For Your Own Good

In Illinois, seat-belt enforcement checkpoints:

For the first time in Illinois, local and state law enforcement officers will have nighttime seatbelt enforcement zones to ensure that drivers are buckling up, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.

The department's division of traffic safety will pay $1 million in overtime to police officers enforcing the state's seat belt law.

[...]

This year, 204 law enforcement agencies around Illinois will set up 360 nighttime seat belt enforcement zones around the holidays, in addition to 658 zones set up during the daytime. Officers will operate the zones much like alcohol checkpoints and will look at whether drivers are wearing seat belts.


If they're able to pay for all that overtime by citing improperly affixed inspection stickers, expired registrations, or -- gold mine -- a joint or two that could lead to a forfeiture, all the better.  That seems to be what happens with DWI checkpoints.  Much as I'd like to say this is Nanny Statism at its worse (and it is), I suspect the prime motivation is revenue.


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  • Zubon||

    Revenue is unlikely to be the prime motivation. NHTSA provides states with overtime funding for traffic enforcement, and a new priority there is nighttime belt use. The Illinois Division of Traffic Safety will be entirely separated from revenue decisions. That is, someone in the system may care about revenue, but the agencies funding this activity do not get any of the money, so they do not care.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Much as I'd like to say this is Nanny Statism at its worse (and it is), I suspect the prime motivation is revenue.

    Nanny must be paid, after all.

  • ||

    I am shocked, SHOCKED, that police would use these checkpoints as a revenue source rather than what they are ostensibly for.

    Additionally, seat belt laws for adults suck and have no valid reason to exist. I didn't ask for cradle to grave health care, so don't even bother bringing it up.

  • ||

    Radley, even though it didn't list you as the poster, I'm guessing that this entry is yours. So...still settling in? I see that the good folks at H&R forgot to include the "How To Come Up With Witty Titles for Blog Posts", and "How to Include As Many Pop-Culture References In The Title As Possible" in your initiation package. Gotta work on that, man...it's gotta reference back to Monty Python or some other such popculture nonsense. Just ask Gillespie. If you value your job...you'll come up with witty titles ;->

    Anyway...I don't know if they still do it here, but several years ago Virginia was still doing their "click it or ticket" horseshit, where they sent officers out to hand out tickets for not wearing seatbelts. Putting on my seatbelt is second nature for me, so aside from the ideological problems I had with it, I wasn't worried personally. So, at one point duting this whole campaign, I was getting off of I-81 at Harrisonburg, and there is there horrible exit ramp where you come around a big corkscrew ramp, and you're going slowly because of the curve...and you have to speed up because the exit lane for the on-ramp is the same as the entrance lane which I was on. Well, at the same place where this dangerous merge takes place, that's where they decided to put the speed limit sign. Needless to say, I was more concerned about not getting rear ended while merging than I was going some arbitrary limit. As soon as I merged, I got clocked and pulled over.

    So, the trooper does his thing, and I start to explain myself, and why the ticket doesn't make sense. Well, he stops me in mid-explanation and tells me, in no uncertain terms, that during the Click-It-or-Ticket campaign, officers have no discretion in writing tickets, and if they pull you over, they must write you a ticket. In essence, he had no choice, because of this stupid seatbelt law, and I'd have to argue it with the judge. Well, given that Harrisonburg is several hours away from where I live, and given that it was in the middle of a workday, it was ridiculous for me to miss an entire day of work and travel a few hundred miles so that the asshole judge could tell me "so, you shoulda seen the sign!", and so I just prepaid it and let it go.

    What irks me the most is that it's just so freaking obvious that the state was using this stupid seatbelt campaign as an excuse to clamp down on other stuff...and make it harder to explain your way out of a ticket. As if seatbelts have anything to do with whether an officer should have discretion over writing a speeding ticket. It's just a farce, and they use the seemingly innocuous "we're just trying to make sure everyone is safe" line to mask their real intentions...which are much more sinister, as Radley notes above.

  • Dan T.||

    If seat-belt laws are really "Nanny Statism at its worse", then I'd say Nanny Statism is not a problem that anybody needs to worry themselves about.

    If anything, seat belt laws are a good example of the positive effects of "Nanny Statism" as they've increased seat belt use and helped lower car accident injuries and fatalities. Not wearing a seat belt is incredibly stupid so this might be a case where the state really does know better than some individuals.

  • ||

    And let us never forget that independant studies (local newsteams) have found that far and away the greatest violators of seat-belt laws are officers in patrol cars.
    Check out local news in Detroit, MI, and surrounding areas, when 'click it or ticket' was being touted there.
    And then check out how quickly the stories vanished...

    hugs,
    Shirley Knott

  • ||

    The State of Illinois doing something purely for revenue? Gimme a break! Libertarian or not, how dare you accuse Blago & crew of greed! How dare you!

  • ||

    seat belt laws are a good example of the positive effects of "Nanny Statism" as they've increased seat belt use and helped lower car accident injuries and fatalities

    Citation? I'd say that seat belt use has mostly increased because of expanding awareness that seat belts save lives, not because of these stupid laws.

