Tales of the Nanny State: taxing your dessert, timing your TV watching

February 20, 2015
I said, no fun allowed!

I said, no fun allowed!

Because what Americans are yearning for right now is even more government intrusion into their daily lives:

The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released its far-reaching 571-page report of recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Thursday, which detailed its plans to “transform the food system.”

The report is open for public comment for 45 days, and will be used as the basis by the government agencies to develop the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are used as the basis for government food assistance programs, nutrition education efforts, and for making “decisions about national health objectives.”

DGAC proposed a variety of solutions to address obesity, and its promotion of what it calls the “culture of health.”

“The persistent high levels of overweight and obesity require urgent population- and individual-level strategies across multiple settings, including health care, communities, schools, worksites, and families,” they said.

And if that isn’t enough, DGAC wants to monitor your TV watching — for your own good, of course:

The amount of sedentary time Americans spend in front of computers and TV sets is also a concern to the federal panel.

They recommended “coaching or counseling sessions,” “peer-based social support,” and “electronic tracking and monitoring of the use of screen-based technologies” as a way to limit screen time.

The screen-time recommendations came from The Community Guide, a group affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reviewed studies that used an “electronic monitoring device to limit screen time” of teenagers.

Progressive America — where TV watches you!

Really, if these bureaucratic scolds wanted to annoy people so much they would elect even more small-government conservatives who would then take a meat ax to the bureaucracy, they couldn’t find a better way to go about it. “Sin taxes” are already so popular with the public.

I encourage them to press on.


Should Government Regulators Make the Internet More Like the Post Office or DMV?

February 15, 2015

I’ll take Option C, “neither.”

International Liberty

The Internet has made all of our lives better, in part because there’s been an accidental policy of benign neglect from Washington.

But that’s about to change.

Even though our economy already is burdened by record amounts of regulation and red tape, the FCC is pushing forward with a plan to turn the Internet into a moss-covered public utility.

This almost leaves me at a loss for words. It’s truly remarkable – in a bad way – that the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission think that the Internet can be improved by a big dose of 1930s-era regulation and control.

My Cato colleague, Jim Harper, summarized the issue last month.

Do you want your Internet service provider to operate like the water company or the electric company?… the FCC has sought for years now to regulate broadband Internet service providers…like it used to regulate AT&T, with government…

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There Are some Bad Cops, but the Real Problem Is Bad Laws

January 8, 2015

I think it was the Roman writer Tacitus who said “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”

International Liberty

It’s probably not a fun time to be a police officer. The deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York have led some – including the Mayor of New York City – to explicitly or implicitly accuse cops of systemic racism.

And then you have folks like me, who grouse about cops for reprehensible abuse of citizens as part of the drug war, as well as disgusting examples of theft using civil asset forfeiture.

Heck, any decent person should get upset about some of the ways law enforcement officials abuse their powers. Consider these excerpts from a nightmarish story out of Houston.

Chad Chadwick has something many citizens can only covet – a spotless record. …But on the night of September 27th, 2011 Chadwick’s commitment to living within the law did him no good at all. It started when a friend concerned for Chadwick’s emotional well-being…

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Good Lord, the government really is planning to ban donut sprinkles!

December 30, 2014
Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State

I thought a friend was joking when he said the government was “going after” sprinkles, but then I saw an item in  this morning’s bulletin from the California Political Review that lead me to Warner Todd Huston’s post at Publius Forum, which in turn lead me to this jaw-dropper from Mike Flynn at Breitbart from before Christmas:

Early next year, the FDA is expected to finalize a new regulation intended to eradicate even trace amounts of partially hydrogenated oils, known as trans fats, from our diets.

Although the amount of trans fats Americans consume has declined significantly in recent years, the FDA’s quest to completely eliminate a particular type of trans fat threatens to eliminate the noble “sprinkle,” used to decorate holiday treats and donuts. Even a small amount of joy is suspect in the FDA’s brave, new, food-monitored world.

In recent years, research has determined that consuming large amounts of trans fats is harmful to the heart. Trans fats have been in the American diet since the 1950s, but recent awareness of its health risks have pushed food companies and restaurants to minimize its use. Today, Americans consume just 1.3 grams of trans fats a day, around 0.6% of total caloric intake. No research has shown this level of consumption to pose any risk.

