It Never Ends…

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Gawd. Will it ever stop – or even slow down a little?

The latest: NHTSA and the insurance companies want to see fines for not buckling up jacked up to as much as $100 in order to “encourage” higher compliance with mandatory seatbelt laws.

Apparently, the $25 hit that’s the current national average fine just isn’t enough. Neither are the DMV demerit points some states and (of course) the District of Columbia) hit you with if you’re found unbuckled.

Higher fines would improve “compliance” by 6 to 7 percent, according to (yet another) taxpayer-financed study of the obvious (see here:

Well, yeah. Beat people enough and they’ll eventually do what you say, too. Force – and the threat of force – kind of works like that.

But the question ought to be whether there should be any fines at all for declining to wear a seat belt. And if there should be, then we ought to at least be consistent and hit people who don’t exercise, or who are grossly overweight, with fines as a well. Call it it the Tubby Tax. After all, the same reasoning applies – or ought to.

NHTSA and other such nags say wearing a seat belt is safer. True. So is eating three servings of vegetables a day and maintaining a healthy body weight – but (so far) we don’t ticket fatties – including the donut-eaters who issue tickets for not wearing seatbelts.

This is unjust.

Fat people impose much higher costs on “society” in the form of things like early-onset diabetes, arteriosclerosis and so on than do unbuckled drivers – most of whom never impose any costs on anyone at all because they don’t get into major wrecks – hence, their seat belt usage or non-usage is irrelevant.

According to the Society of Actuaries (insurance bean counters), the add-on cost of obesity is nearly $300 million annually ($127 for medical care, $49 billion for productivity losses, and another $72 billion for  disability payments). See:

Meanwhile, the estimated cost imposed by unbuckled drivers is much lower; a mere $8.8 billion might be saved if everyone buckled-up (see:


What we really need to get at here, though, is the idea behind it all – this un-American notion of collective everything. You’re not an individual, responsible for your own life, free to decide how best to live it. You’re part of the Great Collective. Your actions affect others – even though this “affect” is only possible as a result of coercive policies that force us all on each other.

For example: Joe is a disgusting fat slob who eats at McDonald’s every day. He has a heart attack at 32 and goes on disability for life. His medical costs and government dole come out of the general fund – monies the rest of us are forced to pay up in the form of taxes, health care premiums and so on. Hence, we have a rightful case to be pissed off at Joe and to push for new laws that would make other Joe-types live better. We’ll say it’s for their own good but it’s really all about our bottom line.

Well, the same peddler reasoning lies behind this seatbelt stuff. If unbuckled Joe gets into a wreck his medical bills get transferred onto the shoulders of Ye and Thee and so we want to make him buckle-up for “safety.”

But if we could just remember what America was supposed to be all about – the freedom to choose for yourself, to be responsible for yourself – and not be responsible for other people’s choices – we might get this thing back on the tracks.

Joe has every right to choose not to wear his seat belt. But he must be willing to assume the responsibility – and also any consequences – for his choice. If he does happen to get into a wreck his injuries are rightly his problem, his family’s problem; the problem of any who choose to help, if help be needed. That’s where it should end.

Unfortunately, that’s where it all begins – in this mess that is modern America. Joe’s bills get paid for by the Crowd – and the Crowd is not happy. The Crowd demands more laws to keep things in line.

These are the true terms of the debate – and not just the seatbelt law debate. We’re going to have to decide what kind of country we want, what kinds of lives we want to live.

Option A is a henpecky, busybody society in which everything you do is everyone’s else’s business, too. Where there’s no real choice, there’s no real freedom. Your individualism is drowned in a sea of We.

Option B is what America used to be. You do your thing, I do mine. Our lives intersect on a voluntary basis only. I can’t force you to pay my medical bills; you can’t force me to “buckle-up for safety.”

Which one sounds more appealing to you?


  1. Higher fines would improve “compliance” by 6 to 7 percent..

    Compliance is spelled wrong. They should have spelled it “revenue”.

    Follow the money.

  2. Mr. Peters,
    Thanks for taking the time to write. I just wanted to let you know that Big Brother in Mississippi saved the world by stopping me from purchasing a decongestant that would have relieved my cold symptoms. Previously I would purchase Sudafed right off the shelf. Later I had to take a little picture of it off the shelf and give it to the druggist and show my government papers. Today the little pictures were gone from the shelves and I went to the druggist and asked for a package of Sudafed. She tells me that I cannot have it without a prescription. It was like being hit with a ton of bricks. I am fed up with their bs. We need to be saved from politicians not by them.

