For example, it is easy – because people don’t think about it precisely – to characterize Libertarians as “selfish” because they (supposedly) don’t want to “help” others.
You know, like Democrats (and Republicans) do.
But hold on. When a Democrat (or a Republican) politician talks about “helping” others, doesn’t he mean taxing others? Is he reaching into his pocket?
Or someone else’s?
Defined with precision, “helping” others in modern political parlance means the use of state power to redistribute wealth – with the politician acting as a middleman. This is a very different thing – morally as well as actually – than one person freely giving of his time or resources to assist another person in need, the precise (and intellectually honest) definition of helping others.
So how about “safety”?
No, not at all.
I hold that anyone who wants to – and is willing to pay – should be able to purchase a car with as many air bags as they like. Throw in back-up cameras, anti-whiplash head restraints (that make it hard to see anything behind you) a roof that will support the weight off the car if it turns upside down (even if it adds several hundred pounds of weight to the car and so makes it use a lot more gas) and so on.
I am opposed to none of these things.
And to being made to subsidize these things.
If – as we are regularly told – America is a free country, then why on earth are we not free to choose for ourselves how much “safety” we want and are willing to pay for? And why are some of us made to subsidize the “safety” other people want but aren’t willing to pay for themselves?
Isn’t this – forcing everyone to buy (and so, subsidize) the degree of “safety” deemed appropriate according to the arbitrary decrees of unelected, ensconced-for-the-duration apparatchiks within the bowels of the federal regulatory agencies – exactly the same as being required to buy only “nutritious” food?
The only reason why not is because the politicians and bureaucrats have gotten around to that…. yet.
But, they will. They must. It is inevitable.
You may remember the history of the Income tax. It was sold as something only “the rich” – the very rich – would ever have to worry about. But once the principle was established that federal bureaucrats could simply take a portion of anyone’s income, it was established that they would eventually take a portion of everyone’s income. An ever-increasing portion. Ta-da. And here we are.
But the dull bought in – because they are dull.They do not insist on precision of language – much less of principle.
Demagogues depend on it.
The not-dull understand that – to get back to car stuff – “safety” is of value to most people, but in varying degrees.
Example: Few people – proportionately – ride motorcycles, in part because motorcycles offer less in the way of “safety” than an enclosed car. But motorcycles are not (yet) illegal and people are free to buy them or not, according to (among other factors) their comfort level with the degree of risk involved in riding a bike.
But no one is forced to buy or ride a bike.
Or not to buy (or ride) a bike.
Why doesn’t the same principle apply to cars?
It used to.
There were “safe” Volvos – the company specialized in that, built its reputation on that – and comparatively less safe cars like the original VW Beetle. The former was a big, heavy car – built literally like a tank. The latter was comparatively flimsy but cost a lot less and was also very light and so very nimble and got good gas mileage, too.
The big (and heavy) Volvo didn’t.
People were free to choose – and pay for – the type of car that met their needs and which provided the degree of “safety” (vs. other parameters) that met their criteria. As opposed to the decreed criteria of a federal bureaucrat.
There are no “unsafe” cars (as defined by having all the equipment mandated by the government) but as a result of this there are also very few – if any – low-cost, lightweight and simple cars.
Are we – as individuals – better off as a result of no longer having the opportunity to decide for ourselves what balance of “safety” vs. cost and other parameters best suits us?
Would it be a Hindenburg-like disaster if we were free to choose?
It seems to work ok (for now) for so many other things. Why not for cars?
Consider the oddity of the paternalist bureaucrat’s logic. He tells us that “safety” is a very important thing – that is, it’s a value. And yet, this value must be forced on people. Who apparently do no appreciate the value.
In fact, it is the paternalistic bureaucrat’s idea of value that must be forced on people. Like your mother hectoring you about eating your veggies. Only we are not children – and federal bureaucrats and politicians are not our parents.
These bureaucrats cannot abide people freely deciding for themselves. It is not enough that – as it was back in the ‘70s – some cars would offer things like air bags, which people were free to buy if they wanted to buy them.
Everyone must have air bags.
Well, if so, I see no logical reason why federal bureaucrats and politicians may not also decree that everyone buy only “nutritious” food. It is available right now – just as air bags once were. The problem – as the paternalistic bureaucrat or politicians views it – is that not everyone eats enough such food. That they are free to choose cheese fries instead of steamed broccolli.
They may not say so openly – yet – but rest assured, it bothers them that people aren’t making “healthy” choices.
How much longer will this be allowed?
And how will we say no when the bureaucrats and politicians insist?
Will you help us?
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