.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Analysis that Should Have Been…Or Was Blatantly Ignored

Perhaps it’s because of the onset of summer, and those who do the decision making know car trips are about to begin in earnest, but I seem to be encountering far more examples of the “Click-It or Ticket” campaign these days. With that in mind, and our recent focus in class, I offer an extremely abbreviated attempt at a policy analysis on this particular issue:

I recommend a policy of revoking seatbelt laws. Both the normative frameworks of liberty and efficiency reject these laws. It is only the grounds of paternalism that offer any reason to continue to allow seatbelt laws to exist. But paternalism can be safely rejected because it goes against the values expressed and allowed in the Constitution of the United States.

In terms of liberty one clearly can’t advocate seatbelt laws, because they restrict the freedom of citizens to engage in actions that hurt no one but themselves. To restrict freedom in this way goes against the very nature of the liberty ideal.

On efficiency grounds there is no identifiable market failure to be fixed in regards to wearing or not wearing seatbelts, and thus no law in either direction is advisable. The use of a seatbelt is obviously not a monopoly issue, expresses no externalities because it fails to harm or benefit anyone but the individual making the decision, and cannot be considered a public good because it is both rival and excludible.

Finally, paternalism advocates seatbelt laws. The idea here is to take a position of government knows best, and suggest that seatbelt laws are simply a case of protecting people from themselves. There is a very real and identifiable risk to driving without a seatbelt and to mandate usage is simply to ensure that people are protected from that risk.

However, this is not the role of government. Not only are seatbelt laws not among the enumerated powers, but there is also no way of knowing if the risks incurred by not wearing a seatbelt actually do outweigh the other concerns present in every single case. Only those in the vehicle are capable of knowing and deciding something like this and should be able to do so on a case by case basis.

You also may be confronted with the concern of saving taxpayer money in medical expenses incurred during car crashes where the participants were not wearing seatbelts. This is also not a good reason to advocate mandated seatbelt usage. In regards to this the old adage “seatbelts save lives” holds true. Those who are involved in car crashes without wearing seatbelts often die, and thus incur no medical expenses. Indeed it’s those who do wear seatbelts who are often generating massive medical bills. So while seatbelts save lives they do not save taxpayer money.

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?