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Many Americans Ambivalent Over Laws Aimed at Healthy Living
Date:3/21/2012

ty for their own actions and "be free to make their own decisions, even if they suffer as a result."

One expert stressed that a balance must be struck between maintaining both public health and individual freedoms.

"In an interdependent society, there do need to be protocols that protect people from each other and also enable us to protect ourselves," said Philip Howard, chairman of Common Good, a nonprofit organization that champions legal reform.

While most of the regulations mentioned in this survey were supported, Howard, who is also the author of The Death of Common Sense, said that there are "a million regulations that Americans would agree are nonsensical."

These might include teachers being required to fill out so many forms that they no longer have time to teach, or extremely complicated reimbursement policies for government-funded insurance.

"Talking on the phone and texting while driving are actively dangerous for other people," he reasoned. "Unvaccinated children dramatically increase the risk of other people getting diseases."

However, regulation can also go too far, Howard noted. "In a crowded society, you want protocols and regulations that protect us from each other and give us information," he said. "What you don't want is micromanagement."

More information

For more on the hazards of distracted driving, head to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

SOURCES: Humphrey Taylor, chairman, Harris Poll, New York City; Philip Howard, chairman, Common Good, and author, The Death of Common Sense; Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, Feb. 27-29, 2012


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