Against Liberty

Steve Russell
5 min readMay 16, 2019

Everything is not a matter of opinion and all opinions are not equal. In the US, we frame all policy arguments in terms of liberty, and since we don’t teach critical thought, who wins the framing dispute wins the argument.

Public Domain photo courtesy National Park Service

My 85-year-old mother in law had her life saved by the excesses of the nanny state that made an elderly woman pay more for a car with a bunch of air bags. You can’t think of air bags at my age without thinking of how seat belts destroyed liberty.

First, they were optional, at the princely cost of five bucks.

Then they were mandatory and the cost of a new car went up accordingly.

Then, all of a sudden, there were jackbooted thugs on every street corner giving out tickets to people who failed to buckle them. A case went all the way to the Supreme Court from a suburb of Austin where the issue was whether a citizen of this free nation could be taken into custody for failure to buckle up. The answer was yes.

One of those jackbooted thugs, a friend of mine, was rushing to an armed robbery in progress call when he was t-boned by another police officer making the same call at high speed. It took most of a day to find the severed rear end of his unit, which had flown into the air and come down between two buildings. That part of the car contained the seat belt anchors. Had he been belted in, he would have been cut in half.

Therefore, the laws requiring buckled seat belts are an unwarranted infringement on liberty, right?

Some motorcycle helmets obstruct peripheral vision and all of them obstruct your sacred right to feel the wind in your hair at highway speeds, right? Therefore, helmet laws are bad policy, at least as applied to rich people who can afford to be maintained in a persistent vegetative state.

Obamacare was a terrible infringement on individual liberty because it required healthy people to buy health insurance. You have a right to play the odds that you won’t get sick and bringing down the cost for the other people in the pool is not your problem as a free individual, free to head for the emergency room and get your cancer diagnosed too late for treatment.

Then there are the death panels. Unless you believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and unlimited health care…

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Steve Russell

Enrolled Cherokee, 9th grade dropout, retired judge, associate professor emeritus, and (so far) cancer survivor. Memoir: Lighting the Fire (Miniver Press 2020)