I was rather moved by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s public service message regarding seat belts. It’s the kind of message that really hits home: “I should be dead.”
He’s damned right. By all rights, he should be dead.
At the same time, I learn that the push for a mandatory seat belt law here in New Hampshire (the only state without one for adults) has suffered a hefty setback, and appears dead for this session.
Governor Corzine is a perfect symbol of why I oppose mandatory seat belt laws. Here is the GOVERNOR of a state with a very strong seat belt law who, it is reported, routinely flouted it. At the time of his crash, he was sitting right next to a state trooper — a law enforcement officer who, no doubt, has written plenty of no-seat-belt tickets in his career — and still he didn’t buckle up. For whatever reasons — vanity, a sense of indestructibility, arrogance, confidence in his driver, carelessness, the moon moving into the House of Scorpio — Corzine did not obey the laws of Man and for years escaped unpunished.
But there are other laws. Laws of Nature. Laws of God. Laws of probability. Laws of physics.
Those are the laws that he attempted to break, and he paid the price.
In his own words, he nearly paid the ultimate price.
And he’ll be paying that price for a very, very long time.
The law, in my opinion, has very little place in “protecting us from ourselves.” From preventing us from making poor decisions that don’t directly affect others. That should be solely the responsibility of ourselves, and those we grant say in our lives.
Not some lawmakers, some bureaucrats, some officious officials elsewhere indulging their nanny-state mentalities.
There is an argument that laws should affect “social costs” of our decisions, the price we inflict on society for our decisions. In the case of seat belts, the medical expenses incurred by the unbelted is the most frequent tool.
That is a very slippery slope. It’s a facile argument, but it’s too easily countered. If we’re going to put that kind of restriction on seat belt use, why not put it on tobacco? Smokers cost us a lot in health care, too.
How about alcohol? Setting aside alcoholism, loss of productivity, the havoc wreaked on families, and other factors, just drunk driving alone racks up a huge toll every year. Why not ban that again — this time, in the name of “social costs?”
Fatty foods? They’re already under assault, with cities banning trans fats in the name of “the public health.”
The crux of the pro-seat-belt argument, it seems to me, is “help us, Big Nanny Government! We’re too stupid or stubborn or ignorant to do what we know we should, so we want you to make us — and everyone else — do what we ought to!”
There are valid arguments for not wearing a seat belt. I knew a very short person who knew that if she got into the right kind of crash, she was dead. Thanks to mandatory seat belts and mandatory air bags, she — and other persons of her stature — were virtually guaranteed to have their necks broken when their seat belts held them in the perfect position and the air bags went off right under their chins.
I, personally, am a seat belt militant. I buckle up when I’m backing out of a garage. If you ride with me, you buckle up, too, or get your ass out of my car.
But that’s my choice, made because I might be an idiot on some things, seat belts are not one of them.