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But is this the equivalent of the notorious catalytic converter “test pipes” that were once available in auto parts stores?
Not as I see it.
Disabling a vehicle’s emissions controls results in pollution of the “commons” — the air we all must breathe. It’s hard to argue that your right to pollute is being violated by laws that require your car to have intact/operational emissions equipment.
On the other hand, not wearing a seat belt may result in harm to you — assuming you have an accident; and assuming that accident is serious enough to cause injury; and — biggest assumption of all — assuming that the wearing of a seat belt would make a difference.
Even if we assume you will be injured as a result of not buckling up, no one else is directly threatened by your actions.
Driving unbuckled might be foolish. It might be something you’d never do yourself . But that’s beside the point. The relevant issue is, Does the guy in the next lane’s decision not to wear his seat belt harm (or even threaten to harm) me?
And clearly, the answer is, no.
SOME WILL TRY to argue that “social costs” justify seat belt laws. What they mean is, if you get injured as a result of not wearing your seat belt, then others bear the cost in the form of higher medical costs/insurance premiums/taxpayer burdens and so on.
But isn’t the same true of other private lifestyle choices, from what and how much we eat to whether we exercise or not to the recreational activities we partake of?
Fat people have much higher lifetime health-related costs — borne by “society” — than athletic people. There is an absolute correlation between activity levels and incidence of major illnesses, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
A line has to be drawn somewhere. The alternative is a society in which every action or potential action taken by an individual may be checkmated by some tangential, hypothetical “harm” ginned up by an imaginative bureaucrat or busybody.p>That line, it seems to me, is the one demarcating actions that present a clear threat to the lives or property or well-being of others. And by that reasonable standard, mandatory seat belt laws do not br> qualify. /p>
So, here’s to Dr. Bob and his “prescription” for dealing with laws that have no business being enforced in the first place.