Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Don't Restrain Choice

Tuesday, 2/3/2009, the NH House Transportation Committee held hearings on HB383, this year's seatbelt bill. The usual tired parade of government authoritarians and Utopian socialists -- and the still-naive children indoctrinated in their schools -- presenting the usual tired litany of anecdotes and excuses to illustrate and justify why, in their minds, government-coerced "safety" should trump intended liberty. Watch the first speaker, the primary sponsor, for example: it is profoundly troubling to see the giddy excitement in their eyes at the prospect of further increasing the state's authority over our lives. Where does it end? It's amazing how many of them voluntarily proclaim themselves proud conservatives or staunch libertarians. Except without the 'principle' part, of course...

Much like the recent motorcycle bill, HB95, the hearing began by being relocated to the much larger Representatives' Hall for lack of space. But by the time I was called, we'd had to vacate the Hall due to scheduling conflicts, and repair to the Committee's traditional hearing room. Audio in the Hall was less than ideal, and I haven't re-listened to the entire hearing, so I can't promise the Hall portion is all audible. But herewith, the complete hearing. (Some of my personal favorite testimony -- ones with some real palpable indignation, ones that almost prompted me to just hand in my written testimony, rather than repeat with my own oral, are in Part 2.)

If you believe as I believe that the state has not been given the authority to control our lives, would you contact your Representatives and tell them to oppose HB383?

Part 1

Part 2

And I'm gonna start trying to seed YouTube with a teaser for longer videos that I must therefore post elsewhere. In this case, with my own testimony. A transcript, which is also being forwarded to my Representatives, follows...


I’m here today because my autonomy is yet again under siege. I’m here to speak for vanishing first principles.

Who should have authority to control our lives, the individual or the state? I contend this is hardly a trivial matter in a country founded on fragile individual liberty. Yet history and ever-expanding law books clearly show us that every successive generation is habituated to incrementally less freedom. Surely even this bill's supporters would concede that this won't be the end of their social engineering. There will always be "just one more" incursion on the fundamental concepts of individual liberty and personal responsibility -- for our own good, of course. What these supporters can't or won't grasp, however, is that "our own good" is also "our own business." It concerns me greatly that far too many -- including legislators, as we’ve already heard -- don’t fully appreciate or respect these concepts today. Nevertheless, the Founders still assure me that I need not worry about having to surrender them for myself. That is a fact. In a Constitutional Republic, rights do trump "the majority."

I'm certainly not here to argue against the efficacy of seatbelts. That is, however, an issue for education, not legislation. Not government force. All the personal stories and statistics you’ll hear today are surely heart-rending, and certainly delivering bad news is incredibly hard, but they're completely irrelevant to the fundamental fact that we each have a right to make our own choices, and yes, even our own mistakes. Even if the statistics "aren't quite what we'd like to see." That's how a free society works.

You’ve already heard the argument, basically, "But Dad, all the other states are doing it!" To me, the obvious response to this is, where in these united States, in this "land of the free," does one go, can one rely on anymore, to escape government meddling? Proudly, it has been NH. But this bill seeks to eliminate the very last refuge on this issue, the last of 50. The final extinction of seatbelt self-government. There will be nowhere left to retreat for those who would dare claim the temerity to make their own decision, whatever that might be.

Is that really necessary? Must the spirit of self determination be eliminated everywhere? Must we, also, embrace paternalism? Is there absolutely no room for limited government in even the smallest corner of this country anymore? "We are Borg?" And ominously, what similar personal decisions shall we surrender to the state next, for the good of the collective? There are, indeed, virtually infinite ripe candidates, many affecting this Committee’s own private lives, I have precious little doubt, and only "live free or die" hypocrisy needed to regulate them all.

I did not elect mommies and daddies. Despite what proponents of this bill seem to believe, I am a sentient, legal adult, not a child to be molded by the state -- please tell me right now, here for the record, if you contend otherwise. I reject government's authority to protect me from myself. I require that my government respect my decisions, and protect me from those who would, through the force of intrusive government, impose upon me their will, their view of how I should live my life, what risks I should be "allowed" to take. No. It is my choice, not my neighbors'. And significantly, it is my neighbor’s choice, not mine.

In closing, government can’t make life "safe," and laws do not stop crime. They merely define it. And this bill would thus "merely" define a whole new class of nonviolent "criminals," worthy of state aggression, who never asked for the state’s "help" in the first place. Please stop government's unauthorized and unwelcomed behavior modification experiments. Please defend vanishing first principles. Please retain our NH culture of individual liberty and personal responsibility, and reject the insidious and un-American nanny state, and only its latest onslaught in the form of HB383. Thank you.


  1. I liked this quip from Bill: "That is, however, an issue for education, not legislation."