  3. bobby. again. you just dont quite get it…because you think in terms of “we.” We will never fix anything, because the people, the we, will always divvy up the share to themselves. And how do they divvy up the shares to themselves? Precisely how it is done now. To steal it from the other “we’s.” And how do they do it, rather justify the stealing? Well they call it taxes, and tickets, and laws and such, so that the other common men, massman, or sheeple, or clovers, or “we’s,” can rationalize it in their feeble minds. Your tea party just wants a slice of the pie for themselves.
    Be your own man Bobby. For once. Establish some principles, like for instance, don’t let the government steal from you, and stand behind that principle, and then see how everyone acts around you. It will give you a different perspective.

  4. Eric, you are absolutely right! I’ve been screaming about this seat belt thing for years. In Georgia they just added a $200. fee for the state beyond whatever the speeding ticket is. We have cops sitting around in medians and curbs in the dark with no lights on in the stealth mode…how safe is that. What about unmarked cars…how safe is that…what is the point. What does that have to do with safety. Its all a scam for the insurance companies to maybe hedge their bets but for sure to enrich the local gummit lord. I’ve been screaming to the local tea party. If we can’t fix it locally forget about mob hill. I could scream for days. Good job. bobby

    • It’s even worse in Maryland, which I escaped a few years ago for the relative (emphasis on relative) sanity of Virginia. In Maryland, the cops use night vision equipment to see who is and who is not wearing seat belts. And they ticket accordingly. Great revenue source for the State. Too bad for its subjects.

      • For now, VA is not a primary enforcement state as regards seatbelts. That means they can’t pull you over merely for not “buckling up.” There must be a moving violation antecedent to the issuance of a seatbelt ticket.

        This is another area – gun bans being another – that’s a line in the sand for me. I will not “buckle up.” On principle. The whole thing is so god-damned degrading.

        Am I alone in resenting it? Being made to feel eight years old again? “Buckle up,” little boy!

        From my parents – when I was eight – ok.

        From the state? As a grown man?

        Fuck that – and fuck them!

        • I buckle up because I’m sure it’ll help avoid injuries in a crash I’m highly unlikely to have, but my primary reason is control. The belt tends to pin me down in the seat while I take corners at near half a G.

          It’s always been a habit and I feel naked without it. But most importantly I CHOOSE to wear it. Any contrivance that causes discomfort when under the influence of velocity and G-forces can only be considered a hindrance and therefore an increased risk.

          Some decades ago the powers-that-be thought helmets in cars would be a fantastic idea. Didn’t take much to shout that one down.

        • Dear Eric,

          “Am I alone in resenting it?


          The gubmint here on Taiwan has just imposed seatbelt laws for the back seat of taxis.

          Taxis now display stern bilingual Chinese and English warning stickers reading “Buckle up, or pay up!”

          Every time I am forced to read that, anger wells up in me.

          Like Olaf, I am in the habit of buckling up when I get behind the wheel. I too like the feeling of being secured in place during hard cornering. My Alfa Romeo Spider had roll bar mounted racing harnesses.

          But that has nothing to do with sanctimonious orders from some meddlesome clover in a costume?

          There’s a larger lesson behind these piecemeal encroachments on our rights and liberty.

          That lesson is this:

          Any coercive measure rationalized as merely annoying will eventually be taken to its logical extreme, to where it becomes utterly intolerable.

          Count on it. It is never a matter of if. It is always a matter of when.

          Case in point, airport metal detectors have now become strip searches and sexual molestation.

          I predict coerced exploratory surgery to ascertain whether a passenger has implanted an explosive device within his or her own body.

  5. Hi Eric,

    In your article, you state:
    “NHTSA and other such nags say wearing a seat belt is safer. True.”
    However, that is NOT true.
    New Hampshire does not require that adults wear seat belts,
    yet is in the lower range for motor vehicle deaths by state per capita:

    How does it make you feel to know that the government even lies about seat belts making you safer—and STILL wants higher penalties?!

    Incidentally, auto insurance is ALSO optional in New Hampshire.


    Concord, NH

  6. Mr. Peters,

    Nice article, it’s one I could easily have written. You’ve mirrored my sentiments exactly.

    I refuse to wear seat belts because I don’t like them. That’s my unalienable right. When I see the idiotic idiot highway notice signs with the posting “Click it or Ticket,” I say back it to “Stick It!!!!”

