Laura McKelvie: Regulations are needed

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In his “Grass-roots pushback” column in Friday’s Steamboat Today, Rob Douglas ponders what facets of our lives are not governed by laws and regulations. I can think of vast swaths of American life that are in no danger of over regulation, including Mr. Douglas’ freedom to write columns on whatever topic he chooses.

How about the freedom to worship as you choose or the ability to leave the country or pick your own career? Does the government now dictate with whom we can date or socialize and what we can see on the Internet? Is the right to a trial by jury such a minor freedom that we don’t even appreciate it anymore? Those are some basic rights that I think Mr. Douglas takes for granted when he speaks of over regulation.

Has Mr. Douglas thoroughly thought out what a deregulated world looks like? My guess is no. For more than three years, I lived in a country with fewer regulations: Mexico. I can say from experience that although our government may be bloated, what we have in the U.S. is a blessing.

In Mexico, people are free to do a lot of things that are regulated or illegal in the U.S. The result is a citizenry that, on the whole, has little compunction to follow rules, which affects everything from driving habits to classroom attendance and from prescription drug abuse to politics.

This view is held not only by me, but also by many Mexican students who I taught. (For more information about the dangers of a lawless society that doesn’t have jury trials, read Jorge G. Castañeda’s excellent book, “Mañana Forever?”)

I felt very unsafe there and not because of drug cartels. My main fears came from daily traffic. Many states in Mexico are free to avoid those pesky regulations requiring driving tests to get a license, so most drivers are clueless concerning traffic laws. Even taking a bus is risky because the bus companies do not regulate their drivers.

My husband and I were on buses that hit cars and a bus hit a friend of mine because its driver was drunk. The bus company didn’t pay for the damages to her car, and the law offered no support. Traffic might seem like a silly concern, but as an article in The Economist pointed out, traffic accidents cause more deaths in Mexico than drug-related violence. Is this the kind of “free” society Mr. Douglas wants?

I admit that the litigious culture of the U.S. can be tedious, and I agree that not all regulations are good ones. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater and call regulations bad in and of themselves. Americans still have plenty of freedoms, and it would do us all some good to realize that not all “freedoms” are healthy.

Mr. Douglas and others often claim that they are only trying to return to the original state of liberty our founders envisioned. In response to that argument, I invite those who dislike regulations to live a few years in a large, modern country with a weak federal government. I highly doubt they would return to the U.S. with the same anti-regulation views.

Laura McKelvie

Steamboat Springs

Comments

John St Pierre 1 year, 10 months ago

“Thomas More: ...And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you--where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast--man's laws, not God's--and if you cut them down...d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.” (by the way Mr Moore lost his head to a british monarch who did not tolerate free speech)

I guess Mr Robb forgets that it is laws that give him and I and you Laura to speak our minds whenever and howver we want.....

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Rick Pighini 1 year, 10 months ago

In the united states most regulation comes from and is a direct result of accidents. Most regulation is set up to protect life and property due to such loss. This happens when the private sector fails and someone dies. Like a fire in a night club with only one exit and no sprinklers. The most profitable commercial fishery in the world is the Alaskan commercial fishery, it is also the most regulated. Their stocks are strong because they regulated it from the beginning unlike the great banks off the east coast which is dead. So if we don't want anymore regulations all it takes is for we the people both individual and corporate to always do what is best for all those we engage with regardless off personal or financial gain.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 10 months ago

If Laura's description of Mexico is accurate, someone please explain to me why the US government is pressing for 11 million of Mexico's citizens that came here illegaly to be granted citizenship in the United States?

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mark hartless 1 year, 10 months ago

When it comes to Mexico, all the things Mrs. McKelvie points to ARE ILLEGAL... driving requires a license, and driving under the influence IS illegal. Ditto for speeding and reckless driving. And here's a BIG one for all you gun-control fans: Guns are strictly forbidden in Mexico; even having a pocket knife can get you jailed.

Yet there is blood and mayhem in the streets.

Why?

Because of corruption. Mexico is very corrupt. And those same characteristics are spreading into this country.

And you know what paves the way for that corruption?

First, a dishonest and immoral populace. The kind of populace that leaves their grocery carts spread all over the parking lot instead of putting them where they know they belong ; or that lets the cashier miss an item in their shopping cart and says nothing. (both of which I witnessed here today)

Second, people who defend and excuse and ignore wrong behavior others, so long as they are pollitically aligned with them; all the while attacking good behavior in anyone who they find pollitically mis-aligned with themselves. In other words refusing to "call a spade a spade".

These two characteristics promote corruption more than anything else I can think of. Mexico is full of it and America is catching up on the fast track. Regulate all you want... it's a heart problem.

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