There’s a lot of buzz right now about a story of a motorcyclist who was taking part in a protest of mandatory helmet laws. Apparently, while riding in the protest, he lost control of his bike and fell, cracking his head open on the concrete and ended up dying from his injuries. An ironic tragedy.
I think it’s interesting that the debate around this issue always centers around weather or not wearing a helmet is safer than not wearing a helmet. To me, that’s a no brainer. If you wear any kind of protective gear at all, you are obviously a certain percentage safer against harm. That shouldn’t be the argument here.
The real argument is whether or not the government has the right to force people to do a certain thing, even if it means the citizen will be safer because of it.
When it really comes down to it, this isn’t about saving people. It’s about saving money. The government is a major payer of healthcare services in this country now, and so I think in the coming years you will see all sorts of very restrictive and personally invasive laws being passed in order to try and mitigate their costs. The other major liable party is insurance companies, and you can bet that every single law that has to do with safety was directly influenced by them.
Now, even if the government is acting out of pure self interest, shouldn’t we pass these laws simply because they really do help keep people safe? I mean, the ultimate outcome is better right? I say no, because you can’t put a price on personal freedom and responsibility. We’ve seen a steady reduction in personal freedoms even in my short lifetime and I honestly believe that the founding fathers would be shocked at what we’ve become.
The kicker though is that you can’t have real freedom without actual responsibility. You can’t scream for freedom and then complain that nobody protected you when something goes wrong. We in America have a huge problem with that.
Anyway, the helmet debate is and interesting one because it’s a perfect micro-example of some of the challenges our country is facing.
And for the record, I always wear a full face helmet, armored motorcycle jacket and steel toed boots.