    My first seat belt ticket was $23 given to me in a parking mall lot. The second would have been $25 -$50 but because CA has an extreme budget problem extra penalties have been added so it cost $132. I’m very observant so as to not get tickets. If it weren’t for that cute Asian chick walking along the sidewalk, I wouldn’t have gotten the last ticket.

    Someday I may just lead a rebellion to change these kinds of laws. In the meantime, I will exercise my right of civil disobedience.

    Thanks for writing. I generally find your articles interesting.

    (P.S. I am leading a rebellion against slavery, coercive funding of government education and usurpation of parental rights at

  7. Here, in Arizona, you can get a (revenue) ticket for not wearing your seat belt in your giant, battle-ready Hummer “for your own protection” but can’t for driving or being a passenger without a helmet on the flimsiest motorcycle in the world.

    A foolish inconsistency is the staple of the bureaucratic mind-set.

    • Of course! My folks live in Scottsdale, so I’m hip to this disparity. But the Clovers know best…
      We, the non-Clovers, need to figure out a way to get the Clovers out of our lives and our wallets.

      Maybe we can ship them all to Antarctica?

  8. Thanks! And you’re right – although most people most of the time would benefit from wearing a seat belt, as with air bags, there are (and have been) times when seat belts can harm or even kill you. It ought to be up to each of us to decide whether the risk (and costs) outweigh the potential benefit – since it’s our bodies (and our money) that’s at issue. Of course, there are people (Clovers) who believe they have more of an ownership claim over our own bodies – literally – than we do!

    On bikes: I ride and have noted in other articles the disparity between what the law demands of car drivers vs. riders. In Va., you can ride wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but you have to wear a helmet.

    It’s all ridiculous – and tyrannical.

  9. Dear Eric:

    I like your attitude on those mandatory seat belt laws and fines. I wrote to you a while back about the problems we short folks have trying to buy a new car; I left out the part about seat belts. As things stand, I speak of a seat belt as being in “decapitation mode” unless measures are taken to a. not use one or b. find a way to defeat the system. Happily, early on when that dame “Joan Whoever” was the Czarina of National Highway Safety and a real menace to the driving public, I found a gadget which I can use to lock the belt at a comfortable distance from my juggler vein which passes the observation of police on the prowl for noncompliant-seat-belt types like me.

    My husband and I are currently in Florida and Bike Week in Daytona is in full zoom. As we were driving tonight in the comfort and safety of our 1996 Town Car and legally but not actually seat belted, we couldn’t help but notice all the passing motor cyclists and nary a seat belt on either “him” or the “Bike Babe” hanging onto to “him”. Hey I like the image! But just wondered…if we in our heavy, safe, town car, got stopped by a cop we could still be fined for not wearing a seat belt while these free spirits are whizzing past us unbelted, unhelmeted exactly as if we lived in a free country?

    We’re a little old for motorcycles but I sense a certain inequity here.

    Motorists of the world unite! You have only your seat belts to lose! (and the fines and the points against you and the increase in your insurance rates).

    Regards, Ann Cianflone

  10. Well David segued me into this next comment quite perfectly. It is about language. I believe that we are not apparently speaking the same language as the federal government, or lawmakers, or slavedrivers, or masters, or whatever it is they want to be called.
    Malcolm X. In a speech about violence vs non-violence, speaks very well today of the problems of how now everyone is basically a slave to the gov, no longer just blacks or other minorities. You just have to use some creative reading between the lines to see the similarities.
    “Brothers and sisters, if you and I would just realize that once we learn to talk the language that they understand, they will then get the point. You can’t ever reach a man if you don’t speak his language. If a man speaks the language of brute force, you can’t come to him with peace. Why, good night! He’ll break you in two, as he has been doing all along. If a man speaks French, you can’t speak to him in German. If he speaks Swahili, you can’t communicate with him in Chinese. You have to find out what does this man speak. And once you know his language, learn how to speak his language, and he’ll get the point. There’ll be some dialogue, some communication, and some understanding will be developed.

    You’ve been in this country long enough to know the language the Klan speaks. They only know one language. And what you and I have to start doing in 1965 — I mean that’s what you have to do, because most of us already been doing it — is start learning a new language. Learn the language that they understand. And then when they come up on our doorstep to talk, we can talk. And they will get the point. There’ll be a dialogue, there’ll be some communication, and I’m quite certain there will then be some understanding. Why? Because the Klan is a cowardly outfit. They have perfected the art of making Negroes be afraid. As long as the Negro’s afraid, the Klan is safe. But the Klan itself is cowardly. One of them will never come after one of you. They all come together. Sure, and they’re scared of you.

