Welfare, Taxes, the Nanny State, and Supply-Side Economics

March 10, 2017

Remember, welfare traps people in poverty. It’s not a hand helping you up: it’s a hand grabbing your ankle and holding you back.

International Liberty

What’s the right way to define good tax policy? There are several possible answers to that question, including the all-important observation that the goal should be to only collect the amount of revenue needed to finance the legitimate functions of government, and not one penny above that amount.

But what if we want a more targeted definition? A simple principle to shape our understanding of tax policy?

I’m partial to what I wrote last year.

the essential insight of supply-side economics…when you tax something, you get less of it.

I’m not claiming this is my idea, by the way. It’s been around for a long time.

Indeed, it’s rumored that Reagan shared a version of this wisdom.

I don’t know if the Gipper actually said those exact words, but his grasp of tax policy was very impressive. And the changes he made led to very good results

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Statism: Obama’s theory of government

February 21, 2012

Peter Wehner had a good post in Commentary last week that, while talking about Obama’s latest risible budget proposal, neatly encapsulates the statist, progressive view of the relationship between the citizen and the State, Obama’s theory of government:

These numbers are important, but they need to be understood above all as a manifestation of a particular philosophy, which some have called reactionary liberalism. Barack Obama has an almost undiluted attachment for and belief in the wondrous powers of the federal government. He believes the role of the state is to redistribute wealth and level out differences. He would trade off greater prosperity in all classes and income brackets in order to narrow the gap in income inequality, which he considers to be a moral offense. Obama wants to punish wealth creators, empower unelected bureaucrats, undermine private enterprise and centralize power.

Beyond even that, Obama wants government to weaken, and eventually replace, civil society, create greater dependency, and expand the state’s reach into every nook and cranny of life, including into the internal life of the church. And at a time when Medicare in particular is driving us toward a Greece-like crisis, the president opposes any modernization of our entitlement state and savages those who are offering up reforms.

More than any president in our lifetime, Barack Obama identifies the state with society and wants society absorbed by the state.

(Emphasis added)

Wehner calls it “reactionary liberalism,” (1) but I think Goldberg (channeling H. G. Wells) names it best: “Liberal Fascism.” The State becomes the arbiter of a vague “Will of the People” (or “Spirit of the Nation,” or whatever), speaking for the collective and knowing better than the individual what the individual needs, for the good of the whole. Forget the goosestepping images of Nazis or Mussolini’s Blackshirts, and put side the insane racial nonsense the National Socialists added to Fascism; reactionary liberalism/liberal fascism can come with a warm smile and a motherly embrace, promising all sorts of wonderful things, if only you’ll be good and let Nanny State make the choices for you.

It is the infantilization of the individual citizen.

And it would be so easy to say “yes,” which is why, in 2012, we have to say “no.”

RELATED: In a later post, Wehner cites another example, that of Nancy Pelosi’s opinion on the HHS mandate and the proper response of religious organizations: “Shut up and obey.

Footnote:
(1) Although, really, the most reactionary people I’ve ever met have been supposedly broadminded liberals. Mildly challenge even one of their dearly held dogmas (such as the success of the New Deal or the desirability of abortion on demand), and many go into full frothing-and-shrieking mode. It’s almost Pavlovian.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Dear Rick Santorum: Get your hands off my slot machine

February 17, 2012

Sigh. There are just no limited-government conservatives left in this race, are there? We all know about Mitt Romney and the indefensible individual mandate in RomneyCare. So, fine, we’ll just vote for the true conservative in the race, the man who savagely and effectively attacked Romney’s legacy, Rick Santorum, right? Right?

Ehh… Not so fast.

From an interview with Nevada journalist Jon Ralston, per Jim Geraghty:

I’m someone who takes the opinion that gaming is not something that is beneficial, particularly having that access on the Internet. Just as we’ve seen from a lot of other things that are vices on the Internet, they end to grow exponentially as a result of that. It’s one thing to come to Las Vegas and do gaming and participate in the shows and that kind of thing as entertainment, it’s another thing to sit in your home and have access to that it. I think it would be dangerous to our country to have that type of access to gaming on the Internet.

