In the wake of the Boston bombings, many people throughout the country are bracing. Yes, they got the alleged perpetrators, with one in custody and the other in the morgue, but now they brace for the inevitable legislative push that will result in nothing but a loss of liberty for people who had nothing to do with the bombings.
Sounds a lot like gun control, doesn’t it?
Memes are flying fast and furious in the wake of the apprehension of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, many joking about what Congress and the White House will try to ban. They’re generally meant humorously, but I’m not so sure.
Over this week, we’ve heard about pressure cookers being suggested as bomb housing by such diverse sources as The Anarchist Cookbook and an al-Qaeda guide on making IEDs. As such, could they be the likely target of Washington’s ire?
Even now, statist forces are trying to decide how to keep us safe my taking away our freedoms. Just as they have done with meth, it’s entirely possible that those forces will look at regulation of how many pressure cookers one can buy in a given time frame as a way to curb would be terrorists.
In reality, almost no one buys several pressure cookers over a short period of time…unless they’re building bombs. The fact that multiple publications call for such to be used as housing is really a good reason in some people’s eyes to restrict them in some way.
Of course, there are a few things that will make this more difficult. For one, Sudafed doesn’t exact have a resale value, while used pressure cookers do. Of course, that’s not exactly a deterent for many in Washington, now is it?
In the midst of the debates about banning firearms with certain features, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed attempt to ban New Yorkers from drinking soft drinks he felt were too large, and the debate over whether or not same sex couples should have the ability to enter into a legal contract to have the same legal rights and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples, a thought occurred to me: “Gee there are a lot of people out there who just want to ban things!”
Why is this impulse so prevalent in our society? It seems that nearly everyone wants to be free to live their lives as they see fit. I haven’t met too many people who favor any notion of limiting their freedom because elected officials passed a law or majority of fellow citizens took a vote. When it comes to one’s own personal liberties, everyone is a libertarian! Consider that the Gadsen flag underneath the coiled rattlesnake reads: “Don’t Tread on Me.”
But far too many of these same people who jealously defend their own liberties are more than eager to limit someone else’s when that someone else engages in an activity that, for whatever reason, offends them. No, when it comes to other people, these people who don’t want their liberties tread on are not libertarian but majoritarian (i.e. political might makes right).
Back when I first heard about the proposed New York soda ban, I couldn’t believe anyone would suggest something that ridiculous. Seriously? A city putting limits to sizes on sugary drinks? They couldn’t be serious.
But they were serious. Then it was approved by New York’s Board of Health. Seriously. You can’t buy a 20-ounce Coke in New York City.
Now people in Washington D.C. are trying to get the soda ban in place there, as well. Apparently stupidity is contagious.
The issue came up at a debate for council seat candidates. Two current council members said they would support a ban like New York put in place. That got councilwoman Mary Cheh giddy with excitement. It was Cheh who tried unsuccessfully to put a larger tax on sugary drinks, so the thought that she could control what you drink in Washington – or at least how much of it you drink – is music to her ears.
And Cheh even knows that her position on this issue is going to bring criticism from, you know, people who have a brain. She said, “I know ‘nanny state’ and all that, but it’s appropriate for government to intervene at times to make sure that the choices that are presented are healthy for us.”
Her statement isn’t even kind of correct. It’s not ever appropriate for government to intervene to save you from yourself.
The Board of Health in New York has approved Bloomberg’s suggested soda ban. This weekend while working in the yard, I remembered my high school science teacher teaching that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. What would be the reaction to this soda ban?
The Action: These are the details of the plan, as reported here.
Under the plan, all restaurants, fast-food joints, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums and even food carts will be barred from selling sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces.
The limits will not apply to drinks sold in grocery stores, diet sodas, drinks that are more than 70-percent fruit juice, or that contain alcohol.
Dairy drinks containing more than 50 percent milk will also be allowed thanks to their redeeming nutritional qualities — though that’s little solace for Frappuccino lovers since the Starbucks treats contain far less milk than that.
The Reaction: Here are some things we might expect to see as a result of the soda ban.
1. Marketing Gimmicks
While working in the yard this weekend, I tried to think of ways I would handle the ban if I owned a restaurant in New York City. Maybe a restaurant sells a large diet soda but lets the customer get it himself; he could just get a sugary option instead. Maybe the large size on the menu would become two separate 16-ounce cups.
New York Mayor Michael “Ban the Big Gulp” Bloomberg is at it again. This time, he’s voicing some ideas that are, quite frankly, beyond the idiocy he routinely spouts off. This time, he told CNN’s Piers Morgan that he thinks police officers should go on strike until guns are outlawed.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told CNN’s Piers Morgan last night that he doesn’t “understand why police officers across this country don’t stand up collectively and say we’re going to go on strike, we’re not going to protect you unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what’s required to keep us safe.”
First, Bloomberg is actually asking law enforcement officers - you know, the people who can actually arrest criminals, take them to jail, and all that - to go on strike to affect political change in this country? Really? That’s just downright terrifying…if any police officers were willing to actually do it.
The reason that it’s scary is that many people obey laws simply because of a fear of going to prison. If there are no police due to a strike, then that deterent is no longer there. Welcome to downright anarchy. Bloomberg isn’t a complete idiot, despite his comments. He knows this. What he’s basically asking is that police use extortion techniques on the American people to affect change in gun laws. Extortion happens to be a crime that police arrest people for!
