A Penchant for Controlling Others
[Editor’s Note: In this 2009 article, Lew Rockwell lists the problems with government mandates on private use of mobile phones. Observant readers will note the “public safety” arguments against the freedom to use phones as we choose are essentially the same as current claims that “public health” is a justification for dictating daily habits and behavior. ]
We all want freedom for ourselves, but many people have doubts about the way others might use their own freedom. Under these conditions, the state is there to help. Get enough people to favor enough restriction, and the state is good to go, administering every aspect life from its smallest to its largest detail.
Every day presents more cases, but the most recent case is stunning. It turns out that 97% of people polled support a universal ban on texting while driving. Half of those surveyed say that the penalty should be as severe as that for drunk driving. Among these, how many do you suppose do text and drive but don’t want to admit it to the pollster? Probably plenty. And yet I couldn’t find a single online defense of the practice anywhere on the web.
The truth is that it is not necessarily unsafe to text behind the wheel. It all depends on the situation. If you are in a traffic jam, and are late to an appointment, the ability to text can be a lifesaver. Or if there are no cars around, you might be able to risk it. On the other hand, it would probably be a mistake to attempt this doing 80 mph around slower traffic on a freeway.
How can we know the difference between when it is safe and when it is not? The principle applied on American roads is that the driver himself makes that decision. If this principle didn’t make sense, there would be no way that the roads themselves could work at all.
Think of this the next time you are in a big city zooming around curves and between lanes along with thousands of others, doing top speeds. Here we have 4,000-pound hunks of ste
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