You have probably heard many conservatives recite “Land of the Free – Home of the Brave.” I find it curious. Would you really call us a Free or Brave nation at this point? Think about how many laws there are. Do you know how many laws are on the books? Do not feel bad if you don’t because, by the government’s own admission, there are so many laws that they simply cannot be counted (Cali, 2013). Scary thought, right?
Still, officers are tasked with enforcing these laws – all the laws they know nothing about, including the Constitution. What do these laws consist of? Most of these laws are just actions someone decided they did not want you to commit or something they thought they could make some revenue on. Oddly enough, most of the time, no one was hurt when these supposed crimes or actions were committed.
Dumb laws are everywhere. In my state, we have a law that states that if two trains meet on the same track, neither shall proceed until the other has passed. A town in my state says people can’t sing the alphabet on the streets at night. Never mind that government officials actually took the time to write such laws (which is a waste of taxpayer dollars), these ridiculous laws exist.
Ironically, many of these laws have some fine attached to them. These fines are usually excessive and are somehow supposed to make us think about what we have done. Really, the city, state, or federal government gets more of your money when these crazy laws are broken.
Take seat-belt laws, for instance. Have you ever given that law any REAL thought? A few years ago, I got pulled over for this violation and had a discussion with a young 28-year-old cop who ended up with his hand on his un-snapped pistol. I was not speeding, and I was not driving recklessly. My driving record was clean, and I have never been convicted of a crime or domestic violence. However, because I chose not to wear my seat-belt, I was placed into a position where an officer decided to have his gun at the ready and my rights trampled upon.
In my state, I can ride down the road on my motorcycle without a helmet because I am responsible for my own actions and life. For that matter, my child can ride a school bus, and she is not required to wear a seat-belt. In fact, seat-belts are not even installed on most school buses because research indicates that seat-belts do not make school buses safer (MacKechnie, 2016). Yet I can drive down the road, minding my business in my own private car, get pulled over, get fined, and harassed because I was not wearing my seat-belt?
We are told this is for our $afety. However, there are quite a few things wrong with this thought if we really examine it. First of all, plenty of non-government and non-insurance studies suggest that seat-belts are not all that they are cracked up to be, which prompted the desire and need for airbags. Furthermore, if seat-belts were so effective, I am sure airbags wouldn’t have been invented, considering that seat-belts came first. That is not the point, so let me digress. When exactly did the government gain the right to become our parents and punish us monetarily when we do something unsafe?
Let me say that I agree that manufacturers should be made to make such features available. I think seat-belt laws should definitely exist in this regard. In other words, at least make the opportunity to protect myself available in my car. This is similar to how buying a motorcycle helmet or gloves is an option when riding my bike. I can even agree that any minor in a moving vehicle should be made to wear a restraining device or car seat if they are small enough. That is fine, but to force a grown adult to do so is crazy and to fine them for not doing so is even worse. Let me explain.
Yes, I am sure many who have bought into the propaganda are appalled that I would resist such laws. Of course, by now, you should know that I usually have a pointed reason when it comes to things that I resist. Aside from the fact that a bored cop with nothing better to do will be given the green light to infringe upon your unalienable rights for having NOT done a single thing in the world wrong, the numbers paint a picture that is much different than what the propaganda says regarding their enforcement of such laws.
Let me stress that I am not saying that seat-belts cannot save some lives. Try to understand that safety is not the point. I am only using seat-belts as an example. The idea here is to question EVERYTHING. Let me demonstrate.
It is clearly my position that seat-belt laws are not about safety. Instead, I believe that such laws infringe upon our rights and are made to take our money. Can I prove that?
Let us start with the money. We know that if a person is not wearing a seat-belt in an accident, an insurance company will seek to reduce the amount of money it is obligated to pay under a legal principle known as “comparative negligence.” That clearly has little to do with how much the government or insurance company cares about you and your family. It seems that it has more to do with how much money they can retain.
Meanwhile, seat-belt enforcement requirements at many different departments have increased nationwide, creating a de-facto quota system. The “why” for this is simple. It provides revenue for the jurisdiction. Of course, before I can prove the revenue part, I must prove that a quota system actually happens.
So look at Waldo, Florida, where officers in the Waldo Police Department had to blow the whistle to the city council. The department’s chief was assigning required quotas for writing tickets (Bamforth, 2014). This is one example of many. Blatant or de-facto – it happens, and Police and cities across the nation are raking in all kinds of revenue as a result.
Statistics are hard to come by, but by looking at some of the states that provide them, we can get a rough idea of what I am talking about. Take Delaware, for instance. In 2012, a seat-belt violation cost roughly $83.50, and officers issued 1,041 seat-belt citations during their Click it or Ticket campaign. That means that during the 14-day campaign, the state could make an additional $100,000. Nebraska was able to rake in between $400,000 and $750,000 in the same two weeks (Dwoskin, 2013). Now, imagine bigger states, more cities, more cops, varied fines, and so on. Now imagine this over the course of the entire year instead of just during that two-week program, but remember, it is for your $afety.
