30 July 2008

Legislating Common Sense

From Hot Air:

The latest in nanny-state pioneering comes from Illinois — no surprise — as Democratic state legislator Ken Dunkin has introduced a bill that would make texting while crossing the street a misdemeanor. Why? Dunkin explains that government exists to protect citizens from ... themselves.

The host in the video embed in the blog post is a bit... testy for my taste, I think, but seriously... are tickets and fines really necessary for something like this? Does the government really have a compelling interest here?

... Actually, it might. If we had universal health care. If all health care costs are covered by the government, then I figure that would effectively give the government carte blanche to legislate any and all details of people's lives that might affect health care costs. Smoking? Completely illegal. Alcohol? Rationed, maybe restricted, maybe banned. Highway speed limits? Reduced to 55 mph and laser-/radar-enforced every mile or two. Mandated exercise and fitness regimens. Tightly controlled dietary restrictions. Infeasible? Extreme? Well, probably... but taxes could easily be raised on anybody not toeing the line. It brings to mind the Swiss ski resort that's implemented speed limits on its slopes.

The Illinois state legislator in the video in the Hot Air blog post says at one point, "You can't legislate common sense." Be that as it may, I suspect that there are those who would be willing to give it their best shot, given sufficient leverage and leeway.