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Can Your Government Keep You Safe?

CHICAGO – SEPTEMBER 22: Transportation Security Administration worker Jacqueline Perkins-Brown demonstrates a new Explosives Trace Detection Document Scanner at O’Hare International Airport September 22, 2004 in Chicago, Illinois. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the deployment of new document scanners that can “sniff” passenger documents such as boarding passes and drivers’ licenses for traces of explosives. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

There have been five great inventions in the past 100 years — Automobile, Airplane, Electricity, Telephone, and radio/TV. All were invented and pioneered by private citizens and the Federal Government has commandeered all of them.

I don’t mean that statement to be interpreted in an “Orwellian 1984” conspiracy type theory. I simply mean that Uncle Sam seems to have little confidence in the American people to make safe and rational decisions.

But does Uncle Sam really have the ability and resources to keep you safe in your daily life? Let’s look at how well the people at the top have been taking care of you so far.

Automobile

For the automobile we have the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Air bags, seatbelts, speed limits, drivers license, license plates, unleaded gas, gas mileage limits, and proof of insurance all imposed on automobile manufactures and drivers by your government. Yet in spite of all this overseeing thousands still die each year on American highways. Do speed limits, airbags and seatbelts save lives? Of course they do. But is that really the end all answer?

Toyota got stuck with big bucks in fines for gas pedal problems that caused their cars to suddenly accelerate. GM is facing fines in the billions for faulty ignition switches on their cars. Manufacturers have a responsibility to make the safest cars possible because it’s in their best interest to do just that. People dying in your cars won’t exactly send customers flocking to your showrooms.

Air Travel

For air travel we have The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) No fly lists, airport security, smoke alarms in bathrooms, taking off your shoes, taking off your belt, your jackets, all to make us feel safer. I wonder how safe the passengers of Malaysian Flight 370 are feeling right now? How safe did the Malaysian government keep them?

Four planes were hijacked and crashed on September 11, 2001. All the safety precautions imposed by the Feds has zero effect on preventing that disaster.

Electricity

For electrical products we have the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Building codes, warning labels, energy saving household appliances, three pronged extension chords, and curly light bulbs all feel good ideas to keep us safe. All demanded by acts of congress. You can no longer legally manufacture 60, 75, or 100 watt incandescent light bulbs in the US.

Each year more than 30,000 people are involved in a non-fatal accidental shock from an outlet or appliance. Seven children a day (2,555 per year) are admitted to emergency rooms for electric shock or burns.

Telephone

For the telephone we have the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). I know its probably hard to believe but there is The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). Even harder to believe is that it replaced the previous Communications Act of 1934. Talk about taking quick action.

I guess I don’t have to say much more here than the National Security Administration (NSA). How much Uncle Sam listens has been the topic of news stories for months. Telephone taxes are endless and warrantless wiretaps are common.

Radio and TV

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees radio and TV. Some areas are regulated and some areas are not. For example cable is not regulated which is why you hear the F-word every ten seconds.

I, on the other hand, on free radio paid for by sponsors, regulate what I can and cannot say during various times of the broadcast day. Whatever happened to freedom of speech?

From 6AM to 6PM I have to be G-rated. From 6PM to 10PM I can border on PG, and after 10PM I can flirt with PG-13. “R” and “X” are not on the menu at any time of day.

Unless you’re on subscription radio then all bets are off. You’ll find yourself in “Opie and Anthony” and “Howard Stern” land. Anything goes. Not something to play in the car with the kiddies.

Some Final Thoughts

There’s an old saying, “If the only tool you have is a hammer; every problem begins to look like a nail.” That’s the mindset of today’s modern consumer. We’ll give up some freedom for a little more perceived security because we are afraid to do it for ourselves. But we all seem to look to government for the answers to any problem we perceive. Whatever happened to self-reliance?

We hire police and fireman to do things we would never think of doing. We keep military power at the ready to defend the nation. But our personal protection is something else. How long would it take police to respond to a call from your residence? And what would you be doing as danger approaches?

Our government closes the barn door after the horse and overreacts to every crisis. Terrorists take over an aircraft with box cutters and we ban nail clippers. Some wacko tries to light his shoes and we’re all barefoot and beltless in security. Another wacko tries liquid explosives and we have to carry 100 tiny bottles of mouthwash and shampoo in our luggage.

Are you beginning to feel over regulated?

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