Weekly Posting of the Conservative Cow Doctor


Freedom Sledding

About twenty years ago, my oldest daughter, Meagan, received a runner sled for Christmas. We were at the ranch in Wyoming and early snowstorms had polished the roads along the foothills into a solid sheet of ice. For sledding, it was the perfect storm. After Christmas breakfast, we filled the pickup with kids and sleds (or sled substitutes), and drove to the top of the hill behind the house for some redneck bobsledding.

My brother, Blaine, slid first in the calf sled he dug out of the calving barn. He banged off a summer’s worth of dust, manure, and some dried after-birth before crawling into the black plastic box. Sitting upright, he reached back and dug his Handy-Andy protected fingers in the ice to steer and brake. When he gave a nod, we gave him a shove. The vibration of the hard plastic across the ice made more noise than speed and the cotton glove brakes only lasted one run before his fingers wore through. We abandoned the calf sled after the first run.

Next up was Meagan’s sled. Dick, my brother-in-law, balanced the sled on his hip as he trotted up to speed. With a crash, he belly flopped onto the sled and shot down the ice like a rocket. Within seconds he zoomed out of sight around the first corner leaving a contrail of ice and snow. Suddenly, he burst into view on the second straight away before disappearing around the second corner for the final drop to the Pass Creek Road. It was amazing! Speechless and inspired, we hopped in the pickup and raced to pick up Uncle Dick.

To be fair and because it was her Christmas sled, next we loaded up Meagan and her cousins and gave them a shove. A couple collisions with the snow banks sent mittens, hats and snow boots scooting down the road and this quickly dampened our mini-bobsledder’s enthusiasm, so the warm air blowing out of the defroster vents became more inviting than sliding on the ice. Our Norman Rockwell outing then morphed into a sledding contest between Meagan’s father and her uncles.

After a dozen runs, we figured the two corners on our hill blocked us from reaching terminal velocity, so we moved a couple miles up the creek where the road makes a straight half-mile plunge off the X—X hill. GPS technology wouldn’t be developed for twenty years so we clocked our speed by chasing the bobsledder with the pickup. The speedometer suggested we hit 70 M.P.H.! (I say “suggested” because in the feed pickup engine vibration caused the needle to jump erratically once we passed 40.) You cannot possibly imagine the thrill of lying prone on a $29 sled made in China, and zooming along with your belly three inches off the ice and hitting speeds where the snot instantly freezes to your upper lip. Life is great when you are a country kid.

One might say such sledding was dangerous, but I disagree. Of all the plates and screws which hold my body together, not a one was earned on a runner sled. Charles A. Lindbergh explained it best when he said, “I would rather by far die on a mountainside than in bed. What sort of a man would live where there is no daring?” This brings me to my point. In free-market capitalism, America’s founding principle, daring innovators accept and exchange risk for the opportunity to succeed. When government steps in to prop up the losers and hold down the winners, the system collapses and guarantees an equal abundance of misery for all. This is exactly where America is today. We have morphed from rugged, daring individualism into a nation of pansies who demand government remove all risk and pain from our lives. If you think I am being facetious, consider this: In December, Beaver Borough, Pennsylvania, banned sledding on one hill, prohibited it for non-residents on another, and passed rules requiring children under 12 to wear a helmet. What would Charles Lindbergh think?

In my three terms in the Montana House, I have seen dozens of bills such as the primary seat-belt law, helmet laws, and cell phone bans, intending to protect us from ourselves. After being voted down, these nanny state laws are repeatedly re-introduced until they eventually slip through. Once enacted, government power, the entity George Orwell labeled “Big Brother”, grows relative to individual freedom and another piece of America is lost.

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