Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Right To Be Stupid

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!" ~ William Shakespeare

(I have pictures to post on this entry, but blogger won't upload them. Maybe I can edit them in later.)

The recent motorcycle wreck involving Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has spawned quite a debate about both the importance of wearing helmets and whether or not helmet laws should be in place.

For those of you as yet uninitiated, a helmet law is a law requiring that motorcyclists wear helmets when driving their motorcycles. It is, after all, for their own protection.

Yesterday, Glenn Beck brought up the point that Pennsylvania used to have a helmet law but that it was repealed in 2003 by a mostly Democrat state legislature. He blamed it on the Democrats.

Personally, I agree with the state legislature in this case. Let me explain why.

Most thinking people, people with brains, agree that wearing a helmet is a wise thing to do when riding motorcycles. As do I. Accordingly, wearing seat belts in cars is a wise thing to do. And child safety restraint systems in cars, and even in shopping carts are pretty wise for those who have concerns about the safety of their children.

But does the government have the right to force us to implement these safety measures?

Don't the people in America have a right to be stupid if they so desire? Isn't that part of the freedoms we are supposed to enjoy here in the land of the free? The right to be stupid?

I often say that Liberalism, to me, stems from the idea that since the majority of people are not smart enough to take care of themselves, the government must take care for them. I think this is one of the basic tenets of Liberalism. In Laura Ingrahams book, "Shut Up and Sing" , the very first line states, "they (meaning Liberals)think we're stupid". (Actually, it could read "they think you're stupid", I don't remember which.) Either way, the point is clear.

The unfortunate fact is, many people in America are stupid. But don't they/we have that right? The right to be stupid?

OK, so that's my point. Helmet laws force people who don't want to wear a helmet to wear them. If a helmet were to prevent serious injury or death, of course, that is a good thing, but if a rider isn't wearing one, and it causes him to die because of his own stupidity, he has that right, in my opinion.

There is a series of books based on a Liberal author's idea that people who remove themselves from the gene pool by dying because they did things requiring a singular stupidity should receive special recognition. It is called "The Darwin Awards" . I ran across a copy of the 3rd book in the series on the clearance shelf at Waldenbooks, and bought it simply because it was only $1.99 at the time. It is humorous, but nothing to rave about, in my opinion.

People who refuse to wear helmets, or for that matter, seat belts, and die in accidents because of it, should receive at least honorable mention for the Darwin Awards, but don't because the sad fact is, Those kinds of deaths are far too common.

Now, let me add here, that I see insurance the same way. We all agree that it's a damned good idea to carry insurance. Health insurance, life insurance, home insurance, and especially car insurance. But should we be forced to carry it by law?

I don't think so.

I know that's a radical thought but stay with me on this one.

I cannot get my car registered without having insurance. I cannot get license tags. I essentially drive my car illegally if I don't carry car insurance. It is law in this state and most other states to carry car insurance. Failure to carry car insurance in this state results in the loss of driving privileges and several stiff fines and fees. If I let my car insurance coverage lapse even one day, it is an immediate $150.00 fine, and something like $3.00 a day thereafter until the insurance is re-instated.

I believe it is a violation of my rights to force me to buy car insurance.

For one thing, When the law requires one to buy his own insurance, it is basically the textbook definition of extortion. If the law is going to require us to have insurance, the government should be the one that supplies it, and at affordable rates. The way it is now, except for government ceilings on insurance fees, insurance companies can conceivably charge whatever ridiculous fees they want.

It is free money for the insurance companies. With the Governments blessing. Not a bad racket if you can get in on it.

Yes, it is very wise to carry insurance. Yes, it can save you an immense amount of expenses should you have an accident. Yes, if you have an accident you will be out a tremendous amount of money, not to mention your mode of transportation, if you don't carry insurance. All these things are true.

But does the government have the right to compel you, against your will, to buy insurance? I think not.