    In any case, I'm sure a law banning the building of cars that can travel at over 20 miles an hour would help lower car accident injuries and fatalities. That doesn't make it a good idea, or something the government should be involved in.

  • ||

    Do they get to tase me repeatedly until I put it on?

  • T is for Troll||

    the state really does know better than some individuals


    Riiiight...troll a libertarian blog and post contrarian views 15-20 times day.

    You need help, dude. Really. Get some help.

  • Dan T.||

    I'd say that seat belt use has mostly increased because of expanding awareness that seat belts save lives, not because of these stupid laws.

    But the awareness is at least in part due to the laws being passed.

    In any case, I'm sure a law banning the building of cars that can travel at over 20 miles an hour would help lower car accident injuries and fatalities. That doesn't make it a good idea, or something the government should be involved in.

    It's true that wouldn't be a good idea because the cost/benefit analysis would show that the lives saved by slow cars would not be worth the general economic drain that would be caused by people taking three times as long to get anywhere.

    Seat belt laws, on the other hand, provide a nice return (saved lives, fewer injuries, less medical expense, etc.) for almost no cost (there's very little cost involved with buckling up...in fact, it's hard to come up with a valid reason not to).

  • Sam Franklin||

    I am sort a with Dan T. on this one. Seatbelt laws good.

    I am also with Balko:
    Traffic checkpoints bad.

  • Dan T.||

    Riiiight...troll a libertarian blog and post contrarian views 15-20 times day.

    You need help, dude. Really. Get some help.


    Comments like this I don't get. Correct me if I'm wrong, but my posts are always civil and on-topic. I agree with much of the libertarian philosophy but not all of it, and I'm surprised at the way people who pride themselves on "freedom" are so quick to suppress viewpoints that disagree with theirs.

  • ||

    Comments like this I don't get. Correct me if I'm wrong, but my posts are always civil and on-topic. I agree with much of the libertarian philosophy but not all of it, and I'm surprised at the way people who pride themselves on "freedom" are so quick to suppress viewpoints that disagree with theirs.

    Because your posts are also tedious and hackneyed - we've heard them a thousand times before and we really don't need to hear (and refute) them again.

    Give us something tough, give us something we can sink our teeth into. Hell, joe gives us that much. Grow some stones.

  • Sam Franklin||

    Because your posts are also tedious and hackneyed - we've heard them a thousand times before and we really don't need to hear (and refute) them again.

    Strong disagree.

  • Dan T.||

    Because your posts are also tedious and hackneyed - we've heard them a thousand times before and we really don't need to hear (and refute) them again.

    Then ignore them. But probably if you feel like you've heard them a thousands times it's because they're pretty obvious to everybody who doesn't subscribe to libertarain dogma.

  • Zubon||

    Citation? I'd say that seat belt use has mostly increased because of expanding awareness that seat belts save lives, not because of these stupid laws.

    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/TSF2005/OccupantProtectionTSF05.pdf

    49 states require adults to wear safety belts (at least in the front seat). Secondary enforcement states, where you can only be cited if stopped for another offense, have about 10% lower belt use than primary enforcement states. New Hampshire is the only state that does not require it, and belt use there hovers around 50%. I would not say that there is a huge difference in belt awareness between New Hampshire and Vermont (85%).

    You can see the same effect with motorcycle helmets. If helmet use is required, helmet use is at least 95%. If helmet use is not required, helmet use is around 65%.

    I suppose the easiest example is watching a change in laws. When a state moves from secondary to primary enforcement, its belt use increases about 10%. When a state enacts or repeals a helmet use law, its helmet use moves about 30%. Those changes seem mostly attributable to worries about tickets rather than about safety.

    There is a plausible argument to be made that states that enact stronger belt laws would have higher use rates anyway, which is why there is support for the belt legislation. The timing of changes in belt use, laws, and public opinion do not seem to support that. The normal order is that the law changes, then belt use increases, the cognitive dissonance sets in and people support stronger belt laws. People generally support whatever the current belt law is, and if that law changes, they will support whatever it changes to.

  • ||

    But the awareness is at least in part due to the laws being passed.

    And yet still no citation. I fail to see why it is necessary to ban something in order to make people aware that it is dangerous.

    Of course, in any case I would postulate that it is morally wrong to force people to look out for their own safety. Everybody gets to do their own cost/benefit analysis with regard to their own lives. It's called "freedom."

  • ||

    I posted my last comment before I saw Zubin's post--thanks, my citation demand is fulfilled.

    I still consider these laws to be morally wrong, of course. But I will refrain from saying they're ineffective.

  • Sam Franklin||

    Everybody gets to do their own cost/benefit analysis with regard to their own lives.

    In your own house sure. On roads you are sharing with me and my automobile insurer, no way. I don't want to look at that mess and I don't want to pay the pavement scrapers overtime. What you do on the roads affects everybody.

  • Dan T.||

    Of course, in any case I would postulate that it is morally wrong to force people to look out for their own safety. Everybody gets to do their own cost/benefit analysis with regard to their own lives. It's called "freedom."