Flynn goes on to point out the irony in the situation: the very organization that now pushes for a total trans-fat ban, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), in the 1980s and 1990s was urging restaurants and food manufacturers to switch to trans-fats, because they were “healthier.” Oops.

And now we’re supposed to trust them and the FDA on this.

The argument over trans-fats aside, this is another example of the eternal desire of the Nanny State to regulate and control everything in our lives — for our own good, of course. You’re not capable of making your own decisions over your own affairs –what foods to eat, what kind of lighting to use, &c.– so boards of experts, that progressive ideal, have to make them for you.

There’s another imperative behind this and other examples of nanny-statism: the built-in, always-on need of all regulatory agencies to ensure there is a reason for their continued existence and for increasing their budgets. No problem is ever truly solved; there is always some new rule to issue, some standard to tighten, even if there is no real problem that needs fixing. But the regulators need their enemy: To admit they’ve accomplished their goals would mean they don’t need more money, maybe not as many staff. It might even leave them vulnerable to the unthinkable: budget cuts or —gasp!— elimination.

And, of course, there wouldn’t be new jobs for crusading nanny-staters fresh out of graduate school.

Enjoy your sprinkled donuts while you can, before Nanny takes them away.

RELATED: Nanny-statism is a feature of the Administrative State, which gives bureaucratic agencies the power to write rules that have the force of law without democratic accountability. A recent book by Philip Hamburger argues that such powers are not only unconstitutional, they are extra-constitutional, not being recognized by our foundational documents at all. Bureaucratic nonsense like the above, such as banning traditional cookies, makes me sympathetic to the idea.

 

 


Regulation gone wild – Christmas lights are the next target of nanny state thinking

December 28, 2014

Well, thank God that Nanny State is here to protect us from the dangers of… Christmas lights. This sounds like a case of bureaucrats with too much time on their hands… and a good reason to get rid of the agency. Anyone know who financially benefits from these proposed regs? Like GE and the incandescent light bulb ban, I’m sure there’s someone, somewhere.

Watts Up With That?

US GOVERNMENT SAY BAH HUMBUG! to Christmas lights

xmas-lights-plugin-griswold

The Comment period ends December 30th on the new regulations that will outlaw affordable Christmas lights including indoor and outdoor lighted decorations of any type. See link below.

From the Washington Times via Gail Combs:

Christmas lights have become so affordable that even the humblest of homes often are lit like the Star of Bethlehem. Federal bureaucrats are working to end this. They claim it will make us safer, but the facts don’t back them up.

It’s not uncommon to find strings of mini-lights priced at $1 for a hundred lights, sometimes even less. To cure this excessive affordability, the feds are rushing to save Americans from mass holiday displays. They seem to believe we all are like Clark Griswold, the bumbling father figure in National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” (played by Chevy Chase), who nearly electrocutes himself, starts fires, falls off the…

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Andrew Klavan on the Left’s war against liberty

December 1, 2014
The  will to power

The will to power

Writing at PJMedia, Andrew Klavan considers the Left’s desperation to use race as political tool –pushing narratives that turn out not to be true; then making up racialist fables that don’t need facts, they’re just true, you racist; and, when those fail, causing problems to prove there is a problem that needs their cure–  and wonders why they do this. What purpose does it serve?

Not one to leave us hanging, Andrew also gives us the answer: the quest for power.

The trouble that besets us is not white against black, and it’s not black against white either. It’s the left against liberty.

Leftism — by which I mean the end of liberty through forced “equality” — by which I mean the absolute power of a ruling class over the unwashed many — by which I mean tyranny — by which I mean leftism — uses race as a ploy, uses the poor as pawns, uses violence as a means, but has only one purpose: power; the power of the elite few. As valid excuses to exercise that power (slavery and segregation) fall away, it creates false excuses (Duke, Trayvon, Ferguson). When the false excuses are exposed, it creates make-believe injustices (white privilege, micro-aggression). When the make-believe is laughed off, it seizes the next moment of high tension to spew lies, gin up emotion, and engineer violence. Then, in the aftermath of the wholly unnecessary turmoil, rage and destruction, we’re all supposed to wearily agree: ”Something must be done.”

The only thing that needs to be done is to boot the leftists out of power and off TV.

I’m down with that.

