Yes, individuals probably ought to wear a seat belt while riding in an automobile to prevent injury or death. Individuals probably ought to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle or motorcycle for the same reason. However, to make individuals criminals for not doing so over steps the boundary for which government is instituted and reflects the activities of dictatorial government.
Seat belt laws, helmet laws, laws restricting the individual to what he can and cannot read, what medicines he can and cannot purchase, and how much he can save for his future are all laws that Fredric Bastiat termed, “Legal Plunder,” making criminals out of individuals who do no harm to any one, but themselves.
It is also prudent for individuals not to eat too much, not to intake too much sugar, to eat vegetables and fruits, and exercise regularly to prevent obesity, heart attack, and to maintain one’s health. Making laws regulating an individual’s intake of calories, sugar, fruits, vegetables, and requiring a minimum amount of exercise to maintain a healthy life would not only cost government more than it would be able to extract in taxes out of the hides of the very individuals it is trying to protect, but is absurd and are actions not becoming of a government whose sole purpose is to protect the individual’s right to pursue what he considers happiness.
However, there exist in this country private citizens and elected officials that believe it is incumbent upon them to make sure that all human beings are protected from themselves in order for them to have a “good” life. Seat belt laws, helmet laws, even a law restricting gay marriage, and other similar types of law may be prudent to help prevent illness or even death, but to criminalize the individual for breaking that type of law is not what a free society is all about, nor is it what America is all about.
America is about individual liberty and individual responsibility. As John Stuart Mill, in his treatise, “On Liberty,” stated, “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, his to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise.”
If American society appears to becoming more uncivilized and immoral it is because of the amount of government control being perpetrated upon the individual causing him to become more unruly and in turn causing him to become a criminal in more instances.
The essence of freedom and individual liberty is the proper limitation of government. Calling for more legal plunder will only endanger the lives of Americans who will also find themselves in a political straight jacket from which will be extremely difficult to escape.