HB1622, "relative to the use of passenger restraints in motor vehicles", before the NH House Transportation Committee, 2/5/2020.
Yesterday, up against HB1621, the 'helmet' bill (so I couldn't even get over there to sign in against it), Senate Transportation heard their 'mandatory seatbelts' version, SB609 (and there was also a third that was mercifully withdrawn; there is clearly absolutely no shortage, sadly, of unbidden arrogant nannies in NH's legislature this year.).
We've been here before, too, of course, but much more recently. And before that, there was the Year of the Bribes in 2009 -- that's the "grant" repeatedly discussed, which wasn't sufficient to sell out our autonomy back then.
I had provided both Transportation Committees with a transcript of the testimony that I delivered most recently on 2018's HB1259. Honestly, I didn't even need to testify, because all the arguments are addressed in the transcript -- as I assured the Committee Chair before the hearing that they would be. I include that here, below the hearing video.
My name is Bill Alleman, and I’m here today because my autonomy is yet again under siege. Certainly this applies to so many relentless attempts to impose overreaching legislation on ostensibly free individuals, but I'm just applying it to this one today. I encourage the further extrapolation to others as an exercise for the Committee. 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.”
As an aside, you’ve heard that seatbelts can actually cause harm. I would submit that if you pass a force-backed mandatory law that you know may cause harm – whatever the percentage – you are responsible for that harm. And to borrow a well-worn concept, one death because of legislation is one too many. “Edge cases” make bad law.
I'm not here to argue against the efficacy of seatbelts, however. That’s 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 these aspects are 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’ll hear the argument, basically, "But Dad, all the other states are doing it!" To me, the obvious response 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 NH, 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 representatives to sell out my liberty for the return of a few pieces of my own silver. I also did not elect domineering mommies and daddies. The growing micromanagement of my life must stop. Despite what proponents of this bill seem to believe, I am a sapient, 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 do not consent. I reject government's authority to presume to protect me from myself. I require that my government respect my decisions, and instead 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. Kindly retain our NH culture of individual liberty and personal responsibility, and reject the insidious, insatiable, and un-American nanny state, and only its latest onslaught in the form of HB1259. Thank you.