Scott Lehigh has a column today detailing the latest effort to force Massachusetts drivers to wear their seat belts.
Scott lays out the most obvious and compelling reasons why this is such a stupid idea, but I feel like piling on. Seat belts laws are paternalism at its worst, and the government has no right to tell me or anyone else how to live. If I decide, stupidly, not to wear a seat belt,I harm only myself.
He also notes that the state is already has the lowest driving-related fatality rate in the country, so the argument that we'll all be safer seems a bit hollow.
Beyond the column, though, there are other things to think about. Making seat belt violations a primary offense gives the police carte blanche to pull anyone over, for whatever reason. There's that small number of cops who will take advantage of that and profile minorities, even if the Globe pooh-poohs the idea in an editorial.
For the vast majority of cops who work hard and care about their jobs, this is just another headache that adds meaningless work to their schedule. Most cops have better things to do than tut-tut drivers who forgot or are unwilling to buckle up.
I almost always wear my seat belt, because it's stupid not to. I hector passengers to wear their belts as well. But if someone says no, that's the end of it, because it's none of my damn business what other people do. It's not the government's business, either. And that goes for seat belts, smoking dope, killing yourself, or whatever else you do that doesn't directly harm anyone else. Just because something is smart and good doesn't mean the government has to step in and require it. I'm no libertarian, but I don't think you need to be one to understand the point.