Sunday, December 31, 2006

Brazenly Passing the Buck

If you think the country's going to hell in a handbasket, and you wonder just why that is, then look no further than the attitudes expressed in this op-ed piece in today's Chron...

The nonstory of 2006 was also the nonstory of 2005. It is a nonstory every year going back decades. Yet the number of people who die in car crashes in the United States is staggering, even if it is absent from the agenda of most public officials and largely ignored by the public.


Elected officeholders naturally take the path of least resistance. They are well aware that significantly reducing deaths on the roads requires radical solutions in the form of regulation, investment and enforcement. Roads need to be made safer, for example, by extending guardrails and medians to every mile of busy highways. Speeding and aggressive driving need to be much more rigorously controlled. Trucks need to be separated from automobiles wherever possible. And cars need to be built slower and stronger.

But every solution is readily opposed by someone: manufacturers, industrial unions, truckers, consumers, taxpayers — though all are potential victims themselves. The public is not to blame. It is hemmed in on every side by mind-numbing advertising and shouted stories of the moment. Apparently no medium is willing to bludgeon people — as they need to be — with statistics and trends on the dangers facing them every time they set out in their automobiles.

"The public is not to blame" for the fact that so many people in that aforementioned public lose their lives each year. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over? Just who does this character think is doing the driving here? Who's made the conscious choice to develop the bad driving habits that cause that high number of fatalities? Talking on the cell phone while you drive? Putting on makeup? Eating? Fiddling with the cd player? (And the list goes on...) Not the public's fault, my ass. It would seem that common sense has gone right out the window. Call me crazy, but even before I took any kind of physics class I had a pretty good idea, for example, that if I drove too fast in the rain or if I smacked into an 18-wheeler head on, bad things would happen, especially in the latter case if I was driving anything smaller than an 18-wheeler myself. I guess not everyone has the intuition to figure things like this out for themselves, but this absolving people of personal responsibility has got to stop. Lack of government regulation isn't the problem. People making bad decisions and developing bad habits is the problem. If people die for their bad habits and decisions, then so be it. They are the ones responsible for that. Period. Full Stop. End Of Story. The road this professor is leading us down is the road to a European socialist nanny-state.
"But if it saves one life, it's worth it..."
No. No it isn't. Not if the cost of saving that one life is even an iota more of our freedom and self-determination as a people. True freedom includes the freedom to make bad choices, and the responsibility to own up to them. You forfeit the responsibility, you forfeit the freedom...and you do it as an individual, not as a collective. That is the only way our free society will be able to sustain itself.
Hey, there's an idea for our New Year's resolution as a people...resolve to take individual responsibility for our choices and not pass the buck. What a radical concept!