Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thank Gawd for Gridlock

In the mountains of Idaho, in a place called Wildhorse Campground, this embedded tune was played something like 50 times. I don't think that is an exaggeration. There was plenty of whiskey that weekend. Campfires, guns, and fishing poles. Things to like. Not a bad place to throw a retirement party. No more small town politics, no more meetings, no more law enforcement. 

Legislative bodies love to pass laws. They really enjoy passing laws when they think the constituents are watching and supportive. When they get a little over zealous with all that law passing- thankfully we have a remedy called "gridlock." As a Libertarian, I have DNA that demands that any law passed better be proven useful and that government had better not trample my rights or my freedom. I expect results if you are going to pick my pockets. By my internal controls, seat belt laws barely get the nod.

I don't mind that the insurance lobby got away with that piece of seat belt trickery. That is called risk management. The truth is...is that seat belts do save lives. Particularly in rollovers. Insurance companies save billions in health claims and litigation costs. Greater operating profits. So maybe there is such a thing as a "win-win." Money, like virtually everything else, was the real driving force behind seat belt laws. I'm ok with that, well kind of...  

Years ago, I was attending a statewide conference on seat belt enforcement. Just after Idaho passed their first seat belt law. There were cops from all over the state, lawyers, judges, state officials. Lectures. A lot of propaganda and tail wagging. During one particular lecture, I listened to one of those bouncy, vibrant gals, extolling the virtues of the law and why we should enforce it. It was the first lecture of the morning and odds were, I was nursing a hangover. Those vibrant types tend to irritate the shit out of me. Particularly if they sound like crusaders. This gal possessed that recipe,"click it or ticket" she would say. We might never have crossed paths had she not droned on for about five minutes on how the seat belt law would lower insurance costs. How we would all save money. Blah...blah...blah. It was that segment of her lecture that got my attention and doomed her to a "chance" meeting with me during the break. She was about to meet a libertarian with a badge and a hangover.

I sprung the ambush just outside the ladies restroom in the hallway. I introduced myself and after exchanging the obligatory "nice job" pleasantries, I asked her just how much money I could expect to save on my auto insurance premiums as a result of this new law. She was kind of speechless. I then told her that interior safety designs of automobiles began in earnest in 1969. I said that during my lifetime, vehicle related deaths and injuries had been cut nearly in half with the advent of safer and stronger auto design, strict and rigid DUI enforcement, engineering improvements, airbags, and yet not once had my insurance premiums declined or held steady. In fact I said, they had always risen. But that was not my point. I explained that I am a cop. My job is to enforce the law and gain compliance. I told her that I didn't give a damn whether the insurance companies improved their margins and made more money. I don't work for insurance companies. I told her to be sure and call me though, just in case those generous insurance companies were going to cut us a check and pass those savings on to us in time for Christmas. She didn't invite me to lunch that day.

I can't stand Geico and those stupid gekko commercials. Or those Progressive commercials with that silly broad dressed in white asking stupid questions and yelling, "discount!" Geezus, who dreams that shit up? I feel good knowing that all those lives we've saved have enabled insurance companies to bombard us with that cutting edge television.

A pretty good case can be made that seat belts save lives and reduce injury. I can live with that while I wait for my insurance savings check in the mail. But what I can't live with- are legislators stealing our freedom in some willy nilly fashion which this current crew likes to do. Government running our lives and telling us how to live while they are reaching into our pockets. Every time government passes a law, we lose freedom. We lose money. I can't wait for a little gridlock.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It burns my butt that the country is swirling around the inside of a giant toilet bowel and our PTB are passing legislation to control what kids are eating at school for lunch. It's not the business of our federal government what kids are eating. Period.