Our rights do not originate with government, but they are to be "secured" by government.
Formerly: Libertarian Party of Citrus county

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's For Your Own Good

by Tom Rhodes, 12/28/2011

Big Brother now wants to control every aspect of everything you do, of course all for your own good. We have been warned by our founding fathers and many others over the decades, but C.S. Lewis summed it up best when he said;

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

The government never looks at the good people get from their activities, only what the government can get out of the peoples actions, or the political hay they can make. Consider the recent announcement by National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman, who called for states to mandate a total ban on cell phone usage while driving.

Hersman wants electronics manufacturers, – via The Wireless Association and the Consumer Electronics Association, to develop features that "disable the functions of portable electronic devices within reach of the driver when a vehicle is in motion." She wants the government to be able turn off your cell phone while you're driving. Of course if they can turn it off then, they can turn it off whenever they want.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that there were some 3,092 roadway fatalities last year that involved distracted drivers. Not just people texting or using their cell phones but driving while distracted, according to the NTSB’s own web site, “distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety”. These types of distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

    The web page doesn't say what part of distracted driving came from cell phone use in vehicles, but considering all the other distractions while driving counted in the 3,092 roadway fatalities last year it is significantly less than the total, and probably less than 1000. The same web site shows a press release (LINK) that “2010 fatality and injury data showing that highway deaths fell to 32,885 for the year, the lowest level since 1949. The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even as American drivers traveled nearly 46 billion more miles during the year, an increase of 1.6 percent over the 2009 level.” Think about that. 46 billion is 1.6 percent of what?

    Answer: About 3 Trillion miles every year. So the number of highway deaths associated with distracted driving normalized per MILLION miles driven is 0.001. That means for every million miles Americans drive there is 0.001 deaths from distracted driving, and only a part of those are related to cell phones. That means for every BILLION miles we drive only 1 person dies as a resulted of distracted driving, and only a fraction of those are related to cell phones. Considering the BILLIONs of times people use cell phones driving, the benefit in saved time, effort, efficiency, etc. associated with enhanced communications will be lost. How many lives are saved by a doctor getting a call while driving and changing his course to get to the hospital instead of her original destination? All of those benefits will be lost if Big Brother Gets his way.

    This is one of the proverbial camel getting its nose in the tent problems. Government ALWAYS does more and takes away more freedom when given a little. Soon drivers won’t be able to talk to passengers, or use a car radio, or sip a drink while driving. Imagine how much money trucking companies save, and hence consumers save because a truck driver can have a drink of water while driving instead of having to stop his big rig and get off the interstate every half hour or so. Imagine if a cop sees you putting on lipstick at a stop light and you get a ticket for “distracted driving.” Don’t say it won’t happen. The government has a history of going way farther than it promised.

    Consider the government lie from 1966 which is now a major economic disaster that may cripple the country. In 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion. President Johnson and Congress told us Medicare would cost an inflation-adjusted $12 billion by 1990. Reality Check, Medicare was over $107 billion, almost ten fold more than promised. We now spend over $523 billion on Medicare and it will continue to grow faster than we can pay. The 2009 Medicare trustees report shows that the unfunded Medicare liability is $89 trillion. That original Medicare cost estimates were the lie the Government used to buy into their agenda, Medicare was the camel’s nose that allowed the government into controlling healthcare.

    From Income tax (originally promised to tax only the rich), to no child left behind, to EPA, the regulations all for our own good, do not take into consideration the costs those regulations will put on everybody. Distracted driving is not a good thing, but even with cell phones, navigation systems, and all the other distractions we have driving, we have far fewer deaths and injury than in our past. Cell phone use in cars is just another boogey man that the government is using to control us “for our own good.”

    Consider the fact that around 24,000 people die every year from falls, and 82% of those are over the age of 65 (source ). Using the logic that the government is using to try and outlaw cell phone use in cars, they should be allowed to force old people to wear not slip footwear 24/7 and force changes in bathtub design, and force all those over 65 to constantly use a walker whether they need it or not. Life is not risk free. Six times more senior citizens die from a simple fall than from distracted driving, and only a small part of distracted driving is related to cell phones. At what point do we say enough is enough. Let us live our own lives the way we feel is in our own best interest.

    The government’s job isn’t to protect us from ourselves, but to protect our rights. It can and should hold us accountable if our risks hurt another, but not unless there is some actual damage, the mere idea that an action might cause damage is not the legal or moral grounds to outlaw that action. Just as we cannot arrest a person who might steal something they must actually steal it before they have committed a crime, we cannot and should not restrict what people do prior to that person actually damaging another. A fatality rate of less than 0.001 per BILLION miles driven does not justify restricting the rights of millions of people who can and do use cell phones while driving millions of times per day safely. Imagine if vaccines had to be so safe that only 1 in a billion uses resulted in a death. No vaccine could be used and none of the benefits of a vaccines could be realized if they were forced to have the same safety record that cell phone use while driving has.

    As Americans we should all oppose National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman’s proposal to outlaw cell phone use in cars. It is a risk, and taking risks or not taking risks should be the decision of the individual. The government shouldn’t determine what risks you are allowed to take. That is tyranny.

    From a Libertarian perspective, the LPF Platform states, "Government should confine itself to protecting individuals from aggression, coercion and deceit. We oppose all laws and regulations that attempt to protect individuals from the consequences of their own behaviour." Basically the old adage of “no harm, no foul” so long as your actions don’t result in the harm to anybody else you should be free to do as you please. That however goes with the responsibility of being accountable for any actions you take that do harm another; hence because driving a car is not a right, and the potential to do harm in excess of an average person’s wealth to repay, the requirement to demonstrate both the ability to operate a motor vehicle, and the ability to pay for any damages (insurance) you may do to another as a result of operating that vehicle are reasonable restrictions. However, it is not reasonable to limit your radio, cup holder, navigation device, or cell phone while driving that vehicle. Although sipping a cup of coffee while driving is a slightly risky behavior, you should only be accountable for any damages you cause another, not limited in your behavior if it might cause damage to another.

    Whether it be salt, trans-fats, drugs, prostitution, or booze, our country has and is experimenting with prohibition in order to mitigate risks. All have proven costly, resulting in huge government intrusion into our private lives, and are failing to mitigate the risky behavior the government has sought to control. What these laws and regulations that are sincerely enacted for the good of it’s the people do is oppress the people of this country. Prohibition of risks that people want to take, and will take, has never in the history of man, ever resulted in anything but more central control in the name of good, and less freedom and liberty. C.S. Lewis was right when he said, "those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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