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Tuesday, May 25, 1999

Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Child seat belt laws

arbitrary lines in the sand

The safety police are out in force this week. All this week has been proclaimed Operation ABC Mobilization.

ABC stands for "America Buckles Up Children," a program sponsored by the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign.

The press release didn't make it clear, but I guess the Air Bag and Safety Belt Safety Campaign is an organization to promote just what the name says.

According to the press release the "mobilization" calls for "zero tolerance for unbuckled children."

"Drivers who break the law by not buckling up children will be stopped and enforcement action taken," it continues.

This kind of law really chaps me. Almost as much as the self-righteous people that think them up.

The idea is great I take every precaution I can to safeguard my daughter. Most parents do the same.

The tactics are wrong for two reasons. The first reason is the practical application of the law. The second reason is philosophical.

On the practical side, who ever wrote child safety seat and seat belt laws never lived in West Texas. Probably they are inhabitants of cramped eastern cities where an hour in the car is a long trip.

Out here we may drive an hour or more just to see a movie.

Go to see the grand parents and the drive can turn into six or seven or eight hours for many of us.

Keeping a child restrained in a safety seat for eight hours on end is an exercise in torture and frustration.

And if you don' t have a good air conditioner, like most of us since the government banned R-12 based systems, child safety seats are nothing more than little self-contained sweat boxes.

The makers of rash medicines must pay the designers a premium.

Not to mention the fact that keeping a child still for eight hours of Interstate 20 leans toward the sadistic.

But it's worth it, everyone says, more than a little horrified that anyone would suggest that any law designed to protect children is wrong.

Maybe, maybe not. But either way, it is none of the government's business.

Which leads to my philosophical problem with these kind of laws. The logic behind them leads to some conclusions that are absurd.

All such laws are nothing more than arbitrary lines in the sand drawn by self-riteous, hypocritical bureaucrats.

And if we are going to draw an arbitrary line in the sand regarding the safety of my child, then I think I am better equipped to make the call since I'm the one on the scene. Not the government.

What supporters of these laws are really saying is that this particular safety regulation doesn't seem too inconvenient for them so it is okay and sensible.

Suggest a less convenient regulation and you would hear a general outcry of indignation.

For instance, the only justification for child seat belt laws is the safety of children. When I called the "America Buckles Up Children" people I asked them and that is what they said.

Fine. Then lets quit fooling around and really get down to protecting children.

Safety belts can't protect children in every crash. But if the kids weren't in the car, then they would always be safe.

So, if we are serious about protecting children from the hazards of car wrecks, then lets outlaw unnecessary driving with your kids in the car.

Lets make it illegal for parents to negligently endanger their children by driving them all over town getting groceries and such unless it is truly necessary and not just a matter of convenience.

Couldn't that trip to the store wait until mom gets home from work and can stay with the kids? Couldn't you hire a sitter for an hour or two. Aren't your children worth this little bit of inconvenience?

Think of the lives we would save.

Of course, the public would have a fit. The press would scream about the intrusion into our private lives.

It would be silly. But it would follow the same logic as our child restraint laws. No difference at all.

The only difference is who drew the line in the sand and decided this is safe enough but this isn't.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Your View

Governor needs to hear from concerned citizens

Please phone, fax, or write Governor George Bush to ask him to stand by his statement that he does not want Texas to become a radioactive waste dump for the entire nation and ask him to veto CSHB 1171, which would allow a private company to hold a license to bury or store above ground radioactive waste. Licensing would give a private company teh power to contrct with anyone, including the Department of Energy, for movement of radioactive waste into Texas. The compact for Texas, Maine, and Vermont requires disposal of two million cubic feet of radioactive waste. The license potentially increases the volume 150 to 200 times that amount. The license would prevent the State of Texas from controlling the volume or level of radioactivity of waste brought into West Texas according to a statement made this week by the Attorney General's Office.

Phone Governor Bush's staff at (512) 463-2000, fax through (512) 463-1975, or write him aat P.O. Box 12428, Austin, Texas 78711.

This legislation was negotiated secretly between lobbyists for the private companies and Texas senators and state representatives. The people of West Texas were ignored and left out of discusison of this bill, which was revealed five minutes before the Senate Natural Resources Committee chaired by Senator Buster Brown of Lake Jackson voted to approve it. Although the nuclear reactors located in central and south Texas financially benefited the customers of the utility companies in those areas, CSHB 1171 probitis disposal of the nuclear waste in those areas and limits disposal to the western part of the state. Further, the bill is written to exclude the State of Texas from any liability for what may happen to the people of West Texas. The bill would create huge profits for the private disposal companies, which would eventually abandon the site and leave the pople of West Texas with the hazard of the long-lived radioactivity.

Please let the Governor know that you oppose CSHB 1171, and ask that he veto the bill.


Reader wants morons kicked out of the gate

Concerning your column of Tuesday, April 20, 1999. On your experience on human relations which you begin by starting "Whoever is supposed to be standing guard fell asleep and a bunch of MORONS have slipped past the gate."

You could have been writing about Pecos, where it's not what you know, but who you know that counts. You go on to conclude "In the end, we learned that there were really only three ingredients to leadership and respect know your job, take care of the people you are in charge of and act like a man."

My question is how do we wake up the guard and how do we kick this MORONS out the gate?


Reunion attendees enjoy welcome, stay in Pecos

Thank you yet again for the warm welcome we received at our recent 57th class reunion in Pecos. As you have always done for us, we feel like we have come home in fact after your welcoming comments. If we had ever forgotten, our return to Pecos for our class reunions would remind us of the friendliness and spirit of hospital that we remember so fondly from our growing up days in your special city.

In particular, we cherish the worlds in your poetic proclamation (you didn't say who wrote it) and the key to the City that we received from you along with your generous words of congratulations. Like mementos of your past gifts, these will be included as treasured additions to our growing class archives.

Please extend these thanks to whose who helped make our reunion such a memorable occasion. And be assured that in 2001, we will return to start a new millennium of good times in our home town and add new memories to our present remembrance of all the good times from our past.

Best wishes to you and the Town of Pecos, City,

On behalf of our classmates:


Meals on Wheels program thanks all who volunteer

Meal son Wheels would like to take this time to thank all the volunteers who have given of their time to deliver to our elderly and shut-ins. These people that help, know the importance of our older citizens and the desperately needed support with our Meals on Wheels Program.

We welcome any ones thoughts and recommendations for this program. With our busy schedules, its easy to lose sight of the real difference we can make in the lives of our older citizens.

Thank you for your support, in joing me to make Meals on Wheels vital and available for those in need in our community.

Feel free to write to me:
Meals on Wheels Director
Hilda Mendoza
700 Daggett, Suite F, Pecos, Tx 79772
or call 447-4913 or 445-2054

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