Whether it’s progressivism, with its rule by technocrats and boards of experts, or out and out Alinskyism, which deliberately sets one group against another (“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”), or bare-naked Bolshevism, the Left beyond a mild social liberalism is all about the taking and holding of power. Conservatives and libertarians want government to perform a few tasks, the kind of jobs it’s best suited to (make war, attend to infrastructure, run the courts, &c) and otherwise leave people to look after their own affairs. Government power should be dispersed and as local as practical. The Left, on the the other hand, wants government to do everything and for themselves to be in charge so they can run everyone else’s affairs for them. And the more centralized the authority, the better.

The Right wants to empower people. The Left wants to empower itself, in the name of The People.

PS: I realize Lefties of good faith might well object to this, being motivated by a genuine, albeit misguided, desire to build a better world. Take it from me: Your “leaders” are using you.

RELATED: An essay from Roger L. Simon you should read. Here’s an excerpt:

The Democrats have been reduced to the party of the rich elite (George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Hollywood, Jonathan Gruber-types, edit al.) and the party of the poor exploited by those elites — a lethal combination that takes society exactly nowhere. In essence, they are the party of racism and sexism — that’s about it. Oh, and climate change. There’s a winner for you.

Yep.


Government Screws Up Everything: The Internet Version

November 14, 2014

A very good video on why we should not let the government regulate the Internet.

International Liberty

When I read that the Obama Administration wants to regulate the Internet by having the Federal Communications Commission impose “net neutrality” rules, my immediate response is to be opposed.

Does my opposition to more regulation and red tape make me a knee-jerk ideologue?

I suppose so, though I think it’s simply a common-sense instinct.

After all, it’s very difficult to come up with a list of successful interventions by government. So I think my automatic aversion to regulation is akin to my automatic aversion to touching a hot stove. Simply stated, I can’t imagine a positive outcome.

But let’s be “open minded” and consider whether there’s some compelling reason to give politicians and bureaucrats power over the Internet.

This video from Reason TV is a very good introduction to the issue.

And since we’re citing Reason, here’s some of what Nick Gillespie wrote on the issue of so-called net neutrality.

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Forget ISIS. The Fed is saving us from the horror of frosted cookies

August 22, 2014
I said, no fun allowed!

No cookies for you! Eat your kale chips!!

Well, thank God and Nanny State that someone is protecting Ohio’s children from the danger of… brace yourselves, friends… pink-frosted butter cookies!!!

Man, that was close:

New federal nutritional guidelines for school cafeterias has meant the end of a favorite — and locally famous — treat in one northeast Ohio school district.

The federal government’s edict to provide healthier foods and cut fats and cholesterol put an end of the sale of the traditional Elyria pink cookie — a buttery sweet treat with pink icing.

The pink cookie has been a favorite for four decades.

You know, with ISIS and Ukraine and Boko Haram and Chinese fighters buzzing our planes and a rotten economy and… so much else, it’s comforting to know that the United States government is saving us all from a bit too much fat in our diets.

Whew! smiley whew

The horror...

The horror…

News and photo via Jim Geraghty


Bigger Government Means More Corruption

July 1, 2014

This brings to mind a quote from Tacitus: ” The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the State.”

International Liberty

I’ve posted more than 3,500 items since I started International Liberty. And if you look at the earliest posts, way back in April of 2009, you’ll find that one of the very first of them made the link between big government and big corruption.

My premise was very simple. When government is very large, with all sorts of power to provide unearned wealth via taxes, spending, and regulation, then you will get more sleaze.

Sort of like the way a full dumpster will attract lots of rats and roaches.

A story in Fortune reports that government corruption at the state level is very costly.

…corruption is everywhere, in one form or another. And it’s costing U.S. citizens big time. A new study from researchers at the University of Hong Kong and Indiana University estimates that corruption on the state level is costing Americans in the 10 most corrupt states…

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North Korea: the nightmare of living under a god

April 11, 2014

North Korea Yeonmi Park

There’s an interesting and frightening interview posted to Business Insider today with Yeonmi Park, a woman who escaped from North Korea with her family as a teenager, but needed years to get over the brainwashing she endured there. An indoctrination so intense, she believed the late Kim Jong Il could read her mind:

Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea, under the watchful eye of then-leader Kim Jong-il.

