very men and women from whom it is being stolen.

Many Americans no longer understand this, which is why the government now dictates everything from the words that may appear on wine labels to the volume of water toilets may flush. But Brownell and his ilk understand it very well. To those who snicker at his goal of hitting snack-food makers with heavy taxes and forbidding the use of Ronald McDonald in advertising, Brownell has a reply:

``If 20 years ago somebody had said, `I predict that states will recover health care costs from the tobacco industry for deaths; I predict that an icon of smoking advertising, Joe Camel, would be banned from billboards,' people would have said, `Oh, that's horrible government intrusion.' What is now taken for granted, 20 years ago would have been thought of as impossible.''


Watch as it unfolds. Already other voices have taken up Brownell's call. The Center for Science in the Public Interest -- the food fanatics who periodically issue reports denouncing movie popcorn and Chinese food -- declares that ``diet and lack of exercise kill as many people as tobacco'' and agrees that a tax on Big Macs and Double Stuf Oreos ``makes eminent sense.'' Hanna Rosin writes in The New Republic that a tax on fatty foods ``can actually be a less intrusive policy than regulating tobacco,'' and asks, ``Is it really such a crazy idea?'' US News & World Report hails the ``Twinkie tax'' as one of ``16 Silver Bullets: Smart Ideas to Fix the World.''

Soon you'll hear about all the children whose lives will be cut short because they got hooked on junk food at an early age. You'll see references to the 300,000 people ``killed'' each year by fatty diets. In time there will be lawsuits and congressional hearings and moving testimony by the ``victims'' of chocolate and butterfat. Politicians, sensing another interest group to pander to, will demand strict controls over candy ads. Ben and Jerry will be transformed from kindly Vermont hippies to foul peddlers of heart disease.

Preposterous, you say! Laughable! Absurd! Philip Morris used to think so, too.

-- William in Wi (gnarledmaw@lycos.com), February 28, 2001.

Well, I haven't been here before... But the seat-belt law is one of my little pet peeves... Part of it is privacy, part is self-protection and part of it (vast majority) is because of insurance.

I've had several relatives killed in (2)car crashes over many years, and they were ALL wearing seat-belts. Two of them were literally cut in half. Don't try to tell me that seat-belts save lives. In one case, the doctors said that my grandfather would have been thrown from the car. Instead... He is dead.

I have a Mother with only one hand. She can't fasten a seat-belt very easily - and even if she could - one of those accident victims was her father. Doubt she ever would.

I pay my own medical bills. Even when I could get Public Aid. I foot all of my own bills. So, the arguement about insurance (which is THE biggest lying, corrupt, fraudulent, dirty dealing, conniving and UNCONSTITUTIONAL business in America) doesn't hold water with me. It was a lot cheaper for them to bury him than to pay for years in the hospital.

Look how the studies were done, and WHO did them!!! Yup - that's right!! Our good old American Government... in conjunction with the insurance company lobbyists. Go figure. (Just like gun laws, by the way.... asking felons in prison if they were for or against.....)

Tell me how big a deal it would be if the lawmakers and insurance companies weren't making a big buck off it... OR for that matter, your local police department.....

Don't get me wrong - I'm militant about a lot of things. Seat-belts have a use. Just not a MANDATORY use with FINES attached.

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), February 28, 2001.

Sue, I"m sorry to hear about your grandfather. Seatbelts indeed can contribute to car accident mortality. Seatbelts do save lives though. In fact, they saved my entire family from dying in an accident we had this past September. We were all injured but nothing major. If I hadn't been wearing a seatbelt, I would have gone through the windshield and no doubt suffered a severe brain injury among other things. Ancecdotal evidence aside, there is also sound quantitative evidence that belts save lives. However, the issue is...should someone be forced to wear them?

Our insurance industry is extremely unethical and corrupt, I agree. As a health care professional, I deal daily with the frustrations of our profit-driven system. It's great you pay your own bills yet could still use the programs of public assistance. Many people, however, feel comfortable having insurance in case they develop a catastrophic illness and require 24 hour care, or worse yet, nursing home admission. I work with people every day that struggle to stay at home but cannot afford the expensive care needed to remain at home. Without insurance they would probably be in a nursing home as Medicaid recipients (after losing everything). Most people dont' want to work their whole lives to end up dependent on "the system." Insurance is a gamble--you can pay those nasty premiums for your entire life and never need to call on it. But, in this day and age with crazy drivers, people living longer, and a toxic environment that probably is contributing to the increase in chronic illnesses such as cancer and auto-immune disorders, insurance may not be all that bad an idea. It's a matter of choice. As should be with seatbelts, I suppose. I feel the seatbelt laws are oppressive, don't get me wrong. But I don't think we can assume that seatbelts and insurance are bad ideas just because they are bad laws or bad programs. Many good ideas go bad.

-- amy (acook@in4web.com), March 01, 2001.

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