There are 2055 potential charges under South Africa's traffic legislation. This is no joke. It means that almost everyone, at some stage, will break the law – usually without even knowing it.
Granted, many of the regulations are justified, despite the mind-numbing complexity of the law. They are designed not only to ensure orderly traffic flow, but also to ensure the safety of other road users.
Some, however, have nothing to do with the safety of others. Take seat belts. What business does the government have to force people to wear them, and to punish them when they do not?
The law exists to protect your life, limb and property from unjust infringement by others. It does not exist to tell you how to live your life. If you want to drive without a seat belt, you should be perfectly free to do so.
Of course, it would be sensible to wear a seat belt anyway. Anecdotal stories about people injured or killed by their seat belt do not wash. Statistically, if you wear your seat belt in an accident you will have a significantly better chance of survival, and considerably less serious injuries when you do survive.
But that's not the government's business. If you don't wear a seat belt, the only person you're likely to harm is yourself. You're not putting anyone else's life, limb or property at risk. It's your problem.
An argument could be made for a law that requires children to be buckled up, because they are unable to make informed choices for themselves. In this case, the government is acting to protect them from their parents' stupidity or carelessness. Fair enough. But once you're old enough to drive, you're old enough to make your own decisions about your own safety.
A similar argument goes for motorcycle helmets. If you want to be an idiot and ride without one, be my guest. Just don't come crying to me if you come off your bike and smash your skull. Doing so does not harm me, nor anyone else. Your risk-taking is your problem.
So why does the government intrude so on our private decisions about our own lives and safety?
The only plausible reason is that you're likely to cost the state – and consequently your fellow taxpayers – more if you're more seriously injured because of your own stupidity. The cost of emergency services are not the problem. That cost is incurred anyway. It's the subsequent medical bills that the government has a problem with. The additional treatment that you'll need will cost more, and it will at least in part be subsidised by the state.
The solution to this problem is not to compel you to live your life with minimum risk. It is to abolish socialised healthcare.
But doesn't the same argument go for private healthcare and private insurance?
It does indeed, but with one major difference. Your insurance company might require you to take certain safety precautions, in the same way insurance companies mandate vehicle tracking systems and burglar alarms, and some health insurance plans do not cover injuries sustained during dangerous activities such as skydiving or hang gliding, unless you pay a higher premium.
In the private sector, you can choose not to insure with companies that set requirements you are not willing to meet. You can choose to pay higher premiums. You can agree to exclusions if you are found not to comply with the insurance policy's rules. The choice is yours.
What about back seat passengers? Frankly, it is up to the front seat passengers in a vehicle to require them to wear their seat belts. After all, they are the ones at risk of head and neck injuries as a result of the negligence of the back seat passengers who refuse to buckle up. If the driver is okay ferrying passengers in an unsafe manner, that surely is the driver's problem? They have a choice.
The problem with socialised healthcare is that you do not have the choice. You cannot opt out. It only works if it is mandatory, and if the rules of the state monopoly on healthcare or health insurance can dictate your every decision which might affect your health in a way that becomes a burden to the state.
The logical consequence is creeping fascism. Today, you're forced to wear seat belts. Tomorrow, the government might decide that you're required to maintain a healthy bodyweight or a certain level of fitness, because your unhealthy lifestyle affects other taxpayers. The day after, it might ban drinking, or fatty foods. Next week, it could issue regulations about mandatory safety equipment to be used or worn around the house or garden. The week after, it could ban a wide range of leisure activities that are not necessary and involve some risk.
All of these would be justified in exactly the same manner as seat belt and motorcycle helmet laws, and all of these would be perfectly reasonable under a regime that provides socialist healthcare.
That's the risk of agreeing even to limited forms of socialised welfare. It gives the government justification to intrude deep into your private life, and impose rules for what risks you may and may not take.
It's hard enough for the average citizen to comply with the thousands of laws and regulations they are presumed to know and follow. Opening the way for a nanny state, with all the petty fascism that it entails, will make life far more miserable. Eventually, we'll all be criminals, and the government's power over us will be absolute.
Fascism starts with seat belts. DM
- Fracking: Debating a big deal
- Who needs the Queen’s English?
- Electric cars: Taking from the poor to give to the rich
- Business Licensing Bill: An indefensible defence
- Red-tape tourism
- The Big Business Bribery Bill
- On Thatcher and society, Vavi and the market
- Extinction: Let’s make up numbers and panic!
- Feeding the world is getting easier
- Stop talking shit: Build your own toilet
- Climate change is pseudo-science
- Anti-competitive competition law
- The Department of Less Government
- An open letter to President Zuma
- In defence of Kim Kardashian
- The world’s weirdest wildlife sanctuary
- Boycott calls are simple-minded
- In defence of vegans
- The population explosion implodes
- Environmental backpedalling picks up pace
- How Mangaung can help and hinder entrepreneurs
- The elusive libertarian enclave
- The Gathering: Ivo Vegter
- The hidden overemployment crisis
- The case for constructive environmentalism
- Privatise the Western Cape's shacks
- Tenders: Not open to employees or their families
- Hurricanes fuel climate sensationalism
- Next: Gross-out warnings on food
- No new deal: The failure of Zumanomics
- Benoni has a bright idea
- Was I wrong about acid rain?
