As someone who spent 14 years in Henderson, NV and still has a number of connections there, I’ve been watching what’s been said and reported about the canceled firesides for Harry Reid with some amusement. A lot of folks don’t seem to have the slightest clue as to what goes on in Nevada politics, nor have they bothered to find out. Many just charge on down the lane with their opinions despite having a very incomplete view of the picture. If they did, they would walk away with a very different take.
Apparently the tea party movement in Nevada has gotten to a point where they want to register as a third party and run a candidate of their own for US Senate. Given the anger at establishment Republicans, I can’t say that I’m too surprised. That is, until you consider that a third party, the Independent American Party, already exists in Nevada with ballot access, over 4% of total active registered voters, and a platform not too terribly far from where the tea party crowd stands.
It seems like rather bad strategy to forge ahead down the path of a new party when you could simply build on the momentum of a party that already has the same goal no baggage, and a large number of registered voters. (The IAP also has a lot of street cred since they lead initiative petitions to overturn a record tax increase and stop public employee double-dipping.) Anger has trumped reason in Nevada tea party activists.
“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” While we nod our heads in agreement at this idiom, rarely do we consider just how far-reaching it is. It’s very easy to recognize that a good or service offered for free is anything but. Rarely, however, do we evaluate the intangible cost of laws on our society.
As an example, consider the societal cost of raising or lowering the speed limit on a stretch of highway. If it is lowered, we save lives, but at a cost of additional commute times. If it is raised, commute times drop while highway fatalities increase. You can also find a societal cost in legalizing a behavior. A real hot button locally is liberalization of liquor laws. It seems like an easy thing to say yes to. After all, shouldn’t an adult be able to drink whatever they want whenever they want in whatever quantity they want if they don’t affect others? Our eastern neighbor, Nevada, has taken this approach to alcohol to the extreme. Any kind of alcohol is available in venues from liquor stores to grocery stores to gas stations all day, every day. They subsequently have one of the highest rates of DUI in the nation, soaring auto insurance premiums, and severe issues with alcohol abuse. It’s very difficult to ignore those adverse affects.
Many libertarians will often argue that this societal cost is non-existent. In their mind, individual liberty outweighs any potential negative side effect that may occur. Unfortunately, the irresponsible among us who would abuse liberty often ignore responsibility. This irresponsible behavior often leads to loss of life or liberty for another party. Putting an overemphasis on individual rights over collective rights (or the converse) is what leads to this imbalance of liberty and responsibility. It is incumbent upon each of us to consider the far-reaching consequences of the laws and policies we promote and ask if we are truly prepared to pay the real cost of such laws.
So where do we draw the line? That is up for the people as a whole to decide. A great thing about out nation is that we have the freedom to congregate with like-minded people and make the government of our choosing. If you do not like the particular balance between individual and collective rights struck in your locale, vote with your feet. Just don’t forget that everything has its price.