Andrew Horning of the Indiana Policy Review opines in this piece that fewer regulations would make health care better.
He draws a parallel to the current trend in many European cities of eliminating traffic signs. This has apparently reduced the occurrence of traffic accidents in virtually every town it has been tried.
I think he’s on to something that could be applied to more than just health care.
Why does the elimination of traffic signs reduce accidents?
It is easy when one thinks about it. We have become dependent upon the government to tell us what to do and to punish us when we fail to do so. It has become so ingrained in our collective psyche that we automatically expect all the other people on the road to follow the rules laid down by Nanny Government as well. When they don’t we expect nanny government to protect us and punish the evildoers. It’s not OUR responsibility to look before we go through the intersection, the light was green. It’s not OUR responsibility to look out for that pedestrian in the street, there was no crosswalk. This is true in EVERY aspect of our lives.
Why do we meekly accept regulation of personal choices like whether to eat foods with trans fats or whether to smoke cigarettes? Because we’ve become so used to the idea of the Government protecting us that many now view this as the Government’s responsibility. If something is bad for us, people EXPECT the government to protect us from it. If it is allowed by the Government, it is naturally assumed that it is perfectly safe for us to engage in. As long as we follow the rules, we are safe, yes?
People have abdicated their responsibility to assess risks and make their own decisions based upon those risks. To accept the consequences of their actions when those actions result in unfortunate results. We expect the Government to prevent us from doing anything that could cause harm. We expect society to foot the bill when our actions turn out badly.
So how does this relate to the practice of eliminating traffic signs? When there are no regulations, people are FORCED to take responsibility for their own actions. They know, without a doubt, that the other guy doesn’t have a stop sign, so they’d better stop and look before blasting across the intersection. They know that there is no such thing as a pedestrian crosswalk and that the pedestrians have no mandate to cross at corners so they’d better be on the lookout for people walking across the road. When sitting at an intersection trying to figure out who is next to go, there are basically no rules of engagement so they must actually (gasp!) COMMUNICATE with other drivers through gestures, nods, etc to figure out what is going on.
I must admit up front that I don’t know if this method would be effective in the US where virtually everyone goes everywhere in an automobile. This technique would slow traffic down so much it would most likely render all urban areas completely impassable during the day. But I must admit that I like the idea of people actually having to THINK when they are wielding their 2,000lb personal weapons.
But whether the technique of deregulation of traffic would be effective in the US is not my point.
My point is that, in a free society, we are free to make choices. We are, on occasion, going to make poor decisions (some of us more often than others). When that happens, the only person who is responsible for the consequences of those poor decisions is the decision maker. That is the bottom line.
“There’s only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.”
— P.J. O’Rourke
When we abdicate responsibility for the consequences of our actions to society, we automatically grant society the power to control those actions.
“whatever power you give the State to do things FOR you carries with it the equivalent power to do things TO you.”
—Albert Jay Nock
In the perpetual search for absolute security and safety, we surrender our independence and individualism. We basically, surrender ourselves into slavery in order to be cared for. Is this the America that our forefathers envisioned? Are we the strong, independent, capable people that we used to be?
I think not. The rallying cry of the American people has transformed from “give me liberty or give me death” to “there ought to be a law”. We refuse to do the footwork necessary to inform ourselves of the risks involved in our decisions and abdicate our responsibility to do so to the government. Then, because the government can’t possibly regulate every aspect of our lives to the point where all risk is removed, when the consequences of our actions turn out badly, instead of taking responsibility for our own decisions, we wail and moan about how the government has failed us.
“Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
I’m with Andy Horning: We need to be fighting primarily for government de-regulation…of everything. Get the government out of the decision making process. It is not the government’s job to protect us from ourselves. It is not the government’s job to make our day to day decisions for us. It is OUR job to do the research, weigh the risks and make our own decisions and it is our job to accept the consequences of those decisions.
Are we slaves, depending on our master Government to care for us and feed us and keep us from harm? Or are we freemen; living life in all its glorious danger and excitement, eagerly awaiting the next challenge to be placed before us?
“Everybody dies. Die standing up!”
–From the movie “Red Dawn”
Hat tip to my best friend, Charles