If someone has an accident and isn't carrying insurance, shouldn't just reaping the consequences of stupidity be enough of a reason for him to buy insurance for himself? Having a serious accident without insurance would certainly be costly enough for him to make sure he doesn't get behind the wheel of a vehicle again. For one thing, he wouldn't be able to afford to fix the one he has, let alone be able to buy another one. Especially if his reason for not having insurance in the first place is because he can't afford it.

But what about the other driver, you might ask? The responsible one. The one who was smart enough to carry insurance on his vehicle. Well, that is a good reason to require insurance, I suppose.

But there is a way he can avoid costly repair fees, health care, and various other expenses from an accident.

All insurance policies should be no-fault. Meaning, whether the insured is the one at fault for the accident or someone else, the insurance the responsible driver has bought should make the reparations. But only for him. The uninsured driver must find a way to pay his own bill caused because he exercised his right to be stupid.

Lastly, getting back to the helmet law question, Let's at least require some consistency here. If the law requires seat belts and child safety restraints in cars, and insurance, then it should require motorcyclists to wear helmets.

If the law doesn't require helmets, than it shouldn't require safety belts and child safety harnesses and insurance either.

I am in favor of the latter, not because I want to drive without insurance or seat belts or helmets. But because I believe that we Americans have the right to choose to be safe or not.

We have an inherent, God-given right to be stupid.


Lone Ranger said...

One of the unforseen consequences of helmet laws is they cause a shortage of organs for donation. This is where liberal "logic" is shredded. They insist on child safety seats to save children, but the favor unlimited abortion, killing far more millions of children than accidents do. They insist on helmet and seat belt laws, but they see nothing wrong with euthanasia to get rid of people who are tired of living or too brain-damaged to feed themselves. It isn't the people who don't want to wear a helmet who are stupid.

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

I agree....but:

Some stupid behaviour affects others.

While helmet-laws are purely personal, lack of insurance coverage--if one is unable to pay for damages one causes--affects others.

It's okay to be stupid if it affects only you, but when it affects's really a different story.

GAWD! I hope I'm not sounding like a liberal here!

tugboatcapn said...

While we're at it, shouldn't we require seat belts and child safety seats on Motorcycles as well?

How about Steel Toe Shoes?

Or Body Armour?

Why not require all passengers of Automobiles to wear Helmets? People die of Head Injuries in Auto Accidents all the time.

My point is, where is the line? And who gets to draw it?

And if you believe that Government Mandated Idiot Proofing is a good thing, and can never be taken too far, try using a brand new Lawn Mower.

Poison Pero said...

Glad to see I'm not the only one having problem with pics here at blogger.

That said, I love Ben. He's a great leader, and an excellent QB.......but he's a dumbass for riding without a helmet.

I can't stand them crotch-rockets....It's hard enough driving in a big city without them damn cycles buzzing around.

He's a lucky SOB. Losing some chicklets and bone damage is nothing compared to what he could have suffered.

But it's not the state's job to protect morons from everything.......If the state won't protect us from sex offenders, murderers, and illegals, then why do they feel the need to protect us from being stupid if we don't want to wear helmets?

Trader Rick said...

It's irritating about the image uploading, eh? But then, Blogger let's me use the site for FREE, so I can't really complain.

As far as the pandemic of stupidity goes, we think roughly half thye votors in this nation are genetic morons. And most of the people in local, state and Federal government positions intelligent, but insane.

The reason we can't allow the government to define stupidity for us is that it's a matter of opinion. We think the commie-dem-libs have no sense, and they think we Pro-American types have no sense...

Daffy76 said...

What burns me about the whole argument is that the government thinks it cares more about my safety and the safety of my children than I do myself.

About a year ago, NC changed its child safety seat law from requiring children to be in a booster seat until they are 4 years old or weigh 40 pounds to 8 years old or 80 pounds. You can't tell me that car manufacturers can't make cars safe for a 5 year old child to ride in. The bottom line is no matter how you buckle your kids in, there is a certain amount of danger to riding in a car. I think having to ride in a car seat until you are 8 years old is ridiculous. But I comply with the law.

