Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cell phone ban is lazy legislation

CBC Story: MLAs debate reach of cellphone ban on P.E.I.

The government that governs least governs best. There is no demonstrable need for such a ban. Those that make mistakes while driving, due to inattention, carelessness, or malice, already have a legal infrastructure to deal with them. There are civil property rights and the Highway Traffic Act.

This is similar to the argument against the need for hate crime legislation. It is not the states job to micro-manage what goes on in our heads or our cars. The state has a role to play regulating gross interactions, trying to create an environment where mutually profitable interactions can take place. The more mutually profitable interactions that are able to take place without state interference the more free and prosperous that society will be.

There are those that can talk on a cell phone and drive at the same time. Should these people be disallowed to do so even while there is an infrastructure for those that try to do so unsuccessfully. If there were an accident tomorrow because of the use of cell phones I would say the same thing.

So long as the existing infrastructure handles those cases effectively there is no need for such a cell ban. If the civil property rights and Highway Traffic Act did not deal with these cases effectively then they should be revised abstractly. Once these existing laws where adequately revised to deal with cell phones effectively they would also be equipped to handle any other distractions that may come in the future. To legislate specifically about cell phone use is a lazy cop out.

Yes, such an argument as this can be used to attack drunk driving laws. And there may be validity to such an attack. But notice that if legal drunk driving is preposterous and phone driving isn't, then they are different problems that can have different solutions.

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