Freedom’s not absolute. What rights in the Constitution are absolute? There is no right to absolute freedom. There are limitations. You might want to say the same thing about a whole variety of other things that are on the Internet — “let everybody have it, let everybody do it.” No. There are certain things that actually do cost people a lot of money, cost them their lives, cost them their fortunes that we shouldn’t have and make available, to make it that easy to do. That’s why we regulate gambling. You have a big commission here that regulates gambling, for a reason.

I opposed gaming in Pennsylvania . . . A lot of people obviously don’t responsibly gamble and lose a lot and end up in not so great economic straits as a result of that. I believe there should be limitations.

Now, in one sense, Nanny Senator Santorum is right: freedom isn’t absolute. We have freedom of speech, but we cannot yell “fire!” in a crowded theater. We have freedom of religious practice, but no one advocates allowing human sacrifice as part of the service. (I hope.) Individual liberty generally meets its bounds where it endangers public safety or impinges on the rights of another. (1)

There are indeed limits.

But that’s not what Santorum is talking about here. He’s speaking in terms of a more moderate social cost (e.g., the damage done to a family by a gambling addiction) or simply the harm it might do to the individual person. And there’s the problem. As Allahpundit puts it:

You could swap in “drinking” for “gambling” there and have a rough argument for banning alcohol consumption in homes. (If you’re free to indulge in private, who’ll stop you from going overboard?) If you nominate Santorum, you’re getting a guy who’s more willing to try to save people from themselves than the average “personal responsibility” conservative, which means you’d better prepare for occasional moral tutelage from the presidential podium and maybe some new morals regulations if he can cobble together a congressional majority for it.

And for gambling or drinking, one could substitute all sorts private activities. Like to smoke? Want to order pipe tobacco or cigars from that great shop across the country? Hey, that stuff’s bad for you, bud! Want to watch an “adult” movie on late-night cable? President Santorum doesn’t think that’s “beneficial,” so he’s going to push Congress to regulate it.

Or what about credit card debt? Yes, there’s a real problem with people who wreck their finances abusing credit, but is it the government’s responsibility to protect us from ourselves? Would a President Santorum seek to limit us all to certain debt-to-income ratios? Do we get a “conservative” version of Dodd-Frank?

I’ll confess, it’s getting harder and harder to see much of an effective difference between the progressive liberal, Obama, and Rick Santorum, the self-proclaimed progressive conservative. Nannying is nannying, and statism is statism.

So, what does this mean for the election and how I’ll vote? I’ve said before that I’ll vote for any of the three serious potential Republican nominees over Obama, because I think any of them would be better than a second Obama term. But Santorum is making it much harder for me to be comfortable voting for him. If it is none of government’s business what health insurance I carry, neither is it their business if I choose to play some online poker — or a lot of online poker.

I’ve said before that I’ve decided to concentrate more on electing as conservative a Congress as possible (2) to rein in the big-government urges of whichever person is elected president. But this latest from Santorum has me thinking Romney would be the best choice for limited government conservatives.

Wait! I can explain! Put down the baseball bat!

Look at it this way: I’m convinced Mitt Romney has few set-in-stone principles and is more of a pragmatic problem-solver,willing to do what it takes to get the job done. In electoral races, that means he… “adjusts” his positions to fit what his target audience wants. In office, it means he works with whatever faction dominates the legislature to produce an accomplishment. In the end, this is a guy whose overriding urge is to be seen as successful. He is a tree that bends whichever way the prevailing wind blows.

Thus I’ve come to think that a President Romney would be open to the goals of limited government conservatism if he were faced with a Congress dominated by strong limited government, Tea Party factions in both chambers pressuring him from the Right. And he would be open to this influence in a way that a strongly principled social nanny-stater like Rick Santorum would never be.

Yep. It’s a “lesser of two evils” choice. Fun, eh?

Footnotes:
(1) Another illustration of why I’ll never be a “Big L” libertarian; the ones I’ve met tend to take annoyingly absolutist positions.
(2) Want to help California “right” it’s ship of state? Check out Elizabeth Emken, who’s running for the nomination to face Senator Feinstein in November.

PS: When you think about it, Rick Santorum has something in common with Melinda Henneberger.

