Stop cluttering the books with ‘nanny state’ laws

Aristotle once opined that the aim of government is to produce a wise citizenry: citizens that are good at identifying their own real interest. Some political leaders, though, have contempt for this principle. They see their roles as benevolent dictators of choice. Take Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York. He thinks that he is the guardian of “right behavior” as he tries a repertoire of behavior modifications through executive orders or legislative dictate, including trying to rid the population in the city of supersized soda. His efforts have also extended to smoking, guns, traffic deaths, and obesity.
The ultimate irony of all of these efforts, however, is the fact that behemoths like Wall Street institutions and their  runaway greed hurts the average person far more than a can of Pepsi—yet they remain free of any meaningful restraints. Apparently, only the little guys need guidance.
Lest you think that New York City is the only place where a leader tries to dictate how people should live, cast your eyes right here in Rhode Island. Drivers get an $85 fine if they are not buckled up. Personally, I have always worn a seat belt, even before its use became mandatory, but there is something maddening about having a nanny state punish you for a choice not to wear one. It is a stupid diversion of resources. Police officers are stationed to intercept Granny, who couldn’t fasten her seatbelt because of arthritic hands, while drug dealers ply their trade a few streets away. During the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, undercover cops were stationed in a high crime area in Providence to pull over unbelted drivers. Aren’t there higher priorities in South Providence? Say, stopping gang-related drive-by shootings and brawls in nightclub parking lots?
I don’t like mandatory helmet laws either. Yes, yes, I understand the “arguments” about how the public purse is protected because accidents drive up the cost of health care when a device could have prevented catastrophic injuries. Nonetheless, the state should not be in the business of protecting people from themselves. Where there is a direct correlation between the forbidden activity and injury to a third party, then the rules make sense.  Having a punishment for texting while driving is a perfect example, since that knucklehead usually does crash into an innocent driver or bystander.
Multiplying laws geared solely for monetary purposes isn’t a trend to be encouraged. Whether the “monetary purpose” is to save on health care costs or to hear the ca-ching of municipal cash registers where budgets are augmented by wholesale dragnets of drivers caught in the vise, political leaders should stop dictating personal behaviors. What’s next? Certainly, some talk show hosts can make listeners’ blood boil with their comments, but should that be regulated because some people’s blood pressure may rise? These nanny laws, which serve only to protect a fool from himself, shouldn’t clutter the law books.

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