When I read the Senate has begun to pursue changes to driving privileges I figured I probably wouldn’t approve of the rest of the article. What I didn’t expect was on how many levels and for how many reasons it irritates me.
First and foremost, our great-grandchildren are in debt up to their eyeballs and yet Congress is trying to control what privileges states grant? Really? The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in how many years, yet they have time to delve into something so mundane? Perhaps Congress should start trying to figure out how to reduce entitlements and stop encroaching on our liberties, before they even begin to consider more ways to control our lives. But, I know that’s never going to happen, so at the very least can Congress start by submitting a budget and then perhaps look at ways to reduce our deficit? They could start with repealing Obamacare which will cost considerably more than it was originally claimed.
My next issue is that of Federalism. The 10th Amendment leaves much power to the states and even more power to the people. While technically this is not overstepping the bounds laid out in the 10th Amendment, it is an attempt to control and manipulate the states. In this instance the federal government isn’t coming in and dictating a specific law to the states, but it is using a powerful incentive to force its way. I believe it was wrong when the Reagan Administration did it with the drinking age (ridiculously high IMHO) and I think it is wrong in this case. While a case may be made for the drinking age using empirical evidence which would apply to all young adults the same isn’t necessarily true in this case.
The bill is being pushed by a New York Senator. A person learning to drive in New York is very different than a person learning to drive in rural Kansas or Missouri. As a 9 or 10 year old I was driving my dad’s truck short distance as we burned leaves. By 11 I was driving a dirt bike, unattended through the woods. By 14 I could back a trailer and drive a Bobcat. By 16 I was plowing snow and blading roads on a tractor. I have friends that were running balers or combines by their early teens. Friends in Kansas drove to school at 15. My point is that teens in rural areas grow up driving heavy machinery. Many in Texas drive long distances to school. Those of us from rural areas have to drive into town and by town I mean 1,200 people. Learning to drive in these areas is much different than learning to drive in Denver, LA, NYC, DC. Not only is there less traffic and a lower risk due to smaller towns, but many of us learn the danger of speed and machines early. Farming, ranching and hilly back roads are dangerous. Hill topping kills, as does excessive speed.
I’m not saying that teenagers are completely mature or that they won’t make mistakes, but this shouldn’t be dictated at the Federal level. States like Texas, South Dakota and Kansas have all seen the needs of modifying driving privileges from the “standard.” Senators and Congressmen from states like NY and CA have no business dictating these things to states. Furthermore, what responsibility do parents have in all this? Is it really the Federal Government’s job to “protect” our kids from themselves? Shouldn’t parents take responsibility? They can limit when their children drive, they can prohibit them getting a car/license. They could even lock down phones or prevent them from taking passengers. My parents made me drive a Ford Ranger when I turned 16, that way I’d never be able to take more than 2 other people. I was forbidden to drive into town (Springfield, MO) for the first month. My point is that I don’t need some Senator telling me how to raise my kids. (Or for that matter what to eat, drive, wear or say) At some point people have to take responsibility for their own actions.
Finally, just like seat belt laws this is being pushed by insurance companies. I think the government has no right telling me I have to buckle up or wear a motorcycle helmet. Is it a good idea? Of course it is. Should the government tell me I have to? No. This is no different. People need to take responsibility for their actions and the actions of those they are charged to protect. Increasing the hardships to rural families by taking away farm/school permits is pointless. It is not the federal government’s job and they should stay out states’ business.
On a final side note, this would probably not be an issue at all if state legislatures still appointed Senators, as the Framers originally intended. Just saying…