Wendell Carvan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Letter to the editor

Riding the ‘slippery slope’ to the Nanny State

In reference to your editorial “Mandatory Life Jackets…,” August 19, 2008:

It started with the taking away of the freedom of a motorcycle rider to ride without a helmet. “It is for the good of society,” they said. “All citizens have to bear the medical expenses of head injuries suffered by irresponsible bike riders.” Bike riders fought the laws tooth and nail.

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“Let those who ride decide” was their mantra. To no avail. No one was concerned because bike riders were a minority and no one really cared what they thought. And eventually, state by state, the helmet laws were passed.

Then seat belts became the focus. It was said seat belts could save lives and reduce injuries that might cost taxpayers money.

More of the public was involved and resistance was greater so it took time to get the seat-belt laws passed.

Through the years seat belt laws have progressed from “encouraged use” to a “a ticket offense only if stopped for another offense” to being an enforceable  law.

Now “no seat belt” is reason to be ticketed and is perceived by some insurance companies as an excuse to raise rates.

Along with this law quietly came the law of requiring babies and young children to be restrained in a car seat. An “approved” car seat, no less.

It was “for the children,” they said. The laws are passed to protect “our  future generation.” Another in-road into the liberties of all. “For our  good,” they said.

Strange how these laws written “to protect us” always come with a  loss of freedom and choice for us and at the same time generate income and power for the government.

Then the tobacco laws. The tobacco companies, under duress, agreed smoking is harmful. It’s printed on the pack. That was not good  enough. It was necessary to “punish” the cigarette manufacturers. Huge amounts of money were and are paid into state coffers by tobacco companies.

Then there were No-Smoking areas. This wasn’t enough.

“We don’t want to smell the slightest odor of cigarette smoke anywhere,” they said. “Second-hand smoke is harmful to the children.” And smoking costs society in higher medical costs so no one should smoke. Now whole cities are banning smoking. It’s against the law.  

The cost of tobacco related diseases on society is not acceptable, they say.  

Strange that tobacco is not declared illegal and taken off the market. Oh, that’s right! The states count on tobacco taxes for a part of their annual budgets!

Is there going to be a program requiring mandatory  life preservers at the four reservoirs in North Mississippi? Not just in a boat but on the bank?  

“No way,” we say.

“That doesn’t make sense! This law will not be passed.”

We said that about helmets, about seat belts, about child seats and tobacco products, to name a few. We didn’t care because we didn’t ride   motorcycles.

We didn’t have underage children so the child seat law sounded OK. We don’t smoke so the “no smoking” laws don’t bother us. Slowly our freedom of choice  to live our lives as we see fit is being eroded by laws supposedly passed to “protect us” or to “protect the children” or to “protect the environment.”  Now another  law is proposed to continue the everlasting journey to a Nanny State.

And this is not to say helmets, seat belts, child seats and life preservers are not a great idea. They are. The use of these products should be promoted and encouraged via public safely announcements, billboards, newspaper ads, etc.

But their use should not be forced upon a supposedly free society “for our own good”  with  money for the government coffers taken from us as punishment for non-compliance.

That’s the slippery slope.

Wendell Carvan