RELATED: More from Bruce McQuain at The Conservatory. A rebuttal at Protein Wisdom.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Entitlement spending as vote-buying heroin

January 27, 2012

Liberals decry all the corporate money in politics, while conservatives worry that President Obama plans to spend a billion dollars to fund his reelection campaign.

Bill Whittle calls that “chump change.”

In another of his Firewall videos, Bill examines what he calls “The Vote Pump:” the money the federal government can use to make sure you vote the way the statists want. It’s eye-opening, to say the least.

Interesting, isn’t it? We currently take in more than enough revenue to fund the actual government (setting aside for the moment how many of those are legitimate functions), but what’s killing us is the nearly 60% of all federal spending that goes toward entitlements.

And it’s a percentage that, under current conditions, is only going to go up as the population ages.

Bill calls this a vote pump — money in, votes out. I think of it more as a form of economic heroin: give people “free money” and make them dependent, afraid to give it up. And, no matter how much they realize intellectually that the system is unsustainable and bad for the nation, that fear will lead most to vote to keep in power those who promise to keep the smack coming — the statists, whether Democrat or Republican.

It’s as de Tocqueville once wrote:

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money. (1)

So when conservatives mock Gingrich for proposing a lunar base (“Too expensive!!”) or lefties decry all the money for the military (“Think of the children!!”), just take another look at Whittle’s chart and remind yourself of what the real problem is.

And then look at Greece to see where it will lead.

Footnote:
(1) Arguably misattributed.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Plant a garden, go to jail

August 4, 2011

Oh, the evil of people trying to be self-sufficient, and the obscenity of doing it in public — in front of the neighbors!!

Presenting Reason.TV‘s Nanny of the Month: Oak Park, Michigan, official Kevin Rulkowski, whose objection to Julie Bass’ front-yard garden might cost her 93 days in jail.

Now, I’m not wholly without sympathy for Mr. Rulkowski; I was taught in real estate classes that uniformity in look helps maintain house prices, and I’m sure many of us have had to suffer with neighbors who park junk vehicles on their front lawns or paint their houses garish, eye-hurting colors. (Such as the bright orange house with black trim near me.) So I can see some reason to sensible zoning regulations.

But a garden? Really? Jail time? Seriously??

Rulkowski should leave Ms. Bass and her garden alone and concentrate on a real problem — such as rogue lemonade stands.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Small victory in the Lemonade Stand War

August 3, 2011

Seeing a chance to strike a blow for freedom, capitalism,  and oppressed child-lemonade vendors everywhere (as well as earn some good press), the people who run the Jekyll Island resort invited the girls who had their stand shut down by Marietta authorities to reopen their business on the island:

The Jekyll Island Authority invited the girls from Midway — 14-year-old Kasity Dixon, 12-year-old Tiffany Cassin and 10-year-old Skylar Roberts — to sell their lemonade at Summer Waves Water Park at the island state park. Island officials said the girls planned to be there Sunday.

The offer came after Midway police forced the girls to shut down their lemonade stand earlier this month. Police said the girls needed a business license, a peddler’s permit and a food permit to sell drinks, even in their own yard.

Jekyll Island staff not only invited the girls, but built them a new lemonade stand.

Bravo, JIA!

LINKS: Earlier posts in the Great Lemonade Stand War.

PS: In case you wonder why I harp on this issue, stupidity needs all the laughing, pointing, and mockery it can get. And these stompings of young kids’ fun are so mind-numbingly dumb that I can’t not mock them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Lemonade stands! My God, they’re everywhere!!!

August 3, 2011

The news is grim, friends. I thought we had the threat contained to the Eastern seaboard (with that one tragic outbreak in Oregon), but it’s spread all the way to the heartland of America: a four-year old girl was operating a lemonade stand in Iowa… brace yourselves… without a license!

The horror:

Police closed down a lemonade stand in Coralville last week, telling its 4-year-old operator and her dad that she didn’t have a permit.

An officer told Abigail Krutsinger’s father Friday that she couldn’t run the stand as RAGBRAI bicyclers poured into Coralville.

