"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, December 17, 2004

What Overcomes a Right?

Hunter's point that those who build the roads have the right to set the rules for their use has some resonance, but I cannot agree that building roads gives the government open-ended regulatory power over everything that happens on them. In particular, I should simply point out again that regardless of who paid for the roads, U.S. citizens have a right to be free of unjustified searches and seizures by their government, wherever they happen to be. A citizen has a right to enter a government building, for example, and if he is not making a disturbance and is not in a place restricted to authorized personnel, the government has no right to detain or otherwise search him, regardless of how much wine he had with his dinner. Just so for the roads.

Hunter argues that the government's confiscation of property and subsequent building and maintenance of roads overcomes this right, but it appears to me that the only one who can overcome a right is he who gave it. And if that Particular Source has spoken on the matter of drinking and driving, I have not yet heard it.


Greg said...

Here's the irony in this entire debate: A woman who drinks chronically during pregnancy is a far greater cost to society than any person who chronically drinks and drives.

The stats from a few years ago showed that for every person killed in a drunk driving accident in the U.S., about two people were born with permanent brain injuries due to alcohol in the fetus. However, that stat is only the tip of the iceberg.

This condition, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental
disorder (ARND), is of incalculable cost to society. For starters, what would have very likely been a normal, healthy human being, instead suffers an all-out assault on his or her brain while in the womb. Once born, the baby's development is horrendously delayed and learning problems are soon to follow. Not only does the child tend to fall hopelessly behind in school, but often these children have extreme difficulty distinguishing between right and wrong behaviors. Sadly, they tend to struggle with holding down a job and are often in trouble with the law: theft, fraud, rape, murder, etc. For the prognosis of children with ARND, one saying that I've heard is, "The girls get knocked up and the boys get locked up."

Prisons, brothels, and sad news stories are filled with people who have ARND. Some people have been in and out of prison three times before they're even told by a doctor that they have ARND.

And guess what condition a surprisingly high percentage of drunk drivers have?


You know, a stronger case could be made to outlaw being drunk while pregnant than driving while drunk.

I'm not going to comment on what the alcohol laws should be because I would need to research the topic further. However, for Sean Gabb's well-researched argument, he might want to add the ARND statistics to his arsenal. If people want to lower drunk driving accidents (and other outrages against society), then taking a hard look at mothers who refuse or are unable to stop drinking while pregnant should be a much higher priority than it is at present.

Greg said...

Side note: When I say "ARND," I'm also including people who have FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome). FAS is when both your physical features and your brain have been damaged by fetal alcohol. ARND is when it's only the brain. In many ways, ARND is far worse because it's not as easy for other people to see what the problem is. In my previous post, I probably should have used FAS/ARND wherever I used ARND. Sorry.

S. T. Karnick said...

Fascinating and useful observations, indeed, Greg. Many thanks for contributing them.—STK