Though she escaped with her family when she was 15, it took her years to get over the intense brainwashing she experienced. In a recent interview with Australian public broadcasting channel SBS, Park went into unbelievable detail about growing up in the totalitarian state.

Growing up in North Korea, according to Park, was like “living in hell.” She describes constant power outages, no transportation, and watching classmates and friends disappear without a trace. While that may be unsurprising, the most interesting part of Park’s experience is her admission that she believed Kim Jong-il to be “a god” who could literally read her mind.

“I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear,” Park said.

Ms. Park’s story is part of a larger program on mind-control shown by SBS, the Australian public broadcaster.  The whole show is worth watching.

In an article at SBS, she tells more of her own story:

I lived in North Korea for the first 15 years of my life, believing Kim Jong-il was a God. I never doubted it because I didn’t know anything else. I could not even imagine life outside of the regime.

It was like living in hell. There were constant power outages, so everything was dark. There was no transportation – everyone had to walk everywhere. It was very dirty and no one could eat anything.

It was not the right conditions for human life, but you couldn’t think about it, let alone complain about it. Even though you were suffering, you had to worship the regime every day.

I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear. A classmate’s mother was punished in a public execution that I was made to attend. I had no choice – there were spies in the neighbourhood.

George Orwell’s 1984 depicts the UK after an atomic war and a Socialist revolution. Big Brother is a de facto god to the people: his every word the undeniable truth, no matter how it contradicted what he might have said just the day before. Your innermost thoughts known to him, and he held the power to make you willing to accept your own death and the deaths of those close to you as just. His Animal Farm is a parable of a just revolution hijacked by an anti-democratic cadre, who maintain power by turning the other animals against each other and all into slaves. Both are taught as works of fiction, but Yeonmi Park’s story reminds us that they were more like docu-dramas and that the story hasn’t come to an end.

It reminds me of a saying of John Adams:

“It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power”

Our second president was right, but left something out: it’s not just that Mankind is too morally weak for any one person to hold absolute power, but there is also the weakness that makes us willing to surrender our responsibilities as citizens and entrust a small group of people or a single person with unlimited power. It is dangerous because, eventually and inevitably, that power will fall into the hands of evil men.

And then what is to stop them from proclaiming themselves gods?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


On birthday parties, income inequality, and big government

January 20, 2014
"By invitation, only."

“By invitation, only.”

So, in all the excitement of the NFL’s “championship weekend” the featured the 49ers thrilling come-from-ahead loss in Seattle (1), I forgot it was Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday. You can bet she didn’t forget, though, enjoying a lavish party attended by 500 celebrities and political stars. An intimate soirée, in other words.

Like Byron York, I’ve no need to know the details, assuming the party was paid for with private money, but the intense secrecy surrounding it is intriguing:

It’s not easy to enforce discipline on successful, wealthy, and famous people used to having their own way. But the White House apparently did not want to see photos of the first lady’s glittery gala circulating around the Internet. So it imposed a strict rule: No cellphones. “Guests were told not to bring cellphones with them, and there was a cellphone check-in area for those who did,” reported the Chicago Tribune. “Signs at the party told guests: No cellphones, no social media.” People magazine added: “Guests had been greeted by a ‘cell phone check’ table where they deposited their camera phones on arrival and it was understood that this was not an occasion for Tweeting party photos or Facebooking details.” The publications cited sources who insisted on anonymity for fear of White House reprisal.

“So great was the secrecy surrounding the party,” the Tribune reported, “that guests were handed an invitation — on their way out, the sources said.”

Kind of amusing for the Most Transparent Administration in History, no?

York speculates on the reasons for the secrecy, including the aforementioned privacy. But, he also touches on another, one that I think is at least equally valid – political messaging:

Or maybe, since the president has announced he is devoting the rest of his time in office to an “inequality agenda,” the White House felt photos of a champagne-soaked, star-studded party would be somewhat off-message.

I’m willing to bet this is it. The Left is singing like a chorus about income inequality and the widening gap, hoping to distract us all from the rolling disaster of Obamacare, and Michelle’s big blow-out would sound a loud discordant note, if it had gotten out on the Internet.

The truth the Ancien Régime misses while enjoying their luxurious parties at Versailles-on-the-Potomac, however, is that their parties are not the problem. No one really cares whether Michelle invites five, fifty, or five-thousand guests. No one cares (other than as an object of mockery) how many snobby dinner parties Anna Wintour throws for her glitterati friends.

