Chicago has a well-earned reputation for cultivating busybody politicians. One of the busybodiest current aldermen is Ed Burke (14th ward), who has proposed a mandatory helmet law for motorcycles.
Now, while I think wearing a helmet while driving a motorized small vehicle in traffic with other, larger vehicles is the epitome of common sense, I cannot support the paternalistic drive behind mandatory helmet laws (or seat belt laws, for that matter). Nor am I persuaded by the “we pay through hospital costs” argument. Why impose another distortionary regulation to counter the ill effects of our convoluted means of paying for health care? To my eye, not wearing a helmet should leave you on the hook for you medical costs from an accident, and you shouldn’t be able to foist that cost off on others because of a no-fault insurance law.
But it gets worse … our mayor, Richard Daley (who himself possess notable busybody tendencies) would like to extend the helmet law recommendation to bikes and rollerblades!
Where does this belief that they know what’s best for others come from? Why do we indulge it?