Veto serves few

Published 10:48 am Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gov. Dayton’s veto of a bill that would have legalized an expanded array of fireworks exemplified the kind of thinking that will eventually lead Minnesota and the nation into stagnation. Basing decision on the inability of a few, rather than on the ability of the many, is a sure way to drive an entire society’s freedoms down to the lowest common denominator.

The fireworks bill, which would have established a several-week period preceding Independence Day during which aerial displays could be legally sold and used in Minnesota, sailed through the House and Senate with minimal opposition. Exemplifying a big-brother-knows-best attitude, however, Dayton vetoed the measure. “Most Minnesotans are responsible enough to ignite and explode these inherently dangerous devices properly and safely,” Dayton wrote in his veto letter. “Unfortunately, some are not.”

The governor’s concluding sentence is indisputably accurate. Of course, the sentiment also applies to almost every other activity of life, from driving a car to operating a snowblower to managing a natural gas-fueled oven to crossing the street. Minnesotans get hurt doing those things week after week, but if they — and the long list of other daily activities that some people can’t do properly — was to guide our lives, we’d be left to do nothing but sit on the couch and watch television.

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Telling Minnesotans what they can and can’t do based on the ability (or inability) of a few makes absolutely no sense at all — unless, like the governor, one believes he has the duty to protect people from themselves rather than the duty to let people guide their own lives. And people who are steadily denied more and more opportunities to guide their own lives will eventually lose the ability to do so.