Here’s a minor but enlightening illustration of government overreach. In the great commonwealth of Kentucky, prescriptions for eyeglasses have an expiration date (my latest had a one-year expiration date; other states are, no doubt, similar), which means if you happen to sit on your glasses after your prescription has “expired” you cannot, by law, get a replacement set without a new eye exam, even if your eyesight hasn’t changed in years. That law forces the following decision on those with broken glasses: Spend money you would not otherwise spend on an eye exam or walk around wearing broken glasses.
Even though I have insurance coverage through my employer that mostly pays for the exam and the glasses, I, out of defiance to this tyranny, walked through this world for several months with a super-glued set of glasses before I surrendered to the eye police and got an exam.
No doubt the optometrists convinced the lawmakers this was all for the public good. One can easily write their legislative argument: “Imagine someone walking around with developing glaucoma, which a simple eye exam would detect. This law might save someone from going blind, so even if it saved only one person’s sight, it would be worth it.” Lawmakers get to feel good about saving someone’s eyesight; optometrists get to feel good about getting more revenue; and those of us who are thusly compelled are not at all victims of this law but are beneficiaries, thanks to the enlightened few.
And let’s not overlook the fact that this law is completely discriminatory in its effect. It only forces an additional burden on those of us with poor vision. Those with perfect vision – or who are totally blind – are completely free from this burden. It also has a much greater impact on the less fortunate, who are much less likely to have vision insurance or the financial means to pay for an exam.
So, we citizens of marginal vision are forced to surrender a portion of our own pursuit of happiness – in the form of the time, trouble, and cost of annual eye exams – to advance the pursuit of happiness for lawmakers and optometrists.
Put another way, The Collective has concluded this particular situation calls for the rights of the individual to be sacrificed to the rights of The Collective.