Big brother needs to step back

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - Editorial -

Ed­i­tor:

When are our gov­ern­ments go­ing to stop try­ing to save ev­ery­body from them­selves and vi­o­lat­ing our hard­fought free­doms and lib­er­ties with in­tru­sive leg­is­la­tion un­der the guise of safety?

A few weeks ago, I read about the nanny state’s lat­est so­cial en­gi­neer­ing ini­tia­tive: Op­er­a­tion Head­way. On a per­fectly nor­mal sunny late Septem­ber day, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers were out in full force around P.E.I. hand­ing out coupons for free cof­fee and treats and is­su­ing un­nec­es­sary fines to or­di­nary folks, mainly hard­work­ing, tax-pay­ing adult cit­i­zens, whose only crime was to ride their bi­cy­cles without wear­ing pro­tec­tive head gear.

Bi­cy­cle hel­mets, like seat­belts, the ‘ex­perts’ and var­i­ous spe­cial in­ter­est groups re­peat­edly tell us, should be made manda­tory be­cause they save lives and there­fore cut down on the costs of Canada’s failed so­cial­ized health-care sys­tem.

Us­ing that logic, the almighty state should go ahead and reg­u­late all phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties as well as mon­i­tor what peo­ple eat in or­der to en­sure that tax­pay­ers never have to foot the bill for a de­ci­sion made by an in­di­vid­ual who was ex­er­cis­ing his/her free­dom to choose. Per­haps it’s time to look at al­ter­na­tives to our cur­rent med­i­cal sys­tem so that those who choose to par­take in ac­tiv­i­ties of their choice can pur­chase pri­vate in­sur­ance.

This way, it’ll be harder for gov­ern­ments to treat re­spon­si­ble adults like wards of the state. On the sub­ject of bi­cy­cle hel­mets, sure, they’re a good idea, but that doesn’t mean we should leg­is­late them. The harsh re­al­ity is, in Canada, rates of obe­sity, heart dis­ease and di­a­betes, par­tic­u­larly among chil­dren and youth, are higher than they’ve ever been. The last thing we need are gov­ern­ments, which should be fo­cus­ing on more im­por­tant is­sues, ha­rass­ing peo­ple who are ex­er­cis­ing and, in the long run, ac­tu­ally sav­ing the tax­pay­ers money.

Stud­ies from New Zealand and some Aus­tralian states have shown that manda­tory bi­cy­cle hel­met laws have only dis­cour­aged more peo­ple from tak­ing up this sport. Some ju­ris­dic­tions have even re­pealed th­ese id­i­otic laws in re­sponse to this.

The bot­tom line is we can’t pre­vent ev­ery­thing be­fore it hap­pens. To have a truly healthy and happy so­ci­ety, Big Brother has to step back and let peo­ple take risks and make their own de­ci­sions. Chris McGarry, Belfast

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