    And you sit there when they’re putting the rope around your neck saying, “Forgive them, Lord, they know not what they do.” As long as they’ve been doing it, they’re experts at it, they know what they’re doing!

    No, since they federal government has shown that it isn’t going to do anything about it but talk, it is a duty, it’s your and my duty as men, as human beings, it is our duty to our people, to organize ourselves and let the government know that if they don’t stop that Klan, we’ll stop it ourselves. And then you’ll see the government start doing something about it. But don’t ever think that they’re going to do it just on some kind of morality basis, no. So I don’t believe in violence — that’s why I want to stop it. And you can’t stop it with love, not love of those things down there, no. So, we only mean vigorous action in self-defense, and that vigorous action we feel we’re justified in initiating by any means necessary.

    Now, the press, behind something like that, they call us racist and people who are “violent in reverse.” This is how they psycho you. They make you think that if you try to stop the Klan from lynching you, you’re practicing “violence in reverse.” Pick up on this, I hear a lot of you all parrot what the [white] man says. You say, “I don’t want to be a Ku Klux Klan in reverse.” Well, you – heh! — if a criminal comes around your house with his gun, brother, just because he’s got a gun and he’s robbing your house, brother, and he’s a robber, it doesn’t make you a robber because you grab your gun and run him out. No, see, the man is using some tricky logic on you. And he has absolutely got a Ku Klux Klan outfit that goes through the country frightening black people. Now, I say it is time for black people to put together the type of action, the unity, that is necessary to pull the sheet off of them so they won’t be frightening black people any longer. That’s all. And when we say this, the press calls us “racist in reverse.”

    “Don’t struggle — only within the ground rules that the people you’re struggling against have laid down.” Why, this is insane. But it shows you how they can do it. With skillful manipulating of the press, they’re able to make the victim look like the criminal, and the criminal look like the victim.

    Right now in New York we had a couple cases where police grabbed the brother and beat him unmercifully — and then charged him with assaulting them. They used the press to make it look like he’s the criminal and they’re the victim. This is how they do it, and if you study how they do it [t]here, then you’ll know how they do it over here. It’s the same game going all the time, and if you and I don’t awaken and see what this man is doing to us, then it’ll be too late. They may have the gas ovens already built before you realize that they’re hot.

    One of the shrewd ways that they use the press to project us in the eye or image of a criminal: they take statistics. And with the press they feed these statistics to the public, primarily the white public. Because there are some well-meaning persons in the white public as well as bad-meaning persons in the white public. And whatever the government is going to do, it always wants the public on its side, whether it’s the local government, state government, federal government. So they use the press to create images. And at the local level, they’ll create an image by feeding statistics to the press — through the press showing the high crime rate in the Negro community. As soon as this high crime rate is emphasized through the press, then people begin to look upon the Negro community as a community of criminals.

    And then any Negro in the community can be stopped in the street. “Put your hands up,” and they pat you down. You might be a doctor, a lawyer, a preacher, or some other kind of Uncle Tom. But despite your professional standing, you’ll find that you’re the same victim as the man who’s in the alley. Just because you’re Black and you live in a Black community, which has been projected as a community of criminals. This is done. And once the public accepts this image also, it paves the way for a police-state type of activity in the Negro community. They can use any kind of brutal methods to suppress Blacks because “they’re criminals anyway.” And what has given this image? The press again, by letting the power structure or the racist element in the power structure use them in that way.”

  11. I think that you should’ve pushed the extra tenth of a mile and also stated that even a low-fine law (in fact, every law) carries with it the ultimate sanction of loss of life should one choose not to pay the fine.

    A seemingly insignificant $25 ticket can morph over time into an inability to renew driver’s licenses and bench warrants. When you decide “I’m driving anyway, license or not, because it’s my decision whether to buckle up”, when you are pulled over and officer Not-so-friendly commands you to step out of the vehicle, a decision whether you comply or state, “Is this about that little dink of a $25 ticket?? No, thanks, I’ll stay in my car. Have a good day!” Well, good luck with that option.

    At best it’ll be a tasing, at worst the executor of your estate will decide whether to file a suit for wrongful death against the PD. And, we know how that would turn out (“Our officers’ dealt with a potentially life-threatening situation to themselves, and properly followed departmental procedure. Plus, the alleged victim was not following a direct command since department policy is that of ‘Dominate, Intimidate, and Control’, and most importantly, he had not paid a $25 seatbelt fine. He was obviously a threat to Life As We Know It!”

