December 17, 2011

NTSB Seeking New Laws Against Portable Electronic Devices

The number of criminal laws in the US has exploded in the last 50 years.  We have reached a point where it is beyond the capability of the citizenry to live free in confidence that they are also obeying the law.  There are simply too many laws and good people are being ensnared and their lives trampled.  The real tragedy is that we have traded away our freedom in exchange for the false security of being ruled by a large and powerful government.
Here they go again....

The brilliant lawyers and freedom fighters in Washington (yeah right) have come up with another way to make us all safe from ourselves.  Can you guess how?  If you answered, "more laws" then you win the golden fleece award.  Not a fair question you say?  True, they didn't come up with another way to make us safe.  Piling on the laws is the ONLY way for these people - its how they bread their butter.  When all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.  Feeling a little safer and less free yet?  If not, read on it gets better.

The National Transportation Safety Board is seeking to justify their existence by seeking new laws to be made effective across the 50 states of the U.S. banning the use of portable electronic devices while driving.

"The safety recommendation specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers. The safety recommendation also urges use of the NHTSA model of high-visibility enforcement to support these bans and implementation of targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and heightened enforcement."

Ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices
Amateur radio has been used safely by hams in vehicles for decades.  A 2m rig in your vehicle certainly fits the definition of a portable electronic device and is used most of the time in non-emergency situations.  Under the definition above, hams will either have to stop using their mobile equipment or become criminals.  Enjoy operating 2m, 200Mhz, 220Mhz, or HF while mobile?  These people are targeting YOU and your portable electronic device.  Feeling less like a valued good neighbor and more like a miscreant?

High-visibility enforcement to support these bans
Can't have more laws without more enforcement right?  Enforcement will likely include being pulled over for being spotted with something in your hand.  Cup of coffee, donut, GPS, or a Blackberry all look similar at 65 miles per hour.  How about a 2m hand-held microphone in your hand?  The bar will be so low that the police won't be expected to offer any evidence of just cause.

All this enforcement and nanny state re-education will require larger budgets, more spending, increased deficits, and all at a time when the country is deep in debt.  Guess who pays?  Hint... not the brilliant lawyers and freedom fighters in Washington.  "High-visibility" equals high cost equals high taxes equals fewer jobs equals a poorer you.

What is odd is that we already have mountains of laws that were passed under the same guise of public safety.  For example, in most places it is against the law to lose control of your vehicle, crash into a tree, and die.  It is also already illegal to run over pedestrians crossing the road.  Sadly, people still do these things.  Apparently, we pass laws to make ourselves safe but then find we are not safe so we pass more laws to make ourselves safe, and on and on...  Incrementalism brings the pot to boil without disturbing the frogs bathing in the water.

Laws against stupidity
Is it illegal to be stupid?  Apparently it soon will be as Washington incrementally makes another common sense personal decision a matter of law.  Eyes down and texting in heavy traffic at 70 miles per hour is indeed a potentially life shortening decision.  Risky?  Yes.  Foolish?  Yes.  Could earn you an entry into the Darwin Award competition?  Yes.  Do we need laws to protect ourselves from ourselves?  No.

It is the role of our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, and everyone else dependent on us to help us be accountable and take personal responsibility for our decisions.  If someone chooses to put their children's lives at risk by texting while their kids are in the back seat then yet-another-law will be of no consequence to them.  However, that same law diminishes our general freedom and promotes a culture where personal responsibility is seen as passe.  Frivolous laws also dilute respect for the law.

Call your congressman and respectfully ask them to preserve freedom, reduce the size of government, don't touch mobile amateur radio, and don't let the NTSB legislate away personal responsibility.