This question would’ve ruined The Cannonball Run

Someone clicked on my site today following an interesting link: should cars go only 65 miles per hour.

This, I think, exemplifies the difference in political ideologies better than nearly anything else I can think of. The most obvious question would seek to uncover whether a speed limit is necessary, and if so, what it should be. Anyone who drives understands that speed limits are necessary, so the first part becomes intellectual more than anything. That leaves the second part for consideration. One could reasonably argue that 65 is too low, as evidenced by most traffic on our highways, but it’s what we have right now as a general consensus in America. We’re left with enforcement, which is what my visitor wanted to explore. Anyone wish to disagree that it’s decidedly Liberal to ask the question as the visitor phrased it?

As I’ve explored politics and begun to think about a broader range of topics, I’ve set out to construct stronger critical thinking skills through which I may process new issues. Rather than wait for partisan talking points, I can come to my own conclusion. That requires asking questions, and asking them correctly. For example, I used to believe that smoking bans were wonderful. I hate smoking, I hate second-hand smoke, and I hate smelling and feeling like an ashtray whenever I’ve been around smoking. With a smoking ban, I would be able to go to bars and hang out with my friends. Since I don’t drink, the atmosphere has to sell the bar to me as a customer and clean air is successful in that effort. That made smoking bans enjoyable for me. The net positive effect on me was “good”.

But now I think a bit differently. I imagine the issue within a larger framework, built with only three walls instead of four so that I may look out and see how it affects society. I have rights, but so do others. Sure I like the benefits of not being around smoking, but there was always a flaw in my analysis. I hate bars, too. I don’t like being around drunk people. (Hell, I don’t really like being around people.) What legitimate benefit would I get from a smoking ban, protecting me from a harm that I can avoid without government intervention? More importantly, how does an outright ban impact other people who do enjoy smoking and bars that allow smoking? Businesses are privately-owned, since the owner either owns or controls the property. He should be able to dictate what people may do within the confines of his establishment. Government has no right to step in and protect the patrons who frequent the bar by choice just because I view their behavior as stupidity. If enough people don’t like smoky bars, the loss of business will force the owner to change. Either that, or someone else will act on the opportunity to open a non-smoking bar. Capitalism is grand that way.

Back to the original example, I would never ask if cars should go only 65 miles per hour. I suspect that visitor could support government regulation to force cars to accelerate to no faster than 65 miles per hour. Speeding would stop overnight. Such a ban would benefit society all around, but only if we ignore the simple fact that speed and recklessness are not directly correlated (an observational statement rather than scientific, but I don’t suspect many will disagree). Again, watch the highways and see that the majority of traffic flows at anywhere between 70 and 80 miles per hour (or more) with few accidents.

How a person phrases her question will impact the conclusion. Ask wisely.