Three and a half months after the Missouri Senate voted to repeal that state’s helmet law, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill. Nixon did it just before Independence Day at the end of a week when the only thing that happened, according to most American newscasts, was that Michael Jackson remained dead.
Nixon’s veto is an impressive victory for the insurance lobby. The lobby may not actually be entitled to vote but it sure can show politicians a whole lotta money. And, money talks.
The helmet law repeal, Senate Bill 202, would have allowed riders over the age of 20 to ride anywhere except on Interstate Highways with a bare head.
Helmets Save Lives
As the governor explained it, his veto was all about keeping bikers safe from themselves.
“In terms of lives and of dollars, the cost of repealing Missouri’s helmet law simply would have been too high,” Nixon declared in an email. An email! Not even a video press release! “By keeping Missouri’s helmet law intact, we will save numerous lives, while also saving Missouri taxpayers millions of dollars in increased health care costs. Keeping our helmet law in place was the safe and cost-effective choice for Missouri.”
In other words, government does not even have to pretend to serve the will of the people anymore. Government now exists to act in the best interests of a disenfranchised people – as decided by corporate lobbies.
The usual authorities supported Nixon’s veto. Tom Holloway, a spokesman for the Missouri State Medical Association said his lobbying group “believes very strongly that the helmet law serves the state well. It’s saved lives. It’s prevented injuries. And, it’s saved countless dollars in unnecessary health care costs.”
Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn, an enormously unpleasant know-it-all had campaigned against the repeal. Rahn spent $33,000 of public money to conduct a poll to prove that motorcyclists like to wear helmets. Meanwhile Rahn complained yesterday that Missouri was running out of highway funds.
And, a traffic cop in St. Joseph named Bill McCammon was widely quoted as saying that repealing the helmet law would result in a “fifty percent increase in motorcycle fatalities.” McCammon declined to say he how he determined his prediction.
The usual dissenters criticized the veto. Mark Chapman, chairman of a bikers’ rights group in Missouri called the Freedom of the Road Riders, told the Associated Press that if Missouri really cared about safety, the police would start pulling over people for not wearing seat belts, make horse and bicycles riders wear helmets and tell fat people to lose weight.
“It’s a basic freedom of choice,” Chapman said. “Even God gives me a right to choose whether I believe in Him or not. Another human being should not be able to make a choice for someone else.”
Unless, of course, they are really, really rich. And meanwhile, this just in. Michael Jackson is still dead!