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To the editor

Why do societies have formal regulations? Fundamentally, it is to protect citizens at-large; often great swaths of our populace that don’t have the means to defend themselves. In this way, if we impose modest rules that, collectively, carry great benefit in the form of human or environmental health, we get a bargain. As a culture, we usually arrive at what to regulate by starting out with social pressure, but when people or corporations don’t comply with ethical norms, we are forced to implement laws for those few offenders who believe they can live independent of their surroundings. Too bad. If only we could behave in the best interest of our community without such directives.

Winter is upon us, so it may be time for a friendly reminder of Logan City’s anti-idling ordinance (Ord. #14-16). The law states that no persons should allow their motor vehicle to run while stationary for more that two minutes when the temperature is greater than 0 degree Fahrenheit. Exceptions include unavoidable stops in traffic or by public safety personnel. The ordinance was originally intended to be primarily educational, with three warnings required before a modest fine was imposed. To my knowledge, nobody has been fined and local police have displayed a reluctance to even warn chronic violators. Maybe they haven’t received enough community complaints? Without anti-idling compliance – one might even question the educational success – perhaps it is time to sharpen the teeth in this edict.

Modern automobiles don’t need to idle in cold weather to function smoothly. In fact, our cars are designed to run most efficiently when driven within a minute of starting the engine. But old habits persist; I was taught 40 years ago to run the engine until the motor “got warm.” No longer. Some – let’s say those who desire comfort or convenience – wish for the interior of their car to be comfortably warm or to defrost their windows while remaining within their warm homes. This trade-off between their comfort and our collective health (not to mention frivolously spewing fuel dollars!) steps over that “shouting fire in a theater” line. “Fires” that are invisible and slow moving are no less hazardous to our terminal well-being.

In our hyper-capitalist world, we have arrived at placing a premium on personal freedoms which may advance our station, while simultaneously stomping on the well-being of neighbors and planet. Individual freedoms for ease or recreation or imagined rights are commonly framed in narrow personal perspectives that overlook broader impacts. The old maxim stands: your right to wildly swing your fists stops at the edge of my face. Cache Valley’s face is taking a bruising right now for the expediency of a selfish few.

Paul Rogers


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