I mean, think what would have happened if the police hadn’t been there to shut down this rogue preschooler’s citrusy speakeasy? No business permit? The city wouldn’t get its cut! The consequences of no health inspection? Are you willing to risk an outbreak of cooties??

Whew! That was close!

Thank God the regulatory state that our dedicated public servants bureaucratic betters were on the job.

PS: Have you noticed that all these accused lemonade bootleggers have been girls? I smell a conspiracy…

PPS: Iowa, eh? I wonder where the candidates stand on the Lemonade Menace? Romney probably has his finger in the wind even now.

LINKS: Prior posts in the War Against Lemonade Stands. E.D. Kain at Forbes has noticed the war, too, and brings the news that August 20th is National Lemonade Freedom Day.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The war on kids’ lemonade stands marches on

July 15, 2011

Nanny says, no fun allowed!

What is it with petty bureaucrats and children who want to make a few bucks? Is it a form of bullying? Should we alert Michelle Obama? Now a couple of martinets in Georgia have busted up a speakeasy are the latest warriors in the desperate fight against lemonade stands:

The girls had been operating for one day when Midway’s police chief and another officer cruised by. They had been trying to earn enough money to go to a water park.

The girls needed a business license, peddler’s permit and food permit to operate, even on residential property. The permits cost $50 a day or $180 per year.

Midway Police Chief Kelly Morningstar says police didn’t know how the lemonade was made, who made it or what was in it.

Thank God the cops intervened when they did; who knows how many unsuspecting people might have bought a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day from girls who were —gasp!— unlicensed?

Really, what’s more “Norman Rockwell’s America” than some kids starting up a front-yard business? Like newspaper routes and washing cars, it gives a sense of responsibility, self-reliance, accomplishment, and teaches a little bit about business and capitalism. And shouldn’t we be happy that these girls wanted to earn the money on their own, rather than ask their parents for it?

Instead, they get a lesson in the dead hand of the State.

In the end, the young entrepreneurs took down their stand and did chores for the money, but they should never have had to. As much as I’m annoyed with the cops for not just showing some common sense (and maybe buying a glass or two), the idiots who passed these regulations need an educational kick in the keester. It’s one thing to regulate an adult’s business for health and safety reasons… but this?

What’s next? No kite-flying without filing a flight plan?

RELATED: Earlier posts on the Lemonade Stand War.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Presenting the Nanny of the Month for June, 2011

July 2, 2011

This is one case where I was ahead of the good folks at Reason.TV. The Nanny of the Month award-winner for June is the Montgomery County, MD, bureaucrat who fined children $500 for running a lemonade stand without a permit:

I covered the story a couple of weeks ago, but now, having seen the video, don’t those kids look like dangerous scofflaws?

And this wasn’t the first time the government has gone after lemonade stands run by cute kids.

I suspect a conspiracy. Or stupidity.

Definitely stupidity.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The war on lemonade stands

June 17, 2011

What is it with petty little bureaucrats and children’s lemonade stands? First it was some martinet in Oregon who made a 7-year old girl cry, and now a county inspector in Maryland not only shut down some kids’ stand, but he fined their parents $500:

You can make a fortune selling parking spots outside the US Open, but don’t even dream of setting up a lemonade stand.

A county inspector ordered the Marriott and Augustine kids to shut down the stand they set up on Persimmon Tree Rd, right next to Congressional. And after they allegedly ignored a couple of warnings, the inspector fined their parents $500.

“This gentleman from the county is now telling us because we don’t have a vendors license, the kids won’t be allowed to sell their lemonade,” Carrie Marriott told us, her voice trembling.

The kids can’t seem to understand it. “I don’t agree, I think the county is wrong.” “We’re sending the money to charity.”

A county official claimed there was some sort of risk because of traffic in the area, but the fact is that any vendor in the county, even a child selling ice-cold lemonade from his front lawn, has to register and get a license.

Give me a break. Is common sense that alien to government?

And yes, that was a rhetorical question.

via Tim Carney

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Carolina’s Nanny-Stater of the Month

June 1, 2011

Yes, this month’s award goes to a busybody in the backyard of my blog-buddy, ST. Now, you may think you want your hamburger rare or medium-rare (1). You might even be looking forward to it.