    • Hi David – thanks for posting! You’re absolutely right. Even peaceful non-compliance with such edicts will eventually be met with violent force. There are videos posted here of (a) a middle-aged housewife with her small kids inside the vehicle being Tazered for nothing more than trying to discuss a seatbelt ticket with the cop and (b) an elderly man being Tazered in his own home for refusing to “comply” with the cops’ belligerent demands. It’s sickening – and frightening. Worse, there are people (see Clover’s posts) who amen and rah-rah such things. Who believe we Mundanes owe immediate, servile obedience to anyone wearing a government costume, for any purpose the government chooses to assert. That’s what will lead to the end of freedom in this country.

  12. great cs lewis quote. thats one of my favorite lessons. but yall look at this the wrong way. sure there are penalties. and yes they are severe. but that is why there are only a few who are strong. and it doesnt have to be standing up to the authorities? its about not following their rules, AND not getting caught. no one said true freedom was supposed to be easy.
    and whats worse is that supposed “libertarians” look at the world as if everyone else is playing by their rules. the ol’ libertarian standby…that “I won’t mess with anyone else’s property as long as they don’t mess with mine,” and everything will work smoothly. Well, guess what? Everyone else is messing with your property, your money, your time, and your freedom. So what the fuck are you going to do about it? Blog??
    You can;t change mass man…the sheep…they are blobs that can’t be gotten rid of. Which is all the more reason to be an individual…and be your own man. Because remember…whats the worst that can happen to you? Die? Well…if you die you won’t care what happens next…or really anything. So be your own men.

    • This is the ticket. I agree with the concept. Advocating liberty is great; but one should also pursue – and demand it – as well. It is moral, and manly, to do whatever you can (and can get away with) to avoid, escape and ignore immoral laws – from the little ones like mandatory buckle up laws to the bigger ones, too. Be practical. But resist. Disobey. Do what you think is best vs. waiting like a dog to be told what to do. And, defend yourself! Fenimore’s right. Freedom isn’t free and the thought we all should take from that concept is that perhaps we should become as militant and revolutionary in our own way as the authoritarians Left and Right are in theirs.

  13. The seatbelt laws will follow the same trajectory as the Drug War. The fines will get ever harsher, the “crackdowns” ever more severe.
    As C.S. Lewis wrote:
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
    The nanny state is just the police state in drag.
    On a related subject, I was saddened to read of the passing of Dr. Hattner (of He was someone willing to stand up to the thugs, and he will be missed.

  14. A quote by Henry Hazlitt. For individuals to live by.

    “Man must not be afraid of ‘not doing what everybody else does’ or of ‘doing what nobody else does.’ It means that he must not be a mere mimic or sheep. He must think for himself. He must examine for himself the (his) grounds of right and wrong, and not let the principles upon which his life is conducted be laid down for him merely by other people’s opinions. He must not be afraid of criticism if he feels in his own heart that he is right. This is an exacting ideal. It requires the highest moral courage.”

    • Hazlitt was a great friend of freedom, but the risks are high for disobedience. For instance, the laws increasingly target disobedient parents with child endangerment and neglect. If it can’t already be done, I can imagine a time soon when a parent who is not wearing a seatbelt could be charged for endangering his child, even if the child himself is buckled.

      The libertarian whose critical warnings we have not heeded is not Hazlitt but Thomas Szasz, who has written voluminously for 60 years about the “therapeutic state.” The particular character of American totalitarianism is more therapeutic (“in our best interest”) than any that has preceded it, though even the Nazis waged war on smoking and other sins against perfect health.

  15. What I want to see is some woman (or her family after her death) sue the hell out of the manufacturers who make seat belt harnesses that cut across the neck. How is that safe? I actually used to wear seat belts till they added the harness.

    And Eric….bite your tongue on the obesity and exercise thing. I can just picture it now. Piped in music and mandated morning community exercise….

  16. “Of course mama’ll help to build the wall.”

    I agree that there is a consequence of each decision we make. Some consequences are easier to deal with than others.

    To take this to another arena: Would the Wall Street paper-pushers have still made the risky investments they made if they knew that no one would bail them out for their actions? They want all the profits from their risk taking, but they do not want to pay for failing.

    Perhaps society needs to decide what they want. If they want more of a “nanny state” that “protects” us from cradle to grave, then society will need to pay for it.

    Some things may be worthwhile to pay for as a society. Deciding what is worthwhile and how to pay for it is the key point.

    • Yes. And it’s interesting that there’s no moral hazard (criminal prosecution, fines – anything) for those Wall Street fraudsters – but you and I get hassled because we’re not “buckled up for safety.”


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