How much power should the federal government posses? The government is responsible for creating beneficial laws for its citizens, but many times over-steps its bounds. In trying to make laws to protect health and well-being, the government takes away from its citizens freedom and rights as competent adults. The governement does have its responsibilities, such as dealing with foreign affairs, however, every time the government makes decisions for us we creep closer and closer to an Orwellian society. The government should allow its citizens to make basic decisions, and become less intrusive.
In all 50 states there are mandatory seat belt laws in effect. The federal government has decided that its citizens cannot handle making a rational decision about whether or not to wear a seat belt. Failure to wear a seat belt results in fines ranging between $10 and $100, plus court costs, and any other surcharge the local government cares to impose. 11 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have Primary Belt Use Laws. These laws enable law enforcement to stop drivers, or set up checkpoints for no other purpose than enforcing belt laws. Even though it seems United States citizens should be able to make a simple decision on whether or not to wear a safety belt, the ever intrusive federal government makes the decision for its citizens.
The government further restricts our freedoms by enforcing jaywalking fines. If one does not walk in a crosswalk specified by the government a fine is issued. The government can trust its citizens to decide to work and pay belts, yet citizens cannot be trusted to decide where to cross the street. The simple freedom of choosing where to cross a particular street is dimished.
The overbearing power of the government may best be viewed in the rights parents have been robbed of. In May of 1996, President Bill Clinton announced that he was supporting a new nationwide teen curfew policy. This policy recommended weekday curfew at 9:00 PM, with punishments of fines and court summons for parents of the offenders. This policy relinquished the rights of parents to be parents. The government has decided when a child should return home. Even if a child has parental permission to be out after curfew, he will still receive a punishment from the government. Though curfew was initiated because of safety concerns, it allows the government to impose on a parent’s child rearing abilities. Curfew should be a repsonibility of a parent, rather than that of the federal government.
A federal commission in the early 1980’s created a minimum drinking age of 21. By 1987 this law was in effect in all 50 states. Once again, the federal government has chosen to impose on a parent’s responsibility. Parents should determine when a child is mature enough for alcohol consumption. This may occur at the age of 18, or at a later time. However, the government has decided that parents are not capable of making this decision. The government also has a minimum gambling and tobbaco use age of 18. With this legislation parents are not allowed to raise their children as they see fit.