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Monday, May 20, 2013

A Very Obedient Lot

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.
--Ayn Rand

Here we go again.

The government is looking to make more of us criminals.  They want to lower the legal Blood Alcohol Content from 0.08% to 0.05% -
The National Transportation Safety Board made its recommendation last week: Lower the blood alcohol concentration level for drunken driving nationwide.

The government has been telegraphing their intentions for a while.  Like a veteran boxer, they've been softening us up with some strategically placed blows.  Specifically, a few years ago, they started with their, "Buzzed driving is drunk driving" Public Service Announcements.

I'll bet that's about the same time they noticed that drunk driving arrests were in a decline.

Getting the American public to at least consider the concept that any alcohol in your blood stream is bad while driving will just make getting the law passed that much easier.

If offering the carrot doesn't work, DC will just use the stick.  That's what they did back in the 1980's to get the current DUI laws in all 50 states:  Lower your DUI standards, or we'll withhold your federal highway funds.

Money talks, and all 50 states caved.

The DUI zealots have arguments that run along the lines of, "If only one person is saved by having these DUI laws, then it's worth it."

If you dare to question their position, they hit you with, "What if it's the life of YOUR child that's saved?"

Well, I dare.  Because they're morally, ethically and statistically wrong.  Extending their logic would mean that anything, anywhere that has the slightest chance of killing just one person must be banned and criminalized.

"No, no, no!", they'll say.  "Alcohol consumption is voluntary, as is the act of driving after a couple of drinks."

"Fine," I'll retort.  "Then let's ban driving all together.  Driving is voluntary.  More people are killed each year from car accidents than by just about any cause other than disease.  Stop the carnage!  Ban the car NOW!!!!"

I then lay it on thick.  "More than twice as many people are killed in car accidents than are murdered each year.  Twice as many!  It's an epidemic and a scourge to our society." [PDF link here, page 18]

"No, no, no!" they repeat.  "Don't be silly.  Cars are an important part of our society and economy.  Without cars, our society as we know it would come to a screeching halt.  No more people driving to work, no more soccer mom van pools, no more holiday get-togethers with the family, no more weekend trips to the beach, no more runs to the store for groceries.  It would be devastating to our economy!"

"Ah," I say, ala the spider to the fly, "There ARE lives you'll sacrifice for what YOU perceive to be a good cause.  Your cause happens to be money and leisurely pursuits, which I find repugnant and personally offensive."  (Hey, I gotta play along....).

"No, no, NO!" they'll squeal, spittle a-splatterin', frustrated by the bombardment of logic.  "Drunk driving is different.  Government has a duty to protect us.  We all know that driving drunk is bad.  We must be willing to give up some of our personal freedoms for a safer America."

It's usually about here that my head explodes like a balloon filled with pomegranate seeds.

[In through the nose, out through the mouth.]

Here in American, we're supposed to be governed by laws which protect the rights of the individual.  Really.

You can supposedly live your life any way you see fit, as long as your actions don't infringe upon the rights of another citizen.  It's a pretty simple concept.

We have a document in a glass case in Washington, DC that says so.  The first sentence even includes,
...and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...
I'm not kidding.  Take a look.

We even went to war with some tyrants to secure these freedoms.  Another document which we used to declare our intent was chock full of this liberty and freedom stuff.  Seriously, it's all over the place.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
The last part of that quote is important.  It's saying that we allow a government to protect our rights of freedom.  I've read the whole thing at least a couple of times, and there's not one mention of us consenting to allow our public servants to write laws that restrict those rights, unless we're at war or during times of insurrection.  And even then, they're treading on thin ice.

Yet, here we be.

Just like having face tattoos, or carrying a concealed pistol, or wearing baggy pants half way down your ass, driving with any alcohol in your blood stream makes you presumed guilty of some future crime.  You have not infringed upon the rights of another, nor have you manifest any indications that you have the intent to do so (such as swerving in the roadway).

You are found guilty for no reason other than having broken a law in which no victim is required.

We now have a society where it is considered "reasonable" to restrict your rights - almost without boundaries - where no victim exists, and no harm has come to anyone.
  • Restrict you from carrying a gun in public because a miniscule percentage of our population has used a gun while committing a crime in the past (and because most politicians are pussies).
  • Restrict (and report) the amount of cash you may deposit or withdraw from your personal checking account because criminals have dealt in cash in the past.
  • Restrict your ability to choose an airline to fly without being subjected to a fully body search because a handful of terrorists - 19 to be precise - have used planes as weapons in the past.
  • Restrict your ability to drive down the road unmolested by government agents manning check points because a nearly immeasurable percentage of the population has driven drunk in the past and taken the life of another citizen.  To call it, "statistically insignificant" would be assigning it grotesquely too much weight.
Government is able to do this because they are able to sell fear.  They do this very well.  Their livelihoods depend upon it.

Apparently, the cashflow from DUI arrests is drying up, so they need to lower the bar - yet again - to ensure a steady flow of fines into their coffers.

And DUI is a sweet deal.  For the state.  The vast majority of the 1.4 million Americans who are arrested for this each year only take up an hour or so of the officer's time.  Most get remanded to the custody of a family member, so they don't even impose a cost on the jail system.

But their pocketbook gets hammered.  To the tune of at least $10,000.  Fines, tickets, court costs, blah, blah, blah.  Ten grand.  For not infringing upon the rights of a single fellow citizen.

And if you try and invoke your fifth amendment protections against self-incrimination - by refusing a blood or breath test - the costs and penalties skyrocket.

Quite the racket, no?

No matter.  This too shall pass.  Into law.

There's too much money at stake, and too many Americans have no concept of personal freedom to question the motives of their public servants.  They expect to be told how to live, what to do and how to do it.  We're a very obedient lot.

Feel safer?


Copyright 2013 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


suek said...

Seat belts.

Give me one good reason why it should be a law that I must use one.

Ok...I'll give you that the state licenses the individual to drive and thus can make it a requirement for the driver - but passengers?

I can also give you the state's ability to allow insurance companies the right to disallow injuries caused by not wearing a belt - but that still doesn't give them the right to mandate that a passenger wears one.

Right up there in the same category.

Chief Instructor said...

Sue, excellent example.

An insurance company has the right to say that you won't be covered for injuries if you're not wearing a seat belt, because their costs will go up if you're injured while not wearing one. YOU have the choice as to whether you wish to take that risk or not.

The state SHOULD have no financial interest in this. But they do, since they've taken on the burden of providing last-resort medical coverage for all people living in the state (tax payers or not).

That should not be a function of government, but of private charity. If you choose to not wear a seatbelt or motorcycle helmet, YOU should bear that risk burden, not the rest of us.

But that's not how it is. The state gives you coverage, so they have the right to require certain behavior of the "insured". It's a big, endless circle of, "we give you this, so you must do that" which results in us being nothing more than wards of the state.

Want to increase the number of people wearing helmets and seatbelts? Let some Darwinian drivers die horrible deaths so all of society can see the benefits of using these safety measures.