Friday, May 1, 2009

What's in a motto?

Contributed by Auggie

I see where New Hampshire is still the only state in the nation without a mandatory seat-belt law for adults. As far as I can tell, the biggest obstacle to passing a law is the state motto which is "live free or die". Ok then. I'm not sure that wearing a seat belt falls within the spirit of the motto, but like any law, bill of rights etc., one can twist the meaning any way they want to make the point they want.

State Senator Peter Bragdon engages in a little extreme extrapolation (see earlier post Non sequiturs), when he argues "Some of the most serious accidents happen while people are walking. Should we require people to wear helmets while walking?" Again, if I had the opportunity I would return the insanity and say "So Pete, why do you have any traffic laws at all? Who has the right to tell you how fast to go or when you should stop?" And you wonder why it's called the 'Peter Principle'?

Look, I don't really know if seat belt laws make a difference or not because they are difficult to enforce. But I just find it bewildering that a state motto would influence a law making decision. Remember, the motto doesn't necessarily describe the state's culture - it was made the motto by government officials, and now it's being used by officials in their decision making process.


  1. Anonymous5/01/2009

    Having been a resident of NH for several years in the 80's and early 90's, the motto was part of that culture...I'm sure, I think, that the culture came first. They didn't necessarily make decisions because of the motto-- but the motto did seem to reflect the general mindset of the majority. It translated into no income taxes, the Union Leader editorial page, the history of state government over the years, etc. I do think its changed in recent years however (those Mass liberals have moved north...).
    I think Peter would argue that the "non seat belters" are only hurting themselves. That's not necessarily true however, when you consider uncovered healthcare costs/ taxes, etc. So Yes the "non seat belter" is living free, but who is paying if he's hurt and has no insurance? Me-- therefore not free. If I hit someone and they are injured, partially due to not wearing a seatbelt (or helmet)-- will i be held liable? The answer is yes-- and again, not free.

    I'm all for seatbelt, cellphone and helmet laws. JD...

  2. Jeff Ryer5/01/2009

    All you goobers keep wanting new laws - well here is one for you. State rep in Mass (from Cambridge, Mass where they actually have a City employee paid $75k / year with a title of Director of the Office of Peace (( and I highly doubt that person is walking the streets of Cambridge in a gang prevention role)) I kid you not) back to the Rep who is introducing a bill to make all soccer players thru high school level wear helmets. Lets have everybody wear a helmet whenever they leave the house, or how about everyone needs to wear flourescent orange clothing so they can be seen. Before you know it we will all be wearing gray pajamas and driving any kind of car you want - as long as it is electric and has an auto pilot controlled by the government.

  3. Pay attention Ryer. The blog doesn't endorse new laws, it just questions the thought process. JD makes good points about how one person's freedom can infringe upon another's. How about this approach: when a person is injured while not wearing a seat belt, and their medical coverage runs out, they get no state bailout. Pull the plug. When you make the decision to "live free or die", you need to accept it when the "die" end of the bargain rears it's ugly head.

  4. I had a personal motto back when I lived on my own. It was "No one eats at my house twice". I've never been much of a cook...see earlier post about foodies....