I remember standing on the front seat of my dad's Plymouth Duster securely behind his right shoulder as he drove. And I have survived all the way to the grand old age of 29. I think more money should be spent in training people to drive well.

Erudite Redneck said...

I agree with D.daddio!
Hoo hoo, ha ha. His point is sound: If my stupidity causes damange or harm to others, and the others have to pay for it, then it's not *just* my stupidity is it? That's not "liberal." That's ... dang it, I can't remember the actual name of the economic principle. But it's not "liberal."

Mark said...

No ER, and Daddo\io. I covered that....make all insurance completely no fault. whoever is at fault, the insurance pays the one who was smart enough to have insurance and the stupid one has to pay. He gets what he deserves and so does the smart guy.

tugboatcapn said...

Liability Insurance should be attached to your Drivers License, not your car. That way, anything you wreck will be covered by your Insurance, no matter who it belongs to.

I don't care whether you have one car or fifteen, you cannot drive but one at a time.

Collision Insurance should be offered at the Bank when the Loan for the car is written, and rolled into the car payment. If you pay cash for your car, or pay your car off, and you want to continue Collision Coverage, then you could contact the Insurance company yourself.

These plans will never be implimented, however. They would cost the Insurance Companies way too much money, and Insurance Companies are the absolute most powerful Political Lobby in America.

If you are looking for a 'Culture of Corruption", look there.

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

Liability Insurance should be attached to your Drivers License, not your car. That way, anything you wreck will be covered by your Insurance, no matter who it belongs to."--Cap'n

Great idea!

But remember--government's requirement for any form of insurance is forced gaming at heart.

The government mandates that its citizens play a game of chance.

That's what sucks.

Etchen said...

Hey-I love the Darwin awards--they usually give out great awards each year for the most idiotic research.

Dan Trabue said...

Hey, I agree with Daddio, too. When stupid behavior affects others, then there is reason to legislate it. The whole, "Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose."

Mark's response was:
"whoever is at fault, the insurance pays the one who was smart enough to have insurance and the stupid one has to pay."

I'm not sure what your point is, here. That if Bob has no insurance and is in a wreck, he has to pay for the other person's damage? Well, that's the law now. The problem is getting Bob to pay. Cars cost a bunch of money. Lives even more.

When the child in the car Bob hits has her legs broken and needs years of rehabilitation, how will Bob pay? Who's going to make Bob pay?

I hate insurance. Trust me. But auto insurance (if we're going to allow personal autos at all) must be required.

Now that at least Daddio has agreed that stupid behavior can and ought to be legislated when it hurts others, will he and others agree to figure out ways to reduce the Big Hurt that personal autos cause to society, the economy and the environment (and don't be naive, the cost is in the trillions of dollars a year)?

Are we up for some legislation to deal with that?

Mark said...

Dan, thanks for the respectful comment.

You said, "I'm not sure what your point is, here. That if Bob has no insurance and is in a wreck, he has to pay for the other person's damage?"

You misunderstood my point. What iI meant was that Bob has to pay for his own damages whatever they are, whether he is at fault or not. He failed to choose to be wise and get insurance so he gets what he deserves.

Insurance will pay for all dameages resulting from the accident for only the wise one who was insured. Hey, it's only a suggestion, but I think it would work.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm still not understanding. Bob does have to pay for his wreckage and, in theory, the other person - whether or not Bob has insurance. But in reality, Bob too often does not or can not pay and to get Bob to pay requires going to court and an awful lot of trouble on the victim's part.

Bob should have insurance or not have a license.

Always On Watch said...

The Nanny State has grown to gigantic proportions precisely because of all the laws "protecting" us against ourselves.

I tell you that I can no longer keep abreast of all the laws that The Nanny State has forced on us!