I was thinking about something the other day concerning seat belt laws. In the past I’ve been against regulations concerning the wearing of seat belts; namely that you are required by law to do so when in fact the choice harms no one but yourself in the case of an accident, thus the requirement in itself is intrusive. The government is involving itself in something that it should not!
My notion of what libertarianism meant was one of absolutes, in that any and all government involvement was inherently wrong and, I think you run into a lot of folks who have this view, it becomes a little murky when determining what is acceptable as opposed to what is off limits. It is hypocritical of me to claim all involvement is unwarranted, though isn’t it?
In the case of seat belt laws, and road regulations in general, it is perfectly acceptable for government to regulate in any way they wish in relation to a system of roads they developed, built, and encouraged the use of for the expansion of the nation. The roads are public and government property, and so in order to maximize utility and ensure the safety of everyone, these laws become necessary as deterrents, as well as punishments, for this who would shirk their responsibility as a user of public goods to follow the rules.
Whether the government should be in the business of building and regulating roads is another matter, but one I suspect most would find to be an agreeable proposition.
So, essentially what I’m saying is, there are legitimate uses of the long arm of government; and for the most part this includes the regulation of public properties and their use.
In general, though, I’m highly suspicious of the police powers of the state. Such coercion can be dangerous when given the kind of power they regularly exercise. This is indeed an affront to liberty and something that is unlikely to be corrected anytime soon.