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

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’ll take Option C, “neither.”

Originally posted on 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

Phineas Fahrquar:

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

Originally posted on 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

Phineas Fahrquar:

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.

Originally posted on 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

Phineas Fahrquar:

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

Originally posted on 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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