    Freedom is a good thing of course, but it's also relative instead of absolute. At some point, we have to decide where freedom ends at the personal level and where it makes sense to compel people to adhere to basic safety measures.

    The thing is, society is affected by people's safety decisions. People dying or being badly injured needlessly affects more than just that person.

    If there were good reasons not to wear seat belts, I'd be more sympathic to those who claim such laws infringe upon their freedom. For example, I'm not quite sure about motorcycle helmet laws, considering that wearing a helmet supposedly takes away from the enjoyment of riding a bike.

  • ||

    "Revenue is unlikely to be the prime motivation."

    It never is. Financial gains are just a happy coincidence.

    ---------

    "49 states require adults to wear safety belts...."

    Think how many lives could be saved if we were required by law to walk everywhere; think of the cardiovascular health benefits! And we could smash all the cars flat and use them to build the wall to kep the Mexicans out.

    ps- An Illinois State Trooper standing on a highway overpass with his binoculars at the ready, in front of his chest, looks strikingly similar to a kid about to drop a big rock on the front of your car as you drive beneath him. And if you make an evasive maneuver, they can pull you over to perform the sobriety test.

  • Timothy||

    Except that mandatory safety devices can increase accidents. I'm having trouble finding Peltzman's original article online, although the Peltzman effect has a wikipedia entry.

  • Rommel||

    I agree that there is almost no downside to wearing a seat belt: they save lives or prevent serious injuries, they're easy to use, and they cost very little. I put on my seat belt by habit -- it just happens. Of course, there are many things in life that have large benefits for small costs: washing my hands, eating healthily, and exercising are just a few. There is no question that I should do these things.

    All of the discussion about whether it's good for you to wear seat belts and statistics on seat belt use rates are immaterial. The fundamental question is whether or not we are free to make our own choices as they effect us. Fundamentally: is the state our mommy, here to make sure we do "what's best", or are we grown ups now? We don't need a mommy state using its might to make sure we brush our teeth, wear a coat when it's cold, or change our underwear. I do all of these things and I make my kids do them, too, but it's my responsibility and prerogative as an adult to do so on my own.

  • ||

    I'd say that seat belt use has mostly increased because of expanding awareness that seat belts save lives, not because of these stupid laws.

    Don't seetbelts perhaps reduce safety because isn't it safer to be thrown safely from the car than to be trapped by the seatbelt in a burning wreck and incinerated. That is why motorcycles are probably safer because you don't get trapped in a burning wreck.

  • Rommel||

    Brilliant, Joe! Ironically, those were the arguments used by my father 20 years ago when I was trying to convince him to use a seat belt. He was deadly serious, though. In the end, public awareness and pestering by my mother and I wore him down: he now wears a seat belt every time he drives.

    It sure would have been easier to compel him with threats of violence from the government.

  • ||

    It sure would have been easier to compel him with threats of violence from the government.

    Irony, right?

  • Zubon||

    Don't seetbelts perhaps reduce safety because isn't it safer to be thrown safely from the car than to be trapped by the seatbelt in a burning wreck and incinerated.

    On the off chance that this is serious: no. Being ejected from the vehicle is almost always more dangerous, since the car has more safety features than trees or pavement. Generally, if anything is left of the car, you want to be strapped to it. The ugliest crashes are partial ejection rollovers, i.e. you fell halfway out of the pickup and it flipped on you. Being thrown does not mean being thrown clear.

    Also, motorcycles have far higher fatalities per mile, rider, motorcycle, etc. If you think that motorcycles are safer than cars in crashes, then bicycles should be safer still since they have even less mass/machinery, and pedestrians should just bounce safely when they are hit. All things being equal, more mass is safer.

    No citation here, but the last numbers I saw were that about 0.5% of crashes (or was that of fatal crashes?) involve immersion or fire in some form. Even in those cases, your greater risk is being trapped because you were knocked out when you hit the windshield.

    On another point raised, there is some validity to risk homeostasis theory, but there is not yet a preponderance of evidence in either direction. We are seeing more pedestrian fatalities these days, which is what you would expect if increased use of belts causes drivers to drive more recklessly, but the connection is not yet clear. I should run a regression on safety belt use and pedestrian fatalities sometime. It is almost certain that the effect must exist for some people in some cases, but it is not clear if the actual effect is large or significant.

    And yeah, freedom. We're at Reason, so you know the speech.

  • Egon||

    Not wearing a seat belt is incredibly stupid so this might be a case where the state really does know better than some individuals.

    If it's true that "not wearing a seat belt is incredibly stupid," I'd call it a case of Social Darwinism.

  • Dan T.||

    It sure would have been easier to compel him with threats of violence from the government.

    I think fines are generally used to compel seat belt wearing, not threats of violence.

  • Dan T.||

    The fundamental question is whether or not we are free to make our own choices as they effect us.

    I agree - this question is certainly worth asking and should be considered anytime rules or regulations are being discussed. But one of my beefs with libertarians is that they seem to be unwilling to consider this as a question, having already made up their minds.