The real problem, according to David Malpass in the Wall St. Journal, is that the Left’s preferred big-government, class warfare policies make the dread inequality worse more often than not:

Big government expansions in recent years have harmed individuals with modest incomes while exempting or benefiting people with higher incomes. These include the federal takeover of the mortgage industry, and the Federal Reserve’s decisions to keep interest rates near zero and buy some $3 trillion in bonds. Both of these expansions channel credit to the government and the well-connected at the expense of savers and new businesses.

Middle-income earners used to be the primary beneficiary of the rise in the value of their houses. Housing gains now lift Washington, allowing the government to pay itself huge “dividends” from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Reserve, which owns nearly $1.5 trillion in the government’s housing-related bonds. The government promptly spends the windfalls, fueling a further accumulation of wealth and income for those with Washington access.

The financial industry is making billions in profits fueled by the government’s provision of zero-rate loans for those with connections and collateral. Wall Street’s upper crust is the epicenter for financing the contractors, lobbyists and lawyers that help the government spend money. Meanwhile, government grabs a huge share of the profits generated by small businesses. It piles on opaque regulations, complex tax rules and countless independent agencies, producing a system that works against small businesses and the middle class. The Affordable Care Act takes pains to exempt Congress, government, corporations and unions, but leaves the rest severely exposed, adding to inequality.

This week’s congressional budget deal saw a narrow group of Washington’s elite legislators and lobbyists working over the weekend to divvy up nearly $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending for 2014. Much of the spending and all of the lobbying and debt underwriting costs will benefit those with high incomes while the extra debt falls heavily on the middle class.

Thus while Our Betters in D.C. and Manhattan and Hollywood graciously deign to run our lives for us (when they’re not attending a fancy-dress ball or jetting off to another exclusive resort), the burdens they impose on our lives really just enrich their friends at our expense and leave us holding the bag.

There’s a genuine opening or moment for a populist revolt coming. Not the Left-wing, class warfare kind the progressives like to sucker us with (and for which far too many fall), but a Jacksonian, democratizing electoral uprising against governing elites represented largely, but not exclusively, by today’s Democratic Party. A rising that would restore opportunity for us all, not trap us like Europe in social democratic amber.

We saw the first wave of this with the Tea Party rising of 2010, and Obamacare creates the conditions for another. The question is, will the Republican Party have the sense and the skill to take advantage of it?

We’ll see.

Footnote:
(1) Okay, I’m done pouting. Really. Just wait’ll next year…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


More Bad News from Government-Run Education: The Corrosive Centralization of Common Core

January 17, 2014

Just what our over-bureaucratized, union dominated schools need: more centralization and control from distant masters not responsible to the people.

International Liberty

I’ve posted hundreds of charts over the past several years, including on favorite topics such as tax code corruption and counterproductive government spending.

But arguably the most powerful and compelling chart I’ve ever shared is on the topic of education. Prepared by my Cato colleague, Andrew Coulson, it shows that massive increases in spending and bureaucracy (which accompanied increasing federal involvement and intervention) have had zero impact on educational performance.

Keep that chart in the back of your mind as we consider what George Will has to say about President Obama’s scheme – known as Common Core – to expand federal involvement and intervention.

We have several excerpts, beginning with this passage outlining some of his concerns.

Common Core…is the thin end of an enormous wedge. It is designed to advance in primary and secondary education the general progressive agenda of centralization and uniformity. …proponents of the Common Core want its…

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Introducing the 2013 Federal Register: Last year’s 80,000 pages worth of **job-creating rules & regs

January 12, 2014

Only 80,000 pages. The government must be slacking…


#Obamacare Follies: Calorie info on all vending machines

January 3, 2014
"Does Nanny approve?"

“Does Nanny approve?”

Nancy Pelosi once said we’d have to pass the ACA bill in order to find out what’s in it. The latest escapee from Pandora’s box? Vending machine operators across the nation now must display calorie information for every item stocked on each and every machine.

