Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
Tuesday, May 25, 1999
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
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
Suggest a less convenient regulation and you would hear a general outcry
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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:
AUTHELLA AND WAILAND BESSENT
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
700 Daggett, Suite F, Pecos, Tx 79772
or call 447-4913 or 445-2054
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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Peggy McCracken, Webmaster
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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