But I’m sure Mayor Bloomberg won’t let that stop him.
California became famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, a few weeks ago when it became the first state to ban the traditional method of producing foie gras, the fatty substance dervice from duck and goose liver that is considering something of a gourmet delicacy.
The reason for the ban had nothing to do with the health arguments that have been made in recent years about foie gras, but because animal rights advocates contended that the method of production, which involves feeding the animals large amounts of food in a short period of time, was cruel. There are other methods of producing foie gras, but it’s generally accepted that these alternative methods produce a vastly inferior product. As a result, some California restaurants have resorted to creative legal arguments to allow them to keep making the product available, while other Californians are engaging in a practice that is reminiscent of the era when alcohol was banned in the United States:
“Find out just what people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them…The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” ~ Fredrick Douglass, Freed Slave and leader of the abolitionist movement
Having already made a name for himself nationwide with a crackdown on crime in the nation’s largest city, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made his place in history permanent just over a decade ago with his inspiring and firm handling of the Muslim terrorist attacks of 9/11. In the aftermath of that attack, Giuliani brought a city and a nation together, refusing to allow bloodthirsty madmen the satisfaction ofour surrender. True, they dealt a devastating blow, but it was a sneak attack in a long war, and like Pearl Harbor, it would be answered with overwhelming force.
A decade later, third-term NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken up the mantle of leadership from the retired Giuliani, and also works diligently to protect the citizens of New York City. Admittedly, I have been highly critical of Bloomberg in the past, as when he accused the Times Square Bomber of being a disgruntled TEA Party member angry at the ObamaCare bill (as it turned out, it was an angry practitioner of Islam, the Pakistani-born Faisal Shahzad…but in Bloomberg’s defense, what were the odds that the bomber would turn out to be an angry Muslim? I’d say the odds were no more than 9.95 out of ten at best).
Today, the level of political animus and vitriol seems to be on a nearly vertical trajectory, with both sides pulling out all rhetorical stops in an effort to win converts to their ideology. For a time this seemed to be just a partisan war, but I am beginning to believe that it is much, much deeper than that. I believe we are at one of those great crossroads in our nation’s history where we must assess who we are and what values we hold before we can come to agreement on policies that reflect those beliefs. On the ideological left is a philosophy which elevates the state above the individual, which says we as individuals can’t be trusted to make correct decisions and must therefore be governed by a technocrat oligarchy of (theoretically) unbiased bureaucrats. These are the intellectuals and the scientific “experts” who are smarter than the rest of us and will therefore make wise decisions that we are forced to accept now, and at some distant point in the future we will pay homage as beneficiaries of that wisdom.
This philosophy can be seen in efforts to ban the incandescent light bulb, regulate salt and sugar intake in our diets along with the use of trans-fats; in the use of the tax and regulatory codes to force us into smaller, more fuel efficient cars. It can be seen in attempts to ban all public expressions of religious belief and in the rigging of the free market in favor of “renewable” energy sources by providing taxpayer subsidies that hide the true cost.
On the ideological right is a philosophy that holds the individual above the collective, that sees government as a necessary evil to be kept under tight constraints and against which we must jealously guard our liberties from the encroachment and expansion of government power.
Every day, there’s another lesson in why the government must be limited, restrained, put on a leash and forced to go on a massive diet. But some times, those lessons are more twisted and sick than others. Radley Balko fills us in:
On April 10, 2010, Raquel Nelson lost her 4-year-old son. Nelson was crossing a busy Marietta, Georgia, street with her son and his two siblings when they were struck by a hit-and-run driver. Police were able to track down the driver, Jerry Guy, who later admitted he had been drinking and had taken painkillers the night of the accident. He was also mostly blind in one eye. Guy had already been convicted of two prior hit-and-runs. He pleaded guilty, served six months of his five-year sentence, and was released last October.
If it ended there, this story would merely be tragic. But it gets worse. Last week Nelson herself was convicted on three charges related to her son’s death: reckless conduct, improperly crossing a roadway and second-degree homicide by vehicle. Each is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in prison. Nelson could spend up to six times as many months in jail as the man who struck her son and then fled the scene. Nelson’s crime: jaywalking.
That’s right, folks: a poor woman just lost her son, and now she’s going to jail because they weren’t in the crosswalk when they were hit. Three years in jail, to be exact. This brings up an important point: the distinction between law vs. justice.
Americans are fat. Many are getting fatter, as I type and you read this. Apparently, New York City solved all of its problems and turned their attention to what they can do to stop their citizens from increasing their waist sizes last year. The Board of Health decreed that all food service establishments with more than 15 locations change their menu signage to include caloric counts “prominently.” I will not harp on the added cost to the small (or large) business owners this affects, as the law passed and remains in effect over a year after its initial implementation. I do, however, want to draw your attention to a study conducted by professors at Yale and NYU.
The study includes tracking customer activity at four major-label quick service restaurants, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and KFC, in poor neighborhoods among the NYC boroughs with high levels of obesity, comparing them with socioeconomically similar neighborhoods in Newark, New Jersey, an area without the menu-labeling requirement. On the surface, it seems that providing people with more information would guide consumers toward “healthier” choices when faced with a decision about what to order.