That’s about five million machines, btw:

The rules will apply to about 10,800 companies that operate 20 or more machines. Nearly three quarters of those companies have three or fewer employees, and their profit margin is extremely low, according to the National Automatic Merchandising Association. An initial investment of $2,400 plus $2,200 in annual costs is a lot of money for a small company that only clears a few thousand dollars a year, said Eric Dell, the group’s vice president for government affairs.

“The money that would be spent to comply with this — there’s no return on the investment,” he said.

“Return on investment?” Don’t you know the State has a higher purpose in mind than your grubby profits, you capitalist-roader kulak? Prepare for liquidation!!

(Ahem.)

Carol Brennan, who owns Brennan Food Vending Services in Londonderry, said she doesn’t yet know how she will handle the regulations, but she doesn’t like them. She has five employees servicing hundreds of machines and says she’ll be forced to limit the items offered so her employees don’t spend too much time updating the calorie counts.

“It is outrageous for us to have to do this on all our equipment,” she said.

Brennan also doubts that consumers will benefit from the calorie information.

“How many people have not read a label on a candy bar?” she said. “If you’re concerned about it, you’ve already read it for years.”

But Kim Gould, 58, of Seattle, said he doesn’t read the labels even after his choice pops out of a vending machine, so having access to that information wouldn’t change what he buys.

That last line is the key, in my mind. I’ve learned from the Real World Job that most people will ignore signs, especially if it’s providing information they already know, such as “that pack of sugared donuts probably isn’t good for you, even if you are drinking a diet soda.” If they’re interested in the information, it’s already printed on the product. If they’re not, adding another warning label for them to ignore when they’re hungry isn’t going to change much at all, certainly not enough to justify the non-productive compliance costs. (If I have to sink more money into obeying regulations, then I have less to hire more people if my business does well. Economics, progressives. You should try learning it sometime.)

But shouldn’t all this be the individual’s business,  in any event? We know roughly which foods are good for us and which aren’t, and that too much of almost anything is bad. But if I choose to have that Three Musketeers bar, I don’t need the government hanging over me like a nag and a scold, and I don’t need them forcing vendors to raise prices to compensate for the government’s useless, onerous rules. This is another example of the infantilization of the citizen through the cancerous growth of the State, as it claims jurisdiction over anything even remotely tied to health.

A recent survey showed a record number of Americans — 72%! –feel government is a bigger threat to the United States than Big Business or Big Labor.

And it’s finding out just what’s in the ACA that’s convincing them.

via Jim Geraghty (Be sure to read the rest — it’s an eye-opener.)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) #Obamacare – “Victims of government” UPDATED: Gateway Pundit to lose his insurance

December 12, 2013

From Senator Ron Johnson* (R- WI), the story of Kathi Rose, a minister in Wisconsin who learned she was losing the health insurance she was satisfied with and that replacing it would cost her roughly $4,000 per year more. This is helping people? Making them “more secure?”

As Johnson points out in the video, this is not only a financial hardship for Kathi and her family, but also an invasion of their liberty and a threat to the health of her family. This is just one example of a story being played out again and again across the nation and illustrates once more why this anti-constitutional monstrosity has to be repealed.

*A freshman, elected in the “Tea Party” class of 2010. And one of the very good candidates we found that year. Turned out to be a good senator, too.

via Ben Howe

RELATED: Nearer to home for many of us is the story of Jim Hoft, aka “Gateway Pundit,” who suffered a near-fatal disease earlier, but was saved by the excellent care paid for by his insurance — care he still needs. Guess what? Jim is losing his insurance and may lose the doctors he trusts. To quote Jim, “Why is our government doing this to us?”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Iran can go on enriching, but music teachers must be stopped

December 7, 2013

music teacher violin

And you guys worry about Iran getting nuclear weapons? Fools! Thank God the FTC is there to protect us from the danger of unregulated violin instructors!

The Federal Trade Commission was created in 1914 in the age of oil barons and rail tycoons to bust the big trusts. Today, it’s busting a smaller enterprise – the Music Teachers National Association.

Last March, the FTC sent notice to the MTNA that it was under investigation for “anti-competitive practices.” At issue: a passage in the trade association’s ethics code that says teachers should not actively recruit from other teachers.

“We feel that that provision not only protects the students but ensures that teachers are going to get along well with their colleagues, ” says Gary Ingle, the MTNA’s executive director. 

