Friday, June 16, 2006

GOP’s war on safety comes to Michigan

First Bush &Co. invaded Iraq - which had nothing to do with 9/11 - for no known reason, and without giving our troops needed body armor.

Then they try to let other countries own our ports.

Then they said yes to foreign ownership of our airlines.

Now, even in the wake of NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle accident, Bush’s buddy Dick DeVos says he is still okay with the ridiculous - and dangerous - idea of allowing people to ride their bikes sans helmet. Says his campaign: "People are free to do what they want to do. Dick still believes this is a choice that people should make themselves."

I too believe in freedom - freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom from government spying, etc., but Dick, as your buddy George W. once declared, “There ought to be limits to freedom.”

Why do I say this idea is dangerous? Consider these statistics reported by The Grand Rapids Press on Thursday:

Louisiana returned to mandatory helmets two years ago after seeing fatalities double over a four-year period. Florida's motorcycle deaths jumped 81 percent in the first three years after it repealed its law in 2000.

Maybe that’s why even the conservative Press warned against repealing the law:

The state House took a detour around common sense Wednesday when it approved legislation that weakens Michigan's mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists. The governor should erect a stop sign in front of this ill-conceived measure when it reaches her desk. Helmets do save lives. Making the headgear optional is the wrong route to take.

The bill passed in the House on a 66-37 vote. It lets riders age 21 and older go without helmets if they have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years or have taken a safety course. The legislation also requires riders to have $10,000 in insurance. The Senate, in its own bypass around reason, passed the legislation last year.

So what does our Governor think about all this? Says The Detroit News:

"The crash involving the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback simply echoes what the governor has said on this issue. She's concerned about safety and to date, no one had made a convincing argument why the law should be repealed," said Granholm's spokeswoman Liz Boyd. "And it's not just about individuals; there are societal costs as well."

Societal costs? Yes. Specifically, higher insurance premiums if this is repealed, warns one insurance industry executive:

"The decision to ride a motorcycle without a helmet is not a personal one - it impacts every taxpayer. Injured motorcyclists are cared for by state and local emergency responders, municipal doctors and hospitals, and - quite often - state funds for unemployment and disability compensation if their injuries are permanent. Motorcyclists do not pay insurance premiums for Michigan's unlimited personal injury protection (PIP) system, but when they're involved in an accident with an auto, they receive full benefits from that system. It is the taxpayers of Michigan who will bear the brunt of the financial costs associated with the repeal of this law and this is not the time to increase the costs of insurance for Michigan's hardworking families."

And then there's Mark Brewer, who enlightens us with his wisdom:

“DeVos’ support for repealing the helmet law is a part of his long history of being anti-safety. He often is shown in TV ads and his video blogs not wearing a seat belt and not looking at the road while he is driving. In one ad he does both; he stares into the camera without wearing a seatbelt. Is there a clearer example of reckless driving?” asked Brewer. “Posing for the camera while driving may be good for his campaign, but it is terrible for the safety of other drivers and sends a bad message to the children of Michigan.”

“Helmet laws and seat belt laws save lives and prevent injuries. An important part of being a good governor is ensuring the safety of the state’s citizens. If DeVos was governor, a nightmare scenario could occur with hundreds more Roethlisberger-like tragedies, while Michigan citizens are financially strapped because insurance rates going through the roof all because of his disregard for safety” said Brewer.

Right on, Mr. Chairman.


Blogger John B. said...

DeVos's sound bites make it all seem so simple. "Government sucks and I should be able to do anything I want."

But wait a minute. What about the rest of us who have to pay for those who make bad choices?

You are free to be an idiot as long as it affects only you.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

"Government sucks and I should be able to do anything I want."

Sounds like my attitude toward the Bush Administration regarding reproductive freedom and gay marriage.

5:58 PM  
Blogger John B. said...

That right Scott. Those right-wingers want government to be hands off on regulating the rich and corporations, but hands on about what you can do with your body.

10:34 AM  

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