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OK, let me get this straight: The folks at the National Transportation Safety Board who mandated a few years ago that all cars needed to be equipped with air bags, now acknowledge what many of us suspected all along — that they’re not always safe.

In fact, they admit, sometimes they kill people — usually children. The Washington Post did an excellent, thoroughly documented series on this a couple weeks ago. So what’s their solution?

Having forced their almighty will upon the citizens of this country either without or in spite of the research, they are using their own failure to justify even more intrusion into our lives.

How? According to reports earlier this week, the federal agency will ask all 50 states to make it illegal for a child to ride in the front seat. In addition, the bureaucrats, without any evidence of authorization from the Congress of the United States, will take the first steps toward eventually mandating that all automobiles manufactured in the country include a “black box” recorder similar to those on commercial airliners.

It’s the old story with big government: Create a problem — or, at least, exacerbate one — and then empower yourself further by proposing an even more draconian solution.

When are Americans going to catch on to this game? Why don’t we hear more outrage — or, at least, laughter — about these comically insane ideas?

Now, is my concern justified? Just read for yourself from the New York Times report how the Clinton administration intends to proceed with plans likes this:

“The National Transportation Safety Board typically issues its recommendations, most of which are ultimately adopted, to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Coast Guard and other federal regulatory bodies. But highway safety laws are the prerogative of the states, although Washington has considerable power to prod.

“For instance, President Clinton has called for withholding federal highway aid from states that lack strict seat-belt laws, a tactic reminiscent of what the government did a quarter-century ago to make the states lower their speed limits. Clinton’s approach has found little favor in Congress, however, or among the nation’s governors.”

This is the problem with government. It thinks it knows better than you what’s good for you. And it is willing to use all of its coercive and corrosive power to impose its will.

We’re getting so used to this process here in America that no one is even questioning it anymore. And that’s scary.

We’re like that frog sitting in a pot of water on the burner. It doesn’t notice that the heat is gradually but steadily increasing. If the heat were suddenly increased, the frog would jump out. Instead, the front slowly boils to death. Think of that frog as representing the freedom we have cherished for so long here in the United States.

It may not seem like a big deal when the government forces your children to ride in cars equipped with airbags. It may not bother you all that much when the government mandates that your child can no longer sit in the front seat with you. And it may not occur to you how much more you will have to pay for your next car because of requirements that it have a black box in it. Nevertheless, slowly but surely, you are losing your choices. You are losing your freedoms.

It’s bad enough when the government acts on the basis of sound research — which is seldom the case. However, when it acts capriciously, based on emotionalism — as was the case with the air bag issue — it’s downright criminal.

Have people’s lives been saved by air bags? Sure. But have people — mostly kids — been killed by them? You bet.

The government ought to be like a responsible physician, whose motto is: First do no harm. Instead, the government today is acting more like Dr. Kevorkian.

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