Ingle says it’s a method of avoiding the rare conflict, where, for example, an accomplished student pianist may be approached after a competition by a rival instructor who promises to help the student win the next competition.

The FTC sees it as a threat to America’s consumers. 

There’s nothing in the rules that prevents a student from seeking out another teacher on their own, of course, and the FTC hasn’t shown how anyone has been harmed by a rule that prevents teachers from poaching each other’s students, but, apparently some bored bureaucrat decided that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE about this clear and present danger.

The MTNA has removed the rule while it figures out how to respond to the FTC’s investigation. So far, it’s amounted to a waste of member’s dues:

MTNA’s Ingle says that’s already happening. His 12-member staff in Cincinnati, Ohio has had to compile 17 years worth of records, including its by-laws, ethics code, journals, finances and membership to satisfy the FTC’s demands.

Sounds like what the IRS did to conservative groups, no? Beat them into submission by hitting them with burdensome documentation demands — and legal fees, should the group decide it needs representation.

Obama’s America: Where nothing is beneath the Federal government’s notice, except Iranian nukes.

via reader Lance

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A Government Database about our Sex Lives: Gee, What Could Go Wrong?

September 21, 2013

And you can rest assured the NSA would never illegally tap into this. Really. Oh, stop laughing.

International Liberty

I’ve shared several videos that make the case against Obamacare.

Here’s one narrated by a Dutch woman warning that America shouldn’t repeat the mistakes of European government-run healthcare.

Here’s one from Reason TV about how free markets produce lower healthcare costs.

Here’s one explaining the need to deal with the government-caused third-party-payer crisis.

And I had to reluctantly admit that even one of Karl Rove’s group produced an effective video on Obamacare harming young people.

I think all of those videos are well done and contain critical information, but I suspect the humor in this clever video may change even more minds. Or at least it will be more widely watched.

Fortunately, the creepy Uncle Sam is only symbolic at this stage. While Obama probably would prefer a single-payer system like the one in the United Kingdom, where doctors and other medical personnel actually are government bureaucrats, the immediate danger…

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The potential threat to liberty in driverless cars

September 3, 2013
And he's driving, too.

And he’s driving, too.

Yesterday, I wrote about the European Union proposal to mandate speed governors on all cars, which would be automated to force a driver to slow down, should he exceed the legal speed limit. As an aside, I mentioned the trend toward driverless cars and the potential for state control of those.  (And hacking, let’s be honest. But that’s another issue.)

Jonah Goldberg thought along the same lines this morning and imagined some of the “fun” we could have:

Let’s be fair: The experts aren’t always wrong, and even when they’re wrong, their arguments aren’t necessarily unreasonable given their assumptions. But if you follow the logic of mandatory seatbelts and motorcycle helmets, red-light cameras and anti-texting laws (1) to their natural conclusion, it’s easy to imagine that some bureaucrats will want to co-author your car’s software.

And then what? Will you ever be allowed to go over the speed limit again? Police are already drooling to see our GPS data. Will that become automatic too? Will the cops have the power to tell your car to stop whether you want it to or not? Will authorities be able to tell your car to take a detour to alleviate traffic? Make it turn around when it gets too close to certain off-limit areas?

Whoever thought that driving your own car could be the next “live free or die” moment?

Footnote:
(1) I am, however, strongly in favor of laws against cell phone use and texting while driving, having nearly been run down several times by people paying more attention to their phone than to the road. Studies show phoning while driving is as impairing as driving while drunk. And texting isn’t much better.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


European Union to put speed limiters on all cars?

September 2, 2013
I said, no fun allowed!

Nanny says “Slow down!”

The world’s biggest nanny-state has decided that too many people are dying on Europe’s highways. Rather than leave that problem up to the member nations, the Euro-mandarins in Brussels have proposed to put speed-limiters, some of them satellite-controlled, on all cars. Go too fast, and Nanny puts on the brakes:

Under the proposals new cars would be fitted with cameras that could read road speed limit signs and automatically apply the brakes when this is exceeded.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, is said to be opposed to the plans, which could also mean existing cars are sent to garages to be fitted with the speed limiters, preventing them from going over 70mph.

The new measures have been announced by the European Commission’s Mobility and Transport Department as a measure to reduce the 30,000 people who die on the roads in Europe every year.