    To me, it's part of the cost/benefit analysis. Part of the cost of any rule is the freedom that is given up. So the benefit that comes from the new rule should be great enough to make up for that. With seat belt laws, I think the benefits are very good compared with the very small amount of freedom that people lose.

  • ||

    Dan T.

    You know, you come across a bit like a troll. I'll feed you anyway.

    The essence of libertarianism is that the fundamental question has been answered. Try to start from that premise.

  • ||

    I think fines are generally used to compel seat belt wearing, not threats of violence.

    Uhh, Dan, do you know how they get people to pay those fines?

  • ||

    Sam and Dan (sounds like a bad folk duo) would have us outlaw NASCAR, mountain climbing, parachuting, hunting and god knows what else that's unsafe. It would seem the UK is going to get two new immigrants soon.

  • ||

    "In your own house sure. On roads you are sharing with me and my automobile insurer, no way. I don't want to look at that mess and I don't want to pay the pavement scrapers overtime. What you do on the roads affects everybody."

    Which is precisely why laws governing external threats on the road, such as dangerous driving, make sense even to me, the libertarian. But something that governs your safety, and your safety alone (seat belts) doesn't affect anyone else.

    If you're worried about the fact that you have to "share insurance" with someone who doesn't wear a seatbelt, then the solution is easy: go with an insurance provider that requires seatbelt usage. The state needn't be involved. If you "don't want to look at the mess", then don't look. If you "don't want to pay the pavement scrapers overtime", then privatize the pavement scraping industry. Your arguments all presume that general health is necessarily the business of the state, and that's simply untrue.

  • ||

    The cost/benefit analysis for freedom has been answered. Countless lives given up for freedom. Duh.

  • ||

    "
    I think fines are generally used to compel seat belt wearing, not threats of violence."


    See what happens if you refuse to pay said fine. See how nice they are then. The state's authority is always, always based on one premise: in the end, they can detain you at gunpoint. Not that this is necessarily bad...without it, we'd have a "voluntary" justice system, which would simply not work. But you also must keep this in mind when supporting any kind of government regulation: at the end of the day, it's their guns and their prisons which are the ultimate coercive agent to make you do what they want.

  • Dan T.||

    The essence of libertarianism is that the fundamental question has been answered. Try to start from that premise.

    I suppose, but that makes libertarianism more akin to a religion than a workable philosophy.

    Or at the very least it's highly idealistic but not terribly pragmatic.

  • ||

    Why can so many people just not bring themselves to leave those who don't want to buckle up alone?
    Instead, endless mental torture is committed to "protect the public", "protect the individual", "keep down cost", whatever.
    Those who want to use belts are still free to do so. That's what it's all about, the freedom to be smart or dumb.

    Not about belts, but driving related, under the heading A Breathalyzer In Every Car are these lines:

    I also worry a bit about the slippery slope. Will police seek to monitor these breath tests to catch people who even attempt to drive drunk?
    Try as I might, however, I can't convince myself that these devices are bad news. I like any invention that reduces the number of criminals, and the costs of crime, without filling up our prisons.


    Mind you, this is written by a law prof, widely connected, on a blog that's widely read.

    Whole thing at Concurring Opinions

    Presumption of guilt until proven otherwise, proactive law enforcement, call it what you will. Not a peep about vanishing liberties.

    No slippery slope? My eye. From DUI checks to drug checks, to belt checks, to cameras everywhere à la UK, to mandatory GPS, and so on ...

    It's enough to drive a libertarian to drugs, er, drink, only approved beverages of course.

    Happy Thanksgiving anyway. Drink and be merry!

  • ||

    Don't seetbelts perhaps reduce safety

    I was being sarcastic.

    You can make some arguement that a seatbelt keeps the driver from being thrown from the seat in a minor accident, thus preventing him/her from losing complete control of the car and having a more serious accident involving others.

    Helmet laws are purely paternalistic as I see it.

  • Dan T.||

    See what happens if you refuse to pay said fine. See how nice they are then. The state's authority is always, always based on one premise: in the end, they can detain you at gunpoint. Not that this is necessarily bad...without it, we'd have a "voluntary" justice system, which would simply not work. But you also must keep this in mind when supporting any kind of government regulation: at the end of the day, it's their guns and their prisons which are the ultimate coercive agent to make you do what they want.

    I'm not sure if that's true. Certainly there must be people out there with an unpaid seat belt ticket that are not being dealt with violently.

    If anything, for a liberal democracy to work, people have to be for the most part willing to follow laws without coersion. I think most people feel that they have a moral duty as part of the social contract to obey the law even if they don't agree with it.

  • Dan T.||

    The cost/benefit analysis for freedom has been answered. Countless lives given up for freedom. Duh.

    Eh...countless lives have been given up for fascism as well. What does that have to do with anything?

  • ||

    "I agree - this question is certainly worth asking and should be considered anytime rules or regulations are being discussed. But one of my beefs with libertarians is that they seem to be unwilling to consider this as a question, having already made up their minds."


    That question HAS been asked, and it's been pondered by many a libertarian, and the answer is: as a cognizant human being, I own my body and my mind, and unless I am affecting someone else with my actions, it's nobody else's business what I do. next question.

