I’d object less to being told I must wear a helmet when I ride my motorcycle because it’s “risky” if it weren’t done by a cop who is 30 pounds heavy, hypertensive at 40 and a regular consumer of fried pastries (i.e., donuts). Shouldn’t he be out for a jog or some something? Why is his “risky” activity ok, but mine actionable?
It’s an example of what Southerners call the “yankee” mindset.
A kind of moralistic lecturing by unpleasant, intellectually solipsistic people who never think anything they do (or like or dislike) is something that ought to be censored.
I’ll concede that it’s “risky” to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. Or for that matter, to ride a motorcycle at all. So what? It is also “risky” – arguably, much more so – to be 30 pounds heavy, hypertensive and sedentary. And many other things besides. Why are some things arbitrarily decreed fair game for punishment while others are considered (by the law) harmless or at least, personal choices the law is indifferent to?
If we agreed to abide by rational, objective cost-benefit analysis (for the sake of discussion; I am not going to debate the merits of the inherently collectivist premise of this argument) who “imposes greater costs on society”? Is it the helmet-less motorcycle rider?
Or the disgusting fatbody?
This is fairly easy to rough estimate.
About 4,500-5,000 motorcyclists are killed each year(see here). According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of people hurt each while riding a bike is about 120,000 (see here). The CDC does not break down the injuries, so the 120k includes everything from minor (road rash) to major (i.e., permanently disabling) injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did a survey of costs per wreck (see here) that lists a high of about $30k-$50k in costs per wreck – for riders sans helmet.
It is a lot of money. But it is nowhere near the “cost to society” imposed by obesity – which is as much a “choice” as riding a motorcycle without a helmet.
The current population of the United States is about 316 million. The same CDC that inveigled against “allowing” helmet-less motorcycle riders to “impose costs on society” also says that roughly 35 percent of the 316 million current population qualifies as obese (see here). That’s a lot of blubber. About 110 million fat bastards who are imposing billions in “costs to society” – and not being restricted or punished for their actions in any way. There are no Waistband (or arm fat) Checkpoints. No tickets issued for “excessive avoirdupois.” The obese are not even made to pay more per pound for their health insurance – even though (by the standard of “costs imposed”) they sure as hell ought to. A fat bastard is statistically (and actually) much more likely to develop chronic – and hugely costly – health debilities, including diabeetus (which can last for decades) while most bikers do not wreck and hence do not get injured at all and so never impose a cent in “costs” to “society.” But they are presumed cost-imposers and dealt with harshly – while the fatties are left to their Cheetos and sweet tea in peace.
Because there are so many fat bastards – and they vote. Or rather, they outvote motorcyclists.
It was not riders who clamored for – much less voted for – mandatory helmet laws. It was politicians and the general public, many of them disgusting fatbodies.
It all comes down to whose proverbial ox is being gored.
Or rather, who happens to have power – and what happens to be popular (or not) at any given moment.
This is why – to dredge up a second example – “drunk” driving has become a baby step shy of pederasty in terms of social (and legal) sanction … while driving while Parkinsonian (or Glaucomian) is considered almost ok. The former will be crucified if he should run a light and kill someone; the latter will be sympathized with as a “nice old man” who didn’t mean any harm. Yet he chose to drive while feeble (or blind) as much as the other guy chose to drive while drunk.
It gets tiresome.
I wrote a few months back about the loathsome worldview called utilitarian (see here). America is the inheritor – the expositor – of this vacuous philosophy of subjectivism. Of the “greatest good for the greatest number” – as defined by those who wield the greatest power.
As one of my readers likes to quip: Fuck ’em and feed ’em fish heads.
A donut-eating cop has as much right to hassle me for riding my bike without a helmet as I have to hassle him about not eating right and failing to exercise enough.
Which, of course, is no right at all – in both cases.
How about we all just leave each other alone for a change? Do your thing, I’ll do my mine. We don’t have to approve of what the other guy’s doing. Just respect that he’s got a right to do it, even if it may be harmful to himself. So long as whatever he’s doing isn’t hurting anyone else, leave him be.
Because it’s his life – not yours.
Americans used to grok that. I’m hopeful that – one day – they will again.
Throw it in the Woods?
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