A Government source told the Mail on Sunday Mr McLoughlin had instructed officials to block the move because they ‘violated’ motorists’ freedom. They said: “This has Big Brother written all over it and is exactly the sort of thing that gets people’s backs up about Brussels.

“The Commission wanted his views ahead of plans to publish the proposals this autumn. He made it very clear what those views were.”

I’d like to think the minister illustrated his point with the traditional English two-finger salute. And this should be really popular in Germany, where the “need for speed” on the autobahns is a well-known national trait. So, what’s next? EU directives on how one shall cut one’s steak, with a minder showing up to measure each piece with calipers to make sure it isn’t too large?

This is another illustration of the control-freak nature of the Left (1): it’s not enough to set speed limits and levy fines for violating them, nor even to suspend driving privileges for repeat violations. Nope, they have to stand over you constantly lest you pass the bounds of what they determine to be proper. Go too fast, and Nanny will make you slow down.

Democrats in Washington and Sacramento must be green with envy.

Afterthought: Speaking of which, driverless cars are on the way. Who needs speed limiters when bureaucrats can control the whole vehicle? (2)

via David Burge

Footnotes:
(1) The whole European Union government is a statist paradise. The small-government, liberty-of-the-individual politician is a rare sight.
(2) Please. It’s only a matter of time before some progressive genius decides driverless vehicles should have Internet-based governors on them. For your own good, of course.

RELATED: Dan Mitchell make this part of his question of the week – “What’s More Worrisome, Big Brother Monitoring Where You Drive or Big Brother Controlling How You Drive?”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#IRS: Going after veterans’ groups?

August 28, 2013
"Thanks for your service?"

“Thanks for your service?”

Well, here’s a surprise (he wrote in sarcasm): while harassing Tea Party and other conservative groups –and interfering with their ability to participate in the 2012 elections, coincidentally enough– our public servants in the IRS decided it would be a good idea to audit veterans organizations, the members of which are largely opposed to the Obama administration.

Coincidentally.

From The Army Times:

A Kansas senator wants the IRS to explain why veterans groups are being asked to prove their members actually served in the military.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said he is “troubled” by an IRS rule that could make veterans service organizations provide DD-214 separation documents “for every member at posts around the country.”

The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans group, has about 2.4 million members and 14,000 posts. Veterans of Foreign Wars, with 1.5 million members, is the nation’s second largest veterans group. It has more than 7,600 chapters

The policy that has Moran and others excited was published in January 2011 in an Internal Revenue Service Manual chapter covering tax-exempt veterans’ service organizations. Apparently, the policy is just now getting attention from veterans’ groups.

The tax code sets requirements for veterans groups to qualify for exempt status; for example, 75% must be current or former members of the Armed Services. That’s reasonable enough, but what has Moran and others up in arms is the apparent lack of notification to these groups that they have to provide DD-214s and that failure to comply can mean fines of up to $1,000 per day.

As you can imagine, American Legion, VFW, and other groups are pretty upset, and Moran has some questions for IRS Acting Commissioner Werfel that he wants answered. Now.

From Bridget Johnson at PJM:

  • What legal authority does the IRS have in carrying out a mandate for personal, military service records? Was this mandate reviewed by IRS general counsel? Please provide documentation that gives the IRS the authority to collect this information;
  • Under whose leadership was this mandate initiated, for what direct purpose, and who had approving authority for this mandate?;
  • Were veteran service organizations ever specifically notified of the requirement? If so, please provide the documentation that was issued to these organizations. If not, please explain why organizations were not notified; and
  • Is it true that an organization unable or unwilling to provide this information could be charged penalty fees of $1,000 per day? Please provide clarification regarding the penalty for noncompliance.

I can see auditing groups about which there have been reports of fraud. But that would be on an individual, case-by-case basis when there’s been credible reports of a violation. But this kind of blanket “prove to us you’re not doing anything wrong” sweep looks like more of the “We don’t like small-government/conservative types, so we’re going to make their lives miserable” arrogance that we’ve seen plenty of already from our “Lois Lerner” bureaucracy. Rather than a conspiracy, it seems like Leviathan has developed an attitude problem towards their bosses — us.

And it looks like an attitude adjustment is in order.

PS: But I do want to thank the IRS for handing every Republican candidate in veteran-heavy areas even more wonderful material for campaign commercials. You guys are the bestest!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)