    "To me, it's part of the cost/benefit analysis. Part of the cost of any rule is the freedom that is given up. So the benefit that comes from the new rule should be great enough to make up for that. With seat belt laws, I think the benefits are very good compared with the very small amount of freedom that people lose."

    Your silly little cost benefit analysis presumes that A) 50.1% of the people are always right, and B) all of life can be reduced to some cold economic calculation. By your logic, anything that is dangerous, but does not produce some kind of "tangible benefit", should be outlawed. Can you think of how many thousands, even millions, of things we do that produce no tangible benefit, and are dangerous? Pretty much all sports are out of the picture. All outdoor activities like hiking, mountain climbing, etc. None of these provide any real tangible benefit, at least in the traditional sense of the word.

    Dan, at the end of the day, the human psyche is simply too complex (and it varies too much from person to person) to come up with some sort of catchall cost-benefit analysis that can be formulated into law. It's absurd. It's inane. It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. We all do things each day that are dangerous...like driving to the store to buy crap that we don't need. But to presume that we can govern all human activity by punching the cost and the benefit into some calculation is just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

  • ||

    "I'm not sure if that's true. Certainly there must be people out there with an unpaid seat belt ticket that are not being dealt with violently."

    You're not sure that's true? Dan, if it weren't true, then the government couldn't exist. yes, there are probably people out there with unpaid seatbelt tickets who aren't currently being dealt with violently, but by the letter of the law, the end result of disobeying the government is violence, or the threat of violence as a coercive measure.

  • Dan T.||

    Dan, at the end of the day, the human psyche is simply too complex (and it varies too much from person to person) to come up with some sort of catchall cost-benefit analysis that can be formulated into law. It's absurd. It's inane. It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. We all do things each day that are dangerous...like driving to the store to buy crap that we don't need. But to presume that we can govern all human activity by punching the cost and the benefit into some calculation is just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

    I don't mean that it's a formal analysis (some kind of formula where you insert numbers to get a definite answer) but rather I'm talking about the kind of risk/reward calculations that we each make every time we consider any sort of choice or decision.

    All laws, even ones that libertarians agree with, are based on this premise. Murder is outlawed because the benefits (you're not as likely to be killed) outweigh the costs (you give your right to kill others). Every law restricts freedom, so in any case the question should be "is it worth it"?

  • Dan T.||

    You're not sure that's true? Dan, if it weren't true, then the government couldn't exist. yes, there are probably people out there with unpaid seatbelt tickets who aren't currently being dealt with violently, but by the letter of the law, the end result of disobeying the government is violence, or the threat of violence as a coercive measure.

    No, there are many laws that simply are not enforced violently. O.J. Simpson legally owes the Goldman family many millions of dollars but is in no danger of being beaten up or jailed by the government to enforce the judgement against him.

  • ||

    Simple. Respect the rights of others - including the right to do anything they wish, as long as they do not infringe on others.

    Wearing a seatbelt is a good idea. Forcing me to do it because you think it's a good idea is patronizing arrogance. Refusal to see it as such is blind ideology.

  • ||

    "I don't mean that it's a formal analysis (some kind of formula where you insert numbers to get a definite answer) but rather I'm talking about the kind of risk/reward calculations that we each make every time we consider any sort of choice or decision."

    And what you're asserting is that the government is the one that should be making these choices and decisions for us. In other words, we don't own our bodies, and that the government is the true owner...subsequently, you're arguing the premise of "positive rights"...that we are only allowed to do what the government deems permittable. Ugh.

    "All laws, even ones that libertarians agree with, are based on this premise. Murder is outlawed because the benefits (you're not as likely to be killed) outweigh the costs (you give your right to kill others). Every law restricts freedom, so in any case the question should be "is it worth it"?"

    The other, more important question to ask is, "does the government own my body, or do I"? This would separate out two different types of laws: 1) laws that govern externalities like polluting, stealing from others, and inflicting harm upon others, and 2) laws that only affect the individual. What I am arguing is that it is inherently immoral for a governing body to coercively force people to do things that don't affect others.

    There needs to be a line drawn, Dan...and we draw that line at externality. It's rather simple. I own my body. I can do with it what I please. The only time the government needs to step in is when my actions affect another person.

    If you refuse to draw this line, then it's a free-for-all on everything we do. If the government can regulate my seatbelt use, then it can regulate my right to eat a fucking cheeseburger. If it can regulate my cheeseburger consumption, it can regulate when I sleep.

    Do you still not get it? The government does not exist to just make up laws that "are worth it". The "is it worth it" question is only HALF of the question. The other question, as I said, is whether my own internalized actions are anyone else's business but my own. Morally speaking, if you claim that the government has ownership over any actions I make (which you are), then you're an authoritarian, through and through. Sorry, but that's the fucking honest truth here.

    To put it simply, this question is both pragmatic and moral. You asked the pragmatic half: "is it worth it". Unfortunately, you forgot the moral half: "is it right". I posit that it is immoral for someone else to force me to make choices against my will, if those choices have no externalized effects.

    Unless you are willing to draw a moral line, you're no better than a robot, Dan. Life is not just cold pragmatism...