- Public food gardens: Where dumb ideas thrive
- Rethinking the costly food label madness
- Give hunting a chance
- Fracking gets green light, but here's the risk
- Socialists, bless 'em, visit Cape Town
- Buy a 1Time ticket now
- Give the ANC credit where credit is due
- The myth of the competent apartheid government
- It's a disaster that 'peak oil' is not a disaster
- No Gravy: a label for sustainable business
- This lightbulb's going to blow
- Smokers? Get 'em up against the wall!
- Inflating the obesity scare
- Bring a Shotgun to School Day
- GMOs: Hacking genes to feed the world
- The hidden dangers of charity
- Fracking: the unread paper debated
- Fracking: The “U-turn” paper nobody has read
- Eco-cronyism is as dangerous as any other
- SKA: Be grateful Karoo residents didn't object
- Energy: Get cracking on fracking
- Fair trade, unfair trade-off
- Casual labour is only bad for Vavi's unions
- 'Externalities', the catch-all justification for regulation
- 'Externalities', the catch-all justification for regulation
- How do we fix our dismal education?
- Barter: the rebirth of sound money
- Rights are not entitlements
- Debunking 'limits to growth' inanities
- Tax: Why align with "most other countries"?
- Newspaper sensationalism doesn't help rhinos
- Rolling Stone reprises Gasland's fracking fantasies
- Cosatu's manipulative march move
- Why do 16 million people not constitute an economy?
- The age of smear politics
- Does fracking cause earthquakes?
- The Chinese model is morbidly obese
- Green tech: doubling down on a losing bet
- Rape, pornography, and hell's grannies
- Petrol taxes won't hurt the poor
- Jailtime mooted for bad weather warnings
- Let's ban bans, and start with CITES
- In defence of overpaid sport stars
- On the death of Kim Jong-Il
- COP17: Let's ban fire
- Cancer gets you when nothing else can
- COP17: The 'party on' agenda
- COP17: The Blue Line of Death
- New seven natural inanities
- Occupiers' anger is all that makes sense
- The Luddites and Technocrats live on
- Malema marches for economic slavery
- Profitable purveyors of pudendal prettiness
- Sense? Us?
- If they want rhino horn, let's sell them some
- "Stimulate" economy by ending telco abuses
- Executive pay makes nobody poorer
- Malema's real persecution
- Mogoeng: Lock up your daughters
- Don't mandate insurance, deregulate healthcare
- I sympathise with Malema's persecution complex
- Short selling: panicked pols ban proof of failure
- Don't blame those who saw it coming
- What's obscene about profit?
- In defence of Bombela
- Dear president Zuma, you are not above the law
- The economics of love
- Treasure the Karoo? Ban the SKA!
- Malema is right, you know
- Gautrain's PPP: political patronage profiteering
- Kumi Naidoo is no hero
- LeadSA fails to lead when it matters
- No logo means carte blanche
- The drug war: dopey but dangerous
- A response to fracking critics
- Don't vote. It's your right.
- Welcome Walmart
- If you're happy and you know it clap your hands
- Buy local, support poverty
- Ubuntu, the free-market way
- Karoo fracking scandal exposed!
- I'm ashamed for my profession
- The bill of bunkum
- Being gay: a brand new concept!
- Who's afraid of the nuclear wolf?
- The nationalisation canard
- Ogilvy should grow a spine
- The new robber barons
- A classy revolution: Why we cared
- Bombastic Bombela balks
- Liberty is more than mere democracy
- Gautrain has a law unto itself
- The irony of 'services for all'
- How to hire a hitman in SA
- Arrive alive and neurotic
- The oppression of taxis
- Protection of Information Bill and why WikiLeaks is so dangerous
- Fifa, Russia and Qatar deserve each other
- One day, we'll all hate WikiLeaks
- The cycling mafia strikes again
- What Julius got for Christmas
- Let's return the beads
- Away with fascist seat belt laws
- Tintin Mbeki in the Sudan
- How the ANC can make everyone happy
- Currency: the race to the bottom.
- Hurrah for national healthcare!
- Give Zimbabweans citizenship
- Carte Blanche has no carte blanche
- That finger-licking, lip-smacking taste
- Bomb the barbaric lot already
- Green tax: another raid is coming
- Do strikers deserve anything?
- The media will lose this battle
- Global warmism needs a fisking
- A glass half-full
- Go ahead, have a baby
- Stop the handouts - end xenophobia
- The right to fire
- FIFA's heart of darkness
- Have some self-respect
- I ordered an orange skirt
- Secretly, Match blames South Africa
- The stupendous Gautrain: a rare marvel!
- The Fifa conquistadors are coming!
- What's wrong with everyone?
- Leave poor BP alone
- The destructive power of government
- The bonsai economy
- The darkness of Africa
- Who is ripping off whom?
- Anatomy of a whitewash
- While FIFA takes over, we fight
- The pointless pretence of Earth Hour
- Ten reasons to reject climate alarmism
- Really, boycott the FIFA farce
- The climate dominoes fall
- Lessons in ethics from Dick Cheney
- Screw the consumer
- In defence of bankers
- Break the banking cartel
- Julius Malema, the walking contradiction
- Boycott FIFA
- Climate clarity
- In defence of Boney M
- Pray Copenhagen fails
- Capitalism is not unkind
- Climate fraud kills people
- Pop goes the hot air balloon
- Peace, love and schadenfreude
- The irony of the left
- Too late to cool it?
- Going cold turkey