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Making rules for the rest of us

Is it so unfair that people who don’t play the game get to make the rules? How many of the voters that passed the recent $2 a pack tax increase on cigarettes were smokers? I am convinced not too many.

The opposition is spending a great deal of money buying television commercial time to air anti-tobacco advertisements. Thank goodness for the buttons that change the channels. I use the same button when the abused animals and sick children ads come on.

The passage of California Vehicle Code Section 27803, a mandatory motorcycle helmet law in California in 1992, ruined much of the joy of motorcycle riding. The feeling of wind in your hair and even the bugs in your teeth were part of fun.

According to “the passage of a mandatory helmet law in California in 1992 was followed a year later by a 37 percent decrease in the number of motorcycle-related deaths in the state. The risk of suffering a head injury in a motorcycle accident decreases by 69 percent when helmet use is mandatory for all riders and passengers.”

I would bet the legislators that passed these laws never swayed on the back of an iron horse. For many years my mother worked as a nurse in the emergency room at the Dearborn and the Madera County hospitals. Anytime a victim of a motorcycle accident was brought in for treatment she would lecture my brothers on the dangers of the motorcycle. I don’t think it ever occurred to her to include me in her diatribe. Neither brother ever rode or owned motorcycles.

The first time Fred and I pulled into her driveway on the back of his Harley, sans helmets of course, she realized her mistake. She was not happy.

At age 20, I borrowed money from my future mother-in-law and bought my first motorcycle. It was a small Honda 125-CC. I named it buzzy because the motor sounded like a ticked-off swarm of bees. I wanted a Harley because they were American made and the coolest bikes on the market. The smaller Harleys of the era were made in Italy and those little spaghetti bikes were none too reliable. I considered a Harley Sportster, but at 1,000-CC it seemed wiser to start small. My second bike was a 185-CC Honda Twinstar that had more power and was better on the highway.

I never even owned a helmet. What the law doesn’t address is the adverse effect of helmets on the rider’s peripheral vision and hearing ability on the road.

There are many insulting euphemisms for motorcycle helmets such as brain buckets and skid-lids. There are others that aren’t fit to print in a family newspaper.

It was a dark day when I used my Honda motorcycle as a trade-in for a Honda lawnmower. As the owner of the Honda shop rolled my bike away, I had tears running down my face and decided I was officially old.

There are two states without helmet laws, Iowa and Indiana. California is one of 19 states that require all riders to wear helmets. The other 30 states have some form of mandatory helmet imposed on riders under the age of majority.

Legislators love to enact public safety laws because it makes them appear to be accomplishing something for our tax dollars.

Watching CSPAN as a group of skinny old white guys make policy decisions on women’s health issues is infuriating. The ones that espouse the will of the almighty as their rationale for defunding Planned Parenthood and religious objections to funding various forms of contraception never have to worry about getting pregnant. Erectile dysfunction should also be viewed as the will of God and yet funding Viagra prescriptions is still eligible under most health plans.

Have a great weekend.


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