  • ||

    "No, there are many laws that simply are not enforced violently. O.J. Simpson legally owes the Goldman family many millions of dollars but is in no danger of being beaten up or jailed by the government to enforce the judgement against him."

    So what do they do? What, the state just says "oh, pleeeeease pay! Pleeeeeeease!" No, Dan, no. They seize your property. Theft at gunpoint is still...theft. They may not have taken OJ's stuff yet, but it won't just go away. It's simply not possible that you're this inept...

  • Dan T.||

    What I am arguing is that it is inherently immoral for a governing body to coercively force people to do things that don't affect others.

    Actually I do agree with you on this principle - where we differ is in what we mean by "affecting others".

    Certainly if you are killed or maimed in a car accident, that affects plenty of people other than yourself.

  • ||

    Certainly if you are killed or maimed in a car accident, that affects plenty of people other than yourself.

    Name one.

  • Dave B.||

    Dan T. - Can you name a single action that anyone has ever done in the history of mankind that hasn't affected others in some way? Not wearing a seatbelt doesn't qualify as an infringement against others just because they're somehow affected by it.

  • Dan T.||

    So what do they do? What, the state just says "oh, pleeeeease pay! Pleeeeeeease!" No, Dan, no. They seize your property. Theft at gunpoint is still...theft. They may not have taken OJ's stuff yet, but it won't just go away. It's simply not possible that you're this inept...

    Seizing property is not a violent act, for one.

    Second, OJ's property in the form of his NFL pension and his Florida homestead cannot be taken. So basically his is a judgment that cannot be enforced.

    But yes, I get your point that ultimately if you defy the law enough times the government will use violence to enforce the rules. But I still maintain that there are many other mechanisms that are uses to enforce laws that do not involve violence.

  • Dan T.||

    Certainly if you are killed or maimed in a car accident, that affects plenty of people other than yourself.

    Name one.


    Well, if you're a parent then your kids are affected greatly. If you work, then your employer is affected. If you have friends, then they are affected. If your accident requires the police to come document and clean up the scene, then the taxpayers who pay for the police are affected. And so on...

  • Dan T.||

    Dan T. - Can you name a single action that anyone has ever done in the history of mankind that hasn't affected others in some way? Not wearing a seatbelt doesn't qualify as an infringement against others just because they're somehow affected by it.

    Good point, and admittedly I look at things from more of a collectivist perspective than many here.

    But I'd say that it goes back to my cost/benefit idea. All actions affect others in some way, and all laws restrict freedom in some way. So I think it should be looked upon on a case-by-case basis as to whether enough people are affected adversely enough to warrant a restriction of freedom.

  • Sam Franklin||

    Another affect is carnage that I have to look at as a driver. I saw a decapitated head in a motorcycle helmet once. that still gives me nightmares.

    That is not to say that they should outlaw motorcycles, or make us all drive tanks.

    But if there is a low-freedom-restricting (eg, seatbelts) way so that I can probabilistically look at one or two less mangled bodies during my life as a driver, I think I have a genuine interest in being freed of that margin of nuisance.

    And b4 someone else tells me I am kidding, I will add that I am dead serious about that.

  • ||

    "Actually I do agree with you on this principle - where we differ is in what we mean by "affecting others". Certainly if you are killed or maimed in a car accident, that affects plenty of people other than yourself."

    We're not talking about societal constructs here, Dan. We're talking about me owning my body---and the fact that if I die or an hurt, my family and friends suffer, does not mean that my risks are "externalized" in any real sense of the word. No, nothing we do is truly 100% absolutely internalized. Everything has some sort of effect somewhere, like a kind of butterfly effect theory, if you will. But by your extremely loose definition (that my health affects others), you have suddenly obliterated any rational line that could be drawn.

    In other words, when your definition of "externalized" is so broad as to conceptually nullify the differentiation between internal and external altogether, then it doesn't matter that you claim to draw a moral line.

    Abstractly, yes, you have drawn a moral "line"...but the line is so far in the "external" direction so as to have no practical meaning in the world as we know it. Extremely loose/broad definitions of moral terminology may technically mean you have a moral judgment about it---but practically speaking, it really doesn't matter to most of the things that affect our lives. You might as well draw no line at all, because your loose definitions (i.e., conflating "externality" with some sort of imbecile butterfly effect theory) defy the entire concept of drawing said moral line...at least in terms of that moral line having any real meaning in our lives.

    "Seizing property is not a violent act, for one."

    My ass, it's not. They are FORCEFULLY taking your property. What do they back up that force with? Violence. What happens if you try to prevent them from taking the property? Violence. Jesus, just stop this...

    Anyway, I gotta run. Time for the big holiday trip. Ugh, traffic should be nice.

  • ||

    If only the guy in the motorcycle helmet had been wearing his seatbelt.

  • ||

    Well, if you're a parent then your kids are affected greatly. If you work, then your employer is affected. If you have friends, then they are affected.

