I see a new trend. Maybe it’s not new, maybe I’ve just started noticing it. And it kind of irks me. I tend to be a rule follower, for the most part. (OK, let me be honest. I follow rules that make sense to me. Which most rules do. But there are those stupid rules; they are exempt from being followed because they are stupid.) But, generally, I follow the rules. I pay for things I want to have, I buy health insurance for my family, I wear my seatbelt, you get the idea. Most of the people I know follow rules. Not all of the people mind you, but most. They have car insurance, they pay taxes, all that good stuff.
But apparently, there is a whole group of people out there who don’t follow the rules. They steal the things they want, they take advantage of those around them and prey on the empathy of others. Sometimes there are consequences for their actions, but often there are not. When you lose your license for drunk driving (driving drunk is breaking the rules), you are not supposed to drive. But if you lose your license for driving drunk, you aren’t a rule follower to begin with. So what’s really stopping you from driving? Follow me? So if you are driving on a suspended license, I’m guessing you didn’t go out and purchase car insurance for yourself. I could be wrong, but I’m thinking probably not. So, in order to protect myself, the legally licensed driver, from the driver with the suspended license who doesn’t have insurance, I will go buy uninsured motorist coverage. It’s the rule follower thing to do.
Society has caught on to the fact that rule breakers don’t follow rules. I know, deep huh? Uninsured motorist insurance was created to address the gap so rule followers could protect themselves from rule breakers who don’t have insurance. And it works. I can sleep at night, and more importantly drive during the day, knowing that if a drunk without insurance runs a red light and hits me I at least have insurance to cover the damages (assuming I survive!). I can live with that – it’s a free country and I choose to spend the extra few dollars for the peace of mind. Maybe you don’t. And that’s perfectly ok.
The problem I have is that there are areas where governing bodies have started to mandate that I protect myself from the rule breakers. It is now illegal for me to allow my car to warm up in my own driveway with the keys in the car. Even if I lock the door. It’s my car and there are rules that say you cannot take my car without my permission. It’s in my driveway and there are more rules that say you can’t come on my property and take anything without my permission. My doors are locked, which means if you don’t have a key I don’t want you in. But, those rules are all subject to compliance. And rule breakers don’t care. Car theft became such a big problem they couldn’t figure out how to solve it. What could we possibly do? Then one brilliant person had a super bright light bulb ding over their head. And they shared their brilliant idea with their lawmaker friends. And they all said, “this is good, it will work!” And now it’s illegal for me to let my car warm up in my driveway with my doors locked. And you know why? Because I follow the rules.
They couldn’t figure out how to control the rule breakers so they have to manipulate the rule followers.
We could take this logic they’ve used and apply it to a plethora of areas. Why don’t we start with retail businesses. People shoplift…a lot. Why don’t we make it illegal for stores to display merchandise that allows people to steal it? Require that they lock everything up so nothing is ever stolen. The stores will follow the rules. Problem solved. People speed on the highway. Let’s require car manufacturers to install an automatic braking system on cars so no one can speed. Oh, they will have to redesign the vehicles and retool the plants, that’s ok. The car manufacturers will follow the rules. Problem solved. I know I’m talking crazy talk now. Or am I? Think about some of the rules that are in place today.
There is too much violence in schools and we need to do a better job of protecting our kids. So what do we do. We create a zero tolerance for weapons in school. Great idea! But, when little Johnny the rule follower forgets to take his pocket knife out of his coat after his den meeting where he earned his Whittlin’ Chip, the administration determines it’s a weapon in school and Johnny gets expelled. But, the problem is solved and our schools are safe. Right?
We have a real vulnerability when it comes to air travel so protections are put in place to keep everyone safe. No liquids over 3 ounces, no nail files, no knitting needles…they’re all weapons. Hundreds of homeless shelters could be stocked with the personal hygiene items that are abandoned at the airport in the interest of following the rules. Problem solved, right? But then the underwear bomber gets on a plane.
I’m glad I live in a country where there are laws and order is kept. I’m all for personal responsibility, heck I think that might be the one thing I could get tattooed on my body because I can’t imagine it ever changing. (I have no idea what a personal responsibility tattoo would look like and I don’t have plans to get one.) But we need to hold everyone accountable for their actions. Don’t make me the criminal because someone stole my car.
Punish the rule breakers, not the rule followers.