Saturday, April 17, 2010

As I warned, some more old stuff is coming your way.

This is from way back in 2006, when the Commonwealth of Kentucky made not wearing a seatbelt a primary offense, meaning the cops could stop you solely for NOT wearing a seatbelt.

Call it what it is; Invasive Revenue Enhancement.

And by the way, none of my elected representatives ever responded.

And one small correction; in my letter I assume that court costs will be assessed with the fine. That is not the case. I ought to know.

I have paid this fine twice in the last four years.

Governor Ernie Fletcher
Governor’s Mansion
Frankfort, KY 40601

Sen. Katie Stine
Rep. Jon David Reinhardt
Kentucky State Capital Building
Frankfort, KY 40601


In Sunday morning’s Kentucky Enquirer I read of the new Seatbelt Bill working its way through the legislature, and was seriously dismayed on several counts, but primarily, to be blunt, as I am above the age of reason and not adjudged incompetent, the government can not legislate that I protect myself from myself.

Other than my military service I have lived my entire life in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I am a registered Independent, but normally vote Republican primarily because of their usual defense of personal rights and liberties.

Governor Fletcher, I am appalled at your stand on this issue. Sen. Stine, I applaud your position, and hope your review of the legislation will enforce your opposition. Rep. Reinhart, I am unsure of your position, but am hopeful you agree with Sen. Stine and me.

Seatbelt use is a good idea. Since they were mandated in automobiles in 1964 they have saved an untold number of lives. I am not against seatbelts or their usage; I am against state required usage.

Government in this country is designed to be the servant of the people, not their master; this law is not the work of a servant, but a master. I will accept advice from the legislature on how to protect myself, but not their mandates to do so.

I will accept the recommendation that not wearing a seatbelt can be risky; that smoking may be injurious to my health; that too much red meat can kill me. I will not accept laws that necessitate cessation of these activities. As my servant the Commonwealth can advise and advocate a personal course of action, not command one.

I think we are all old enough to remember when it was acceptable to smoke in airplanes and restaurants. The initial request to modify the norm was for a non-smoking area in each of these places. We all know where that beginning has led us. The trite phrase is “Slippery Slope”.

The seatbelt slope started with a recommendation, progressed to a passive law and now is threatening to become invasive. Where will it end? Will the ‘small’ fine ($25.00, plus $101.50 for court costs is a weeks’ groceries for lots of folks) become a larger fine when seatbelt usage doesn’t increase? Possibly progress to a loss of driver’s license over the next few years? Maybe even as high as confiscation of the automobile being driven? (Some areas have enacted this penalty for soliciting prostitution. This punishment for seatbelt usage seems unlikely today; ten years ago it seemed unlikely for soliciting. Fifteen years ago the idea that I could be ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt was considered outlandish.)

Some of the points used in an effort to persuade me this is a good law are interesting as well.

• 388 few brain and spinal injuries;
• 931 traffic deaths in Kentucky in 2003; 2/3 of these victims were not wearing a seatbelt;
• Kentucky ranks 47th in seatbelt usage;
• Kentucky’s Medicaid program would save nearly $41 million over 10 years if this law was enacted.

Over a hundred years ago Mark Twain defined three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics. These points are statistics.

On the first point we are not given the span of time in which these injuries occur. Is it a month; a year; ten years?

Second point- of the 2/3 who were unbuckled and perished in a car accident, how many of those accidents were survivable, had they been buckled in? Of the 1/3 who were properly fastened in, and did not survive, how many would have, had they not been strapped into position?

The third point is based on what data? Tickets issued; accident data; phone polls; who knows? And why does it matter anyway where we ranked?

Last point, if these figures are correct (lets face it, this is a statistical best guess, and probably a best case scenario as well, for maximum impact), this will be a figure of $4.1 million a year, for a program that is $250 million a year in the red. A proverbial drop in the bucket.

For all practical purposes this bill, if enacted, will, according to the government’s own statistics, possibly increase my chances of surviving an accident by .333 percent, possibly save less than 2% of just the deficit in Medicaid, and increase my chances of donating $25 to the courts.

Sen. Stine, as an attorney you can appreciate the concept of precedent. Each statute and legal decision is a building block to the next. Rights are not commandeered overnight. They are chipped away one small and seemingly logical step at a time. Just half an airplane; just half a restaurant remember?

It will also be a stepping stone to possible future statutes to protect me from myself, all for the common good. How long will it be before we can control the sale of red meat to folks who have suffered a heart attack or legally ration sweets to diabetics? Perhaps the legislature can decide we need to control the sale of caffeinated products to those with high blood pressure, or fast food to the part of the populace who are above a statistical weight to height ratio? All this information can put on an ID card. Just show your card before you can purchase a controlled substance- like a pound of ground beef, a Big Mac & fries or a Hershey bar.

Each of these instances is legally akin to a seatbelt statute. They are designed solely to protect an individual from their possibly dangerous actions, based on the possible cost of the consequences of that action to the public. How long until we can legislate against spelunking, hang gliding or failing to exercise? The basic premise is here. All it will take is for the public frog to get used to the temperature of the water, before the heat is turned up another notch.

Thank you all for your time and attention,

An Edjamikated Redneck

I also think that the 'public frog' has felt the temperature of the water, and has decided to make a TEA Party out of it.

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