    And they are all perfectly entitled to try to persuade me to use a seatbelt (they don't actually have to since I use a seatbelt religiously and think anyone who doesn't is an idiot). My employer can even make use of seatbelts in company cars a condition of employment (and in those states where the commute to and from work is covered by Workers Comp I suppose there too).

    If your accident requires the police to come document and clean up the scene, then the taxpayers who pay for the police are affected. And so on...

    I'm all for charging the people involved in accidents for the costs involved in accident response. The insurance companies can duke it out for who has to pay what.

    There are many non-coercive methods to encourage sensible and appropriate behaviors. None, however, are available to government whose only tool is force.

  • Sam Franklin||

    If only the guy in the motorcycle helmet had been wearing his seatbelt.

    I pre-empted this kind of snark with my post. As joe says, read gooder.

  • Dan T.||


    My ass, it's not. They are FORCEFULLY taking your property. What do they back up that force with? Violence. What happens if you try to prevent them from taking the property? Violence. Jesus, just stop this...


    Yeah, I suppose you could say that any time you have to get somebody to do something they don't want to do, it eventually is backed up by the threat of violence. Such is life, I guess.

    Still, I think describing a $50 seat belt ticket as a "violent threat" is being pretty melodramatic about it!

  • ||

    """"No, there are many laws that simply are not enforced violently. O.J. Simpson legally owes the Goldman family many millions of dollars but is in no danger of being beaten up or jailed by the government to enforce the judgement against him.""""

    Need I mention OJ was not guilty of violating a law. You are confusing criminal and civil penalties. The cops can not enforce, by way of gun, civil offenses, only criminal.

    I find it odd when people are willing to throw way their freedom because someone thinks it is a benefit. There are benefits to attaching tracking tags to every person, place, or thing.

    If RFID chips were embedded in everything you owned and you had to register your items with the police, society benefits. It works like this. Say your house is robbed. You could call the police and they could scan the neighborhood, city, and maybe state, and find the location of all your items in a couple of minutes. The police could arrest everyone that has possession of your property (theft by receiving). Most theft would become a thing of the past because the items stolen would rat the theif out via RFID making theft almost impossible to get away with therefore reducing, greatly, the overall amount of theft. We all would benefit.

    So for all you freedom cost/benefit analysis types, should we require, by law, all items to contain RFID chips and be registered with the police? The analysis says yes!

    Personally I don't understand this type of analysis as applied to concepts such as freedom. If it's worth 3000 or more Americans to give limited freedom to another country, what's it worth to keep the freedoms we have? You can't C/B freedom.

    Besides who get to decide how much a benefit is worth or if it's valid. Hitler wanted to create super-race that would benefit mankind. To him, the cost was worth it. I'm aware it's a bit of a stretch.

    The real issue is who should decide, the government, or the individual?

  • Dan T.||

    Need I mention OJ was not guilty of violating a law. You are confusing criminal and civil penalties. The cops can not enforce, by way of gun, civil offenses, only criminal.

    That's not correct - law enforcement can garnish wages or seize property and sell it at auction to satisfy a judgment.

  • ||

    Anybody stupid enough not to wear a seatbelt probably can't come up with the money to pay the fine. This sort of nonsense is what give libertarianism a nutbar aura.

  • ||

    What is "nutbar" about Get the hell out of MY life?

  • ||

    They're spending way over a million dollars. You cannot listen to a commercial radio station in Chicago for 20 minutes without hearing a commercial about it. These ads aren't free, they have to pay the going rate.

  • ||

    I pre-empted this kind of snark with my post. As joe says, read gooder.

    You know, I went back and re-read the post in question, and I can't for the life of me figure out where you "pre-empted" snark. Was it the part where you imply that seatbelt laws would prevent unsightly motorcycle accidents, or the part where you emphasize that you're not kidding?

  • Sam Franklin||

    Was it the part where you imply that seatbelt laws would prevent unsightly motorcycle accidents

    For the slow:

    The part where I said that I understand that we should not outlaw motorcycles or be required to drive tanks implied that I understood that there will always be some carnage on our roads.

    Even if the reference to motorcycles somehow made you (incorrectly) think I was suggesting that seatbelts on motorcycles would prevent motorcycle related dismemberments, the reference to the tanks should have clued you in to the real meaning of what I was saying which was:

    Carnage on the road is an inescapable fact of life, but should be decreased at sensible margins where the cost in freedom is more theoretical or trivial than real. Outlawing motorcycles is not realistic. Requiring seatbelt usage is.

  • ||

    """That's not correct - law enforcement can garnish wages or seize property and sell it at auction to satisfy a judgment.""""

    They can't use a gun to garnish your wages but I do have to give you the seizure. That, they can do that by a gun. But you can skirt seizures by not having seizable assets. That's what OJ is doing. So in the in end, judgement is not satisfied, gun or not.

  • ||

    I'm convinced that farceswanna and advancedsarcasm are the same guy or possibly the same piece of code ...

    And just for the hell of it, my favorite bit of the Talmud.

    "If a man comes to kill you, forestall it by killing him."