Well, forget it! Nanny knows best what you can eat, so nothing less than (flavorless) medium for you, Bub!

Presenting Reason.TV‘s Nanny of the Month for May 2011, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources:

Thank goodness the State is there to make the choices we can’t be trusted with. 

(1) FWIW, I’m a “rare side of medium-rare” kind of guy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Nanny says, “No lunches from home!”

May 3, 2011

There were several good competitors for Reason.tv’s “Nanny of the Month” award, but the judges had no choice but to give it to a woman who embodies the spirit of “minding everyone else’s business:” Elsa Carmona, a school principal in Chicago who has forbidden students from bringing lunch from home:

I’d be real curious to know what, if any, connections she has to the company that supplies the school’s lunches.

Or maybe she was just jealous that she never had a Pokemon lunch box.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why California is circling the drain, fitted sheets edition

April 21, 2011

So, let’s think about this for a minute. California’s economy is in the dumps — if the nation is in a recession, we’re in a depression. Businesses(1) are fleeing the state because the cost of doing business here (taxes, regulations) are too darned high.  We have a $25 billion dollar deficit and we’re facing massive unfunded obligations on public-employee pensions, which are only growing. If we were a separate country, we’d make Greece look like Switzerland.

So, what does our legislature do? Focus all its efforts on our fiscal and economic mess? Bend every effort to bring businesses back to California?

What have you been drinking?

Nope. Our state senate is even now considering a bill to deal with the top problem facing California today: the lack of fitted sheets in hotel rooms:

The bill, SB 432, calls for hotels to use fitted sheets that require less lifting of mattresses weighing up to 100 pounds than traditional flat sheets.

It also calls for hotels to use mops and long-handled tools so that housekeepers would no longer have to stoop or kneel to scrub bathrooms and floors.

The measure was introduced by state Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and backed by the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association and the hotel workers union, UNITE HERE.

Naturally, the bill’s proponents brought to the hearing witnesses to testify about how they’ve suffered having to lift mattresses and scrub toilets.  And there are studies that purport to show a higher rate of injury for hotel cleaning staff than the national average, though I’d want to check their work before taking their findings as holy writ(2). Nor am I unsympathetic to manual laborers, especially janitorial, work which I used to do. It can be wearing.

But, when the state’s economy is such a wreck, it seems counterproductive at best to impose new costs on businesses, costs that will either be passed on to the consumer(3) or balanced by hiring fewer workers — or both. As a local hotel association has argued:

The California Hotel & Lodging Association has said the fitted-sheet mandate alone will cost the industry across the state at least $15 million.

Hyatt Grand Champions GM Allan Farwell said their property, and many others in the desert, would have to replace flat linens if the measure is approved, as would many other local resorts and hotels.

Julius Kazen, president of the Palm Springs Hospitality Association, said the measure, besides posing an economic burden to properties, also would set dangerous precedent.

“It’s not the government’s place to get involved in the intricacies of our industry,” he said.

And it’s not just the big, evil, corporate hotel chains that would be affected by this (and could more easily absorb the costs), but small businesses, too: Mom-and-Pop motels started by immigrant families, or bed-and-breakfasts run by people seeking a second career — these would face higher costs and would thus be less likely to hire more help.

But Kazen makes a key point at the end of that last quote: it isn’t government’s place to regulate the minutiae of how a business operates. Granted, states have been assumed to have a general police power since the foundation of the Republic, so I have little doubt that Sacramento has the authority to pass this bill.

But it isn’t wise. Not when we have so many more pressing matters to deal with and not when we should be doing everything to make it easier for businesses to operate here, not to drive them away. Nor should we be taking on additional regulatory expenses.

On a more philosophical note, this is also a wrong-headed intrusion of government into places it doesn’t belong, even if it has the authority to go there. If the legislature can mandate the types of sheets and housecleaning tools used in a business, how long will it be before they see a need to save us from ourselves and mandate what kind of sheets and tools we can use in our own homes? This is another case of Nanny State minding our own business.

If there’s a problem with working conditions, then the hotel workers should agitate through their unions with their employers to get better conditions. If there’s an on-the-job injury, California has a strong Worker’s Comp program.  But, beyond that, the state should just stay out.

