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What's Next? Government to Tie Our Shoes for Us?
by Rep. Jim Holm


February 08, 2006

Last month the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, a measure that takes away another slice of your freedom by making it a requirement, and a primary offense by failing, to fasten one's seatbelt in order to legally drive a motor vehicle on a highway. I think the principle behind such a law is just plain wrong.

The number one argument used in favor of this law is the assertion that it will save a significant number of lives. How can we prove that unless the circumstances of every accident are exactly the same? I remain unconvinced that allowing the government to reach in and buckle my seatbelt will result in my life being spared on the highway. It's this thread of thinking that would have us weave our laws into a code of protection; that laws be framed around a sense of protecting us from harm. I disagree. I believe our laws should protect us from governmental intrusion. This country was established under the pretense and with the spirit of preserving personal rights and liberties; to live as we will, with minimal governmental intrusion.

Considering the continual efforts to save people from killing themselves, to avoid costing the government and insurance companies money, for policies that are 'good for us,' for making the roads a safer place, etc., I suppose it could ultimately be concluded that everyone should be put safely in jail, secure from the hazards of day-to-day life, safe from each other, safe from the moose that might step out onto the road, safe from road-rage, safe from a falling meteorite... What's next? How long will it be before cameras are placed in public restrooms to enforce a hand-washing law? How about a tied shoe-lace law? Mandatory tooth-brushing? Fat-Free only foods? How about a ban on wearing neck-ties? Bunny-boots? Of course all of these enactments could be argued for under the banner of government keeping the public "safe."

Another contingency supporting this new law is the all-too-common rationale that 'other states are doing it' and that there are federal dollars attached to its passage; that by passing this law we are now entitled to a $3.7 million grant for vague "highway safety purposes." I'm growing tired of the enactment of laws for the purpose of accepting such money-morsels from the federal government, and thus being compliant with its agenda. Revenue generation is not a good reason to take away your right to choose. I see that as a way of selling off your rights.

We give people the opportunity to make themselves safe by buckling up. But we shouldn't make laws that say 'Well, you didn't keep yourself safe, so therefore you're going to be penalized for it." Our system of government is the best one ever invented because of the freedoms and opportunities inherent in that system. That includes freedoms of expression and of choice; and of opportunities, not just to succeed, but also to fail, including a failure to be safe.

I think we should all consider the base law, and that is to be responsible for one's self. As a driver I'm responsible for myself and for my passengers. I heartily endorse a personal program of always buckling up, of buckling up your children, and insisting that any passenger in your vehicle buckles up. However, I just as staunchly feel that every driver has the fundamental right to make his or her own choice of whether or not to do so. The government has no place in making that decision for you, nor should the government have the right to stop you on the highway just to check, and then fine you if you don't comply. But, effective May 01, 2006, that's what's going to happen. Sadly, we must prepare for more nanny-ism from our government.

About: Rep. Jim Holm (R) is a member of the 24th Alaska State Legislature representing District 9 - Fairbanks. He has resided in Alaska since 1946.




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