    Talmud, Sanhedrin 72a

  • Dave B.||

    Dan T. - Back to your cost/benefit analysis... How can you be certain that saving the lives of people who otherwise wouldn't even buckle their seatbelts is a net benefit to society? Of course, before this you have to assume that seatbelts even cause a net decrease in lives lost. They may improve the results of particular accidents, but you can't be sure what they do to the number of accidents.

    The problem with your cost/benefit analysis is that we can be certain that there are costs, but not that there are benefits. Unless of you consider the loss of liberty to be a benifit, of course.

  • ||

    Apostate Jew:

    Beats the hell out of "Turn the other cheek."

  • ||

    I have always seen "Nanny Laws" as way Liberals ensure that their voters are able to remain alive and procreate. Without laws like this evolution would eventually create a more Republican/Libertarian population.

  • ||

    For the record, as I understand it, "But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also" was understood at the time as like saying "fuck you," to the offender, not like saying "I am a wuss."

  • ||

    For fuck's sake, would you all please refrain from putting a quarter in Dan's machine.

    Don't Feed the Motherfuckin' Trolls, Bitches!

  • Steve in Clearwater||

    DAN T submits: Not wearing a seat belt is incredibly stupid

    SH: Only if you're in a collision. The other 99.9% of the time driving it's kind of a moot exercise.

  • Sam Franklin||

    I'm convinced that farceswanna and advancedsarcasm are the same guy or possibly the same piece of code ...

    Nope.

    Besides, I said seatbelt checkpoints are bad. I thought that is what I was supposed to say.

  • ||

    Outlawing motorcycles is not realistic.

    Some me see things as they are and ask, "Why?" I dream things that never were and ask, "Why not?"

  • Sam Franklin||

    Some me see things as they are and ask, "Why?" I dream things that never were and ask, "Why not?"

    I think it comes down to what Dan T. was saying. At least when it comes to sharing the public roads (or private roads for that matter), you have to balance how much a proposed restriction will help versus how much it will "cost" in freedom.

    The problem is that both the costs and the benefits can be difficult to measure in dollars and cents. How much would I be willing to pay to have never seen that decapitated head. I dunno, probably $1000. How much would I pay for a minor child of mine not to have seen the decapitated head? Probably more than $1000, but less than $10,000. However, since we don't really get these kind of chances in real life it is hard for me to say.

    On the benefits side it is also hard to measure in dollars. How much would I pay extra for the benefit of not wearing a seatbelt? I think not very much. maybe $10. I think most people feel the same way. If someone said they would pay a lot more I would not believe them and think they were grandstanding. On the other hand, I know motorcycle enthusiasists and how much they love their bikes. So there is more of a value to that freedom.

    Because of this kind of cost benefitr analysis, I don't think it is inconsistent for me to say that I support seatbelt laws partially because they force less people to witness carnage, but still I would not support a motorcycle ban despite the obvious carnage.

  • ||

    Why do seat-belt law advocates only concentrate on compliance rates? Why not cite the huge reduction is accident and death rates? Because they are not there.

    A broad study done by John Adams in 1982 found that countries with mandatory seat belts enjoy greater use but did no better with regard to accident rates or traffic fatality than those without. In three cases (Sweden, Ireland and New Zealand) rates went _up_ with greater seat belt use.

    http://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/~jadams/PDFs/SAE%20seatbelts.pdf

    Another study observing driver behavior found that habitual non-users when forced to use seat belts became more reckless in their driving. This mean that responsible driver like me who buckle up regularly are placed at greater risk by increased recklessness on the highways.

    http://psyc.queensu.ca/target/chapter08.html#8.2

    In response to Adams, the The UK Department of Transport commissioned a study on the effects of seat belt laws in Sweden, West Germany, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway. Known as "the Isles report" this study used the United Kingdom and Italy as controls for no-law countries. It compared casualty trends for both those inside and outside cars between compulsory and non-compulsory states. The report predicted that, a UK seat belt law would be followed by a 2.3% increase in fatalities among car occupants. The British Government chose not to publish the report and it only cam to light years later when it was leaked to The Spectator.

    Davis, R (1993). Death on the Streets: Cars and the Mythology of Road Safety. Leading Edge Books. ISBN 0-948135-46-8. (no web reference for this one)

    In January 1986, three years after Britain mandated Seat belt use, an editorial in The Lancet noted the shortfall in predicted life-saving and increase in deaths of other road users (mostly cyclists and pedestrians).

    Lancet, Jan 11, 1986, p75

    There have been recent reductions is some states in traffic fatalities. But it comes far too late to be attributed to seat belt use. More likely it is because of lower average collision speeds caused by greater congestion.

    For those who really interested risk and risk assessment I recommend Risk by John Adams: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1857280687/reasonmagazineA/

  • ||

    I think it is a waste of officers time. They should be out doing the impotant things. Like catching thieves and the dumb drivers that forgot how to drive. A check point for seat belts catches fewer criminals. Then gong out patroling the streets And serving warrants. After all its stil our tax money paying for them. Have the cops do what they need to do to take a bite out of crime. Not sit at one place for hours and let the bad guys go around and know that they may not get caught because the cops are on the highway not the nieghborhood streets.if I was a burgler Id love it.

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