And legislators should worry about the state’s balance sheet, not a hotel’s bedsheets.

via Baseball Crank

LINKS: Here’s the text of the bill. Note that the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association is a grouping of worker’s comp attorneys, and thus hardly disinterested. State Senator de Leon represents the same district that used to elect leftists Jackie Goldberg and Gil Cedillo. He’s also been a member of the California Teachers Association and worked for the NEA. With that, you can imagine his opinion of the proper role of the state.

TANGENTS:

(1) You know, those evil things that create jobs.

(2) I mean, one originated with a labor institute at Berkeley. Yeah, I’ll trust in their objectivity.

(3) Who may then decide to spend less, or not come at all, reminding us that increasing costs lowers revenues. Something Sacramento should learn.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


I dare the Democrats to run on this in 2012

April 8, 2011

Since Rep. Paul Ryan released his 2012 budget plan, the Democrats have been on the attack, charging that Republicans want to deny medical care to children, starve the elderly and generally bring about the end of the world. You know, the usual reactionary rhetoric they use to avoid adult conversations on serious issues, because they have no ideas of their own.

Well, that will change next week, when the Congressional Progressive Caucus, aka “The Socialist Wing of the (Social) Democratic Party,” will release their own budget plan:

To extend the long-term solvency of Social Security, it would propose dramatically increasing payroll taxes on both the employer and employee side, and funneling the money into even more generous benefits.

Payroll taxes are economically destructive, because they make it more expensive for employers to hire new workers, meaning lower real wages and higher unemployment.

Yet the tax increases wouldn’t end there. The People’s Budget would rescind last year’s tax deal to raise rates on higher income levels, boost taxes on capital gains and dividends, increase the estate tax, institute three “millionaire tax rates,” with the highest reaching 47 percent, tax corporate foreign income, impose a “financial crisis responsibility fee,” and institute a “financial speculation tax.”

Overall, taxes would rise to 22.3 percent of the economy, compared with 18.3 percent under the Ryan proposal.

The plan would also build on Obama’s most notable initiatives. It includes an additional $1.45 trillion in economic stimulus spending. On health care, the plan would add a government-run plan, or “public option,” to Obamacare and have the government negotiate drug prices.

Yet while other parts of government would grow, the defense budget would be gutted. The proposal would “reduce baseline defense spending by reducing strategic capabilities, conventional forces, procurement, and R&D programs.”

I hope they do it, and I hope their party leadership adopts it. Then we’ll at last have an honest argument about the vision the two parties have for the future of America. Go ahead, Democrats, make this plan your own. Let 2012 be a battle between Paul Ryan’s “budget for mature adults who can see the edge of the cliff coming” and the CPC’s “Berkeley Bong Budget.”

I beg you: try to sell the nation another fairy tale.

And I’ll thank you in advance for the Republican landslide in 2012.

via Moe Lane

LINKS: More from QandO

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


“We will promote free choice by limiting free choice!”

March 28, 2011

If that doesn’t make sense to you, well, it doesn’t to me, either. It apparently makes some sort of sense to LA City Councilman Bernard Parks, however, who helped push through a ban on new fast-food businesses in two districts of south Los Angeles. Why? Well because there are too many fast-food places in that area already (in Parks’ view) and, by limiting the “overabundance,” they’ll encourage more sit-down restaurants with healthier food.

Yeah, that sounds like nanny-stater nonsense to me, too. And it did to the crew at Reason.TV, who went out and shot this short doumentary:

Parks’ logic fall apart on several grounds. First, if he wants more sit-down restaurants in those districts, then create the conditions that will encourage them to set up shop. They’re not staying away because there are too many McDonalds; they’re staying away because it’s a low-income area with a high crime rate, so the cost of business is too high for these chains. Improve the local economy, improve public safety, and you’ll find more “nice” places.

Second, what has Parks got against small business? These aren’t all McDonalds and Taco Bell. Many of the small fast-food joints are individual Mom-and-Pop small businesses that provide cheap, quick food at affordable prices to the locals. They also provide jobs for the down-on-their-luck who might not get hired by the chains. By blocking any more small fast-food businesses, Parks and the Council cut off a source of jobs for an area already suffering from at least 14% unemployment.

