I believe we have become too dependent on the government to solve all our problems. We expect government to protect our children and elderly. We expect government to oversee corporate policies to ensure employees are treated fairly and prevent companies from harming the environment. We expect the government to oversee pharmaceutical corporations to ensure the drugs they manufacture are safe for human consumption. We also expect the government to compensate us after losing a job until we find another one. All of these government obligations, and many more, are in place for justifiable reasons but what do we expect of ourselves? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be “very little”.
There have been many technological advances but unfortunately, “common sense” is no longer “common” and therefore, government must “fix” that also. One example of this is the seat belt law. The original designer of the automobile most likely never imagined the day where automobiles would be capable of traveling in excess of 100 mph or that there would be millions of drivers on the road; therefore, the need for a restraint system was not an issue. Accidents increased with the number of people driving and the seriousness of injuries incurred got worse because people were ejected from their vehicle. After seatbelts were created and installed in the 1950’s, it was evident they helped minimize injuries sustained. However, it still took the states enacting laws requiring seatbelt use to get the majority of people to utilize them. Supporters of the law believe the fines incurred will force people to wear seatbelt. However, personal accountability and common sense should cause people to willingly wear seatbelts to help prevent grave injury. Helmet laws can also be included in the same category as seatbelt laws because they were enacted in an attempt to save lives but should be something a person chooses to do without the laws requiring them to.
One of the more controversial antisocial behaviors some want the government to criminalize is a woman who continues to use drugs and alcohol while pregnant in spite of the consequences to her unborn child. Numerous studies have been published documenting the health risks involved with using drugs and alcohol. Not only do these substances harm the body of the person ingesting them, they can be potentially more harmful to a fetus that is going through a major transformation from a single cell to a living, breathing human being in 40 weeks. The controversy begins by determining exactly when a fetus is considered a person and no longer a group of cells. Some say it is a human when the sperm and egg unite, some say it is when the heartbeat is detected while some say it occurs when the fetus is capable of sustaining itself outside the womb and some believe it is not a person until it takes its first breath.
For me, this is not a matter of when the fetus is considered a human. It is a matter of a woman having a total disregard for herself and subjecting her unborn child to severe withdrawals or neurological abnormalities because of her selfishness. Is it the government’s responsibility to “force” her to take care of her body and nurture her child during its gestation? No. Can the government force a woman to undergo a sterilization process if she chooses to live what is deemed an unhealthy lifestyle to prevent the possibility of her using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy? No. Will there continue to be people pushing for legislature making the consumption of toxic substances while pregnant a crime? Yes. It is not the government’s responsibility to protect us from ourselves; it is the government’s responsibility to help protect us from others. We need to share in the responsibility and increase the public’s amount of common sense instead of increase the amount of laws.
Colb, S. F. (2010, October 13). The Criminalization of HIV Transmission: Is It Just? Retrieved January 28, 2011, from Find Law: http://writ.news.findlaw.com/colb/20101013.html
Seat Belt Usage. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2011, from Encylopedia of Everyday Law: http://www.enotes.com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/seat-belt-usage