Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Ramblings by a Chronic Alarmist

Clearly it is time for the state to do something. People are dying senseless deaths.

We are a caring state. We proved it by passing legislation making it illegal for smokers to light up in bars and restaurants. (That is, unless the bar or restaurant happens to be in a casino where smoke miraculously has no poisoning effects.) We proved it too with the passing of our helmet laws and seat belt laws.

We prove it with mandated warning labels on everything from window screens to canned food. We see it proudly displayed in the purchase and installation of MDOT's expensive electronic signs that remind us that it is dangerous to smash into a deer while speeding, in the fog and on sheer ice, while sending a text message and eating a burger.

We care, we care a lot.

And yet, despite all our state's best efforts, people continue to die needlessly.

As of Jan. 3, the DNR had nine reported fatalities so far this year -- up three from the same time last year.
Each and every one of these snowmobiling deaths was a tragedy and was completely avoidable. I do not make light of death but am dismissive of governments and people who feel they can dictate the safety of others.

All of this got me thinking. Why don't we outlaw snowmobiles?

I'm not certain if such records are kept, but how many additional avoidable deaths could be attributed to the transport of snow machines? If you ever drive north on a wintry Friday evening you will see dozens of snowmobile trailers on the road, every one of them weaving back and forth making it virtually impossible for the rest of us to draft like that pantywaist Jeff Gordon.

There was a day, I suppose, when snowmobiling made more sense than it does these days. That would have been in the days where villages were not accessible by road, and before the Earth began dying a slow death at the hands of carbon emitters who selfishly hit the throttle in their greedy pursuit of happiness.

In this day and age though, where the off road village is rare and where Uncle Sam seriously wants access to our home thermostats, snowmobiles should be put on the short list of things to quickly outlaw. Snowmobiles are nothing but an extravagance. They would be best displayed in museums between the steam engines and Harry Reid's wooden teeth.

There are many reasons to outlaw snowmobiles.

First, there are the deaths themselves typically numbering a couple dozen in Michigan alone during the average winter season. Every one of them tragic and avoidable.

Then we must look at all the needless fuel that is burned not only by the machines themselves, but also used in the the unnecessary travel required so the machines can be transported to virgin snow.

In addition, how much money and resources are wasted on the unnecessary development and maintenance of groomed trails? Couldn't this money be better spent on the children?

How many polar bears die in melting seas at the hand of selfish sledders who spew carbon out of their tailpipes for nothing more than selfish enjoyment? They might as well run the bears down on purpose and club them to death.

Then there is the direct environmental impact. Look where these machines have impacted places like the Pigeon River area, pristine outposts near Paradise, and areas where cougars and the reclusive Sasquatch might habitate. If a dozen tortoises are enough to stop consideration for a solar power installation in California, certainly a handful of rare (and hopefully amorous) cougars should be enough to keep the noisy mood ruining sleds out of hearing range.

One of the justifications for the requirement of helmets for motorcycle riders is that those who hurt in accidents may have their health care costs become a burden on the state. In a day and age where our Congress is contemplating national health insurance, any health care issue may become a concern of the state whether it is caused by the unnecessary use of a snowmobile or incrementally the result of an all McDonald's diet. (Which, by the way, should be outlawed too.)

When we look closely at the beliefs of our Founding Fathers, we will find that they harbored no love for democracy. They feared a powerful majority's ability to simply pigeon hole individuals into behaviors favored by the majority. This is why our Constitution was designed as such, and why we live in a Representative Republic rather than a simple democracy.

Sadly, government has forgotten, over time, that individual rights should trump blind collectivism. People today are more than willing to support the outlawing of behaviors that they themselves do not enjoy or engage in. They have no problem supporting taxes that they would not have to pay. They have no concerns with embracing legislation that impacts other people's livelihoods while it leaves theirs more or less intact. To many non snowmobilers, the snowmobile is expendable.

Necessary freedom is personal. We might not smoke or ride a snowmobile, but we can choose to smoke or ride one, and we must appreciate and protect the freedom of making that choice. Immature Americans that demand personal freedoms for themselves often do not have the grace to project it onto others. Many want to control others by preventing them from doing what they would not do themselves such as smoke in a restaurant, go helmetless on a motorcycle, eat meat, waste gasoline in a big pickup truck, wear fur, or let the jeans ride a bit low in the back. (By the way, if my Mom had her way you would all be scraping those tattoos off your arms.)

To my knowledge snowmobiles are in no danger of being widely outlawed, at least not yet. But before we become too confident in the immortality of our snow machines and in the other things that make our lives enjoyable, we should at least recognize the fact that there are some among us who would be willing to sacrifice our enjoyment of life so that they could increase the enjoyment of theirs.

Thanks for humoring me.

1 comment:

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