Let me get to my point and talk about Rights. My number one reason to resist such laws is that they infringe on my ability to choose for myself; to act on my own accord, and ultimately, because these kinds of laws clearly and blatantly violate our personal freedoms and thereby the principles of the Constitution while at the same time, rob us of the bread we have earned for having hurt nobody! These types of laws are cash cows for the different jurisdictions, and it is my opinion that any officer who enforces such laws is violating their oath. PERIOD!
I also believe that since these laws violate personal freedom, they are void and unworthy of being enforced. This is why so many knowledgeable officers will not participate any longer. Perhaps some officers are just familiar with the following:
“All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” (Marbury vs. Madison)
“Every law consistent with the Constitution will have been made in pursuance of the powers granted by it. Every usurpation or law repugnant to it cannot have been made in pursuance of its powers. The latter will be nugatory and void.” (Thomas Jefferson, Elliot, p. 4:187-88.)
“There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.” (Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, #78.)
“Clearly, a federal law which is contrary to the Constitution is no law at all; it is null, void, invalid. And a Supreme Court decision, which is not a ‘law,’ has no ‘supremacy’—even if it is faithfully interpreting the Constitution. So it is the height of absurdity to claim that a Supreme Court decision that manifestly violates the Constitution is the ‘supreme law of the land.” (William Jasper)
I know… I know. They sell this program on the idea that safety is paramount and that hospital costs for an unbelted crash victim are higher than those for one belted. Fine, but have you ever asked yourself whether the money collected is going towards hospital stays? Of course, it is not. And shouldn’t we examine that safety claim anyway… just in case I am wrong?
I have already admitted that in some cases, a seat-belt might help you. Understand that it also means that in some cases, it simply will not. Officials promote that wearing a seat-belt may decrease your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a crash by approximately 50% (Delaware.gov, 2014). Okay, but has anyone given that statement any real thought? Literally, when it comes to being seriously injured or killed in a car wreck, you might as well flip a coin regarding wearing the belt.
Of course, we know for a fact that in over 25 percent of accidents, seat-belts do not or cannot help, and we also know that the real benefit of mandatory seat-belt laws is significantly smaller than the estimate used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Cohen & Einav, 2003). This tactic is something referred to as “embellishment.” I’m not done!
As reported in TIME Magazine, John Adams, a risk expert and emeritus professor of geography at University College London, examined the data at length and over an extended period of time. Adams first began to look at the numbers more than 30 years ago. He has stated clearly “that contrary to conventional wisdom, mandating the use of seat-belts in 18 countries resulted in either no change or actually a net increase in road accident deaths” (Bjerklie, 2006).
Folks… this is probably why airbags are required in modern cars. Clearly, some did not examine the evidence objectively, and we are paying for it as a result. In my opinion, we should not be passing laws based on bloated myths and misconceptions; especially when it results in a government taking more money from the hands of its citizenry and especially when that fine is coming from someone who is playing with a radio, a computer and their phone while driving.
Now let us look at it from the point that really matters; a freedom standpoint. In this country, adults are supposed to have freedom. They can smoke, drink, have unprotected sex, not exercise, eat fast food, or even go to a doctor, all of which (statistically speaking) have a very high chance of killing them. That is what freedom is supposed to be about. Freedom includes risk and personal responsibility.
This is because (at least in theory) a free adult alone is responsible for the consequence of their actions. But this somehow magically changes when they are driving a car without a seat-belt on? Maybe I completely misunderstand this whole freedom thing. Did everyone forget Patrick Henry’s cry, “Give me liberty or give me death,” or do they not teach that anymore?
Please excuse my confusion; after all – I heard somewhere that we are the land of the Free, yet I should remind everyone that the U.S. boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world and has more prisoners and prisons than any other country on the planet (Wing, 2013). The fact that more people do not share my confusion is beyond me.
Sure, some will say that if I do not buckle up and I die, it affects my family, my insurance company, and so on. Okay, so what if I am riding my motorcycle down the road under the same scenario? What is the difference?
Yes, if I die, my family will be affected, but I have news for everyone; we are all going to die of something, and I would much rather die FREE than not. Of course, we can argue the hypothetical for days, and it does not change the following and fundamental facts:
Such laws violate our personal liberties. I speak of seat-belt laws specifically because that is easy to wrap our minds around. It is so much more than that, and I am merely trying to demonstrate how you should examine the “embellishments” provided to you. This is one law. Can you imagine if we examined every law like this? Please take a few minutes to examine civil forfeiture and seizure laws and contrast them to the Constitution these enforcers swore to uphold and defend. It is not ironic; it is hypocritical.
Think about laws that stop people from collecting rainwater or gardening on their own property. Think about the laws that keep people from setting up solar panels or wind turbines in the attempt to save themselves some money. Think about using your Social Security Number as identification, firearm licenses, or even the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.
This list goes on and on. We should ask each other how we can really consider ourselves to be a free nation when A) we have so many laws that nobody can count them, B) (again) we incarcerate more people than another other nation on the planet, and C) we enforce laws that give government money instead of protecting liberty. Are we really free, or have we finally bought into the idea that we should be paying for privileges? Shouldn’t someone who swore an oath to protect the Constitution by helping us navigate this better, or is there a bigger corruption at play?