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The Seatbelt Law
A paternalistic law is an interference with a person s liberty for that person s own good. An example of a paternalistic law is the law that says: all people must were seatbelts when riding in the front seat of a car. According to John Stuart Mill in his essay On Liberty a problem occurs when the government enforces paternalism. This form of paternalism is called legal paternalism. If legal paternalism is present in a society then that society might end up with a controlling majority so that the majority will impose their will on everyone. Mill would not agree with the seatbelt law because when the law is broken no one is harmed, and even if the seatbelt is necessary it can only help the person who can potentially break the law by not wearing it. I do not agree with the law I do not want my freedom taken away from me by anyone, and especially not the government.
The law, which says that all people who sit in the front a car must wear a seat belt, is an example of a paternalistic law. This law is paternalistic because it is making people do something, and interfering with people s liberty. The government is looking out for people when it makes them wear a seatbelt, and the government is protecting its people. Wearing a seat belt protects people from killing themselves, not killing others. People wear seatbelts for their own good, but when the government makes people wear seatbelts it interferes with the people s liberty. Wearing a seatbelt only effects the person who is wearing it, so when the government made the law it was only looking out for that one person. Usually when the government enforces a law it does it because the law will help more than just the person in which they enforce the law upon. In this case that is not true. The government is interfering in the lives of many people by making them wear a seat belt. Intervention is not necessary because if someone does not want to wear a seatbelt then they can only hurt themselves.
Many people would say that the seatbelt law is morally unjustified. J.S. Mill uses the Principle of Liberty to form his opinion: The only purpose for which power can be exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. In the case of the seat belt law Mill would not agree with it because it does not prevent harm to others, but it does prevent harm to the person who wears the seatbelt. The problem with controlling whether a person wears a seatbelt or not is that it negates that person from the freedom to unite over one s self over his own body and mind. Another liberty that Mill would say was violated would be the liberty of tastes and pursuits and that is: the framing plan of our life to suit ourselves as long as we do not harm other. In this case a person can wear a seatbelt if he/she wants to because it suit his/her self, and does not harm others. The idea that Mill would suggest to do in order to get people to wear his/her seat belt would be to educate and persuade the people. Society is only worse with these paternalistic laws because when the government in taking away a person s liberty it is taking away from total human happiness and social progress.
I do not agree with the law that forces people to wear seat belts while riding in the front seat of a car. The government makes laws to protect people from other people, and anything more than that takes away from our freedom. This law only protects the person who wears the seatbelt, and if they do not obey the law then no one is hurt except himself or herself. Wearing a seatbelt is a good thing to do, but there should not be a law for it. People can make their own decisions, and some people in making these decisions put themselves in danger. It is not the governments place to protect everyone who puts him or herself in danger, but it is their place to stop people from putting others in danger. Instead of using money to take away from our freedom by enforcing the seatbelt law the government should use the money to educate people about the subject. The government should use money to warn people that not wearing a seatbelt is dangerous and sometimes lethal. I am sure that if more people acted on my opinion concerning the government s use of its money in a better way rather than enforcing the seatbelt law then our society would be much happier. Instead of using money to take away from our freedom by enforcing the seatbelt law the government should use the money to educate us about the subject and why we should wear one. Many people do not even know why they cannot do some things and this causes them to do them. In most cases if a person knew why and the effects of their actions then they would not do them. If more education were available about laws and why they are enforced then more people would start to understand the government and why it does what it does. After an understanding is made between the people and government less crime will be present in every aspect of our society. Once educated about the effects of wearing a seatbelt many people will form their own opinion on whether they want to wear one or not.
I am sure that many Americans agree with the seatbelt law or else it would not be a law. An objection to the seatbelt law would be one that says: the government is only looking out for its people when it makes laws such as the seatbelt law. No harm can come out of wearing a seatbelt, but harm can come to one person if he/she does not wear one, so in order to look out for its people s safety the government made the seatbelt law. A person who agreed with this law would ask a person who opposes it if he or she minds that the government is trying to help them out and keep them alive. The person who opposes the law would probably say that they do not mind. If most of the people in our society do not mind if the government is trying to save our lives, then why not make a law to help the people save their own? When it is law people tend to remember it, and in the case of the seatbelt law the people are only remembering to protect themselves. An answer to this objection would be that it is not the government s place to make decisions for people as far as safety goes. Some people enjoy danger, and others just are not comfortable with a seatbelt and have enough confidence in themselves that they will drive carefully. People make choices concerning their own safety everyday. The government should not step in unless one person is harming another, and wearing a seatbelt is not protecting anyone from doing anyone to another person, just protecting the person who is breaking the law by not wearing one.
A paternalistic law is an interference with a person s liberty for that person s own good. An example of a paternalistic law is the law that says: all people must were seatbelts when riding in the front seat of a car. Mill would not agree with the seatbelt law because when the law is broken no one is harmed, and even is the seatbelt is necessary it can only help the person who can potentially break the law by not wearing it. I do not agree with the law I do not want my freedom taken from me by anyone let alone the government. With this law I think that the government is not only wasting money by getting in people s business, but they are imposing on people s liberty, and something needs to be done for us to get our freedom back.