Thursday, June 23, 2005
Walter Williams Argues Against Seatbelt Laws
Let's start with the question: Who owns Walter E. Williams? Is it President Bush, the U.S. Congress, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or do I own myself? I'm guessing that any reasonable person would agree that I own Walter E. Williams. The fact that I own myself means that I have the right to take risks with my own life but not others'. That's why it's consistent with morality to mandate that my car have working brakes. If my car doesn't have working brakes, then I risk the lives of others, and I have no right to do so. If I choose not to wear a seatbelt, then I risk my own life, which I have every right to do.
Of course, if it's stipulated that President Bush, the Congress or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania owns me, I have no such right; I'd be risking their property. Some might rejoin by saying, "Williams, if you're not wearing a seatbelt, and don't do us the favor of dying in an accident and become an incapacitated vegetable, society will have to bear the expense of taking care of you." That's not a problem of liberty and self-ownership. It's a problem of socialism.