Finally, the nutrition angle is bunk. As the video shows, the “junk count” at chain sit-down restaurants can be as bad or worse than a fast food place. Conversely, fast-food operations like McDonalds have responded to free-market pressure and customer demand to offer healthier options. City intervention is heavy-handed, unneeded, and counterproductive.

The bottom line is that this is another case of some nannystater thinking he knows your business better than you yourself do.

With Los Angeles facing a fiscal train wreck and a sour economy, perhaps Councilman Parks should spend more time on things like the budget and public pensions reform, and less on what we Angelenos get to eat for lunch.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Harry Reid, Nanny-Stater of the month

March 2, 2011

Recently, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was invited to speak before the Nevada legislature. What did he talk about? The national debt? America’s budget woes? Other issues of national import?

Nope. Nanny Reid devoted his time to a cause that must have left his listeners scratching their heads. In a state famous for its small-government libertarian attitudes, Harry Reid wins Reason.TV‘s coveted Nanny of the Month award for arguing for a ban on legalized prostitution:

Talk about a kill-joy! And what’s he got against a girl making a living, eh?

Seriously, regardless of what one thinks of prostitution*, this was hardly a topic a United States senator needed to scold his legislators for, although Harry does seem to enjoy scolding. Prostitution typically falls under a state’s police powers; the federal government has no role in this, other than preventing cross-border sex trafficking. But that’s not at issue here: Nevada allows counties to license brothels as they see fit.  Reid’s hectoring is simply another example of federal officials inserting their noses into places they don’t belong, trying to impose one-size fits all policies to social issues where there may be strong regional differences in opinion. It’s not only nannyish, it goes against our federal system of divided powers.

So, knock it off, Harry. Let Nevada handle its own problems, and you deal with the national issues your voters elected you to deal with.

*For the record, I favor decriminalizing prostitution both because it is a consensual act† between individuals that shouldn’t be government’s concern and because I support a broad private right to make a contract between adults, including sex in return for payment. I also think that many of the problems associated with prostitution (STDs, white slavery, pimping) would be eliminated or greatly lessened by decriminalization. And it would allow more law enforcement resources to be directed toward genuine sex crimes, such as child pornography and child prostitution.

†On the other hand, I don’t agree with the idea of the legalization of hard drugs, since I haven’t been convinced that the social costs would be outweighed by the gain in individual liberty. Yet another reason why I’ll never be a “Big L” libertarian.

UPDATE: Edited to fix some really sloppy typing. Yeesh.


California: In which I contemplate becoming a criminal

February 5, 2011

Sadness. My last 100-watt incandescent light bulb burned out, but I can’t buy another to replace it. Nanny Sacramento has decreed that I may buy no more, in order to save save us from the overuse of energy, a problem government and the environmentalist movement created by doing all they could to stymie new power plants in this state.

But, wait! I can use the Nanny-approved compact fluorescent light! Nick Gillespie tells us why we should be grateful:

Hmmm… I guess they aren’t as wonderful as Nanny told us. 

It’s nice to know, with the state in an economic depression and fiscal collapse looming on the horizon, that our masters, the Mandarins of the Green Dome, still think it’s important to regulate the most minor facets of our daily lives. And just to show what good little Green Statists they are, they had to impose our ban a year ahead of similar federal law.

I’m sure they were hoping for a cookie and a pat on the head from Pelosi and Waxman.

Of course, there could be profit for me in all this: smuggling illegal incandescent bulbs from overseas, cleverly hiding them in the trunk under innocuous bags of cocaine and harmless-looking radical imams. Like a modern Prometheus, I’ll bring cheap light to the people of California! Call me “the Light Bulb Bandit!” No one will suspect me of being a criminal…

Wait. “Criminal?” Make that “freedom fighter!”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


So ignorant, it’s scary: the sequel

January 19, 2011

Last summer I wrote a post about the mind-numbing witlessness of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX).  Now, on top of her ignorance of History and Science, she’s shown herself to be devoid of any understanding of the Constitution*, too, by declaring that a repeal of ObamaCare would be unconstitutional:

Arguing that the Commerce Clause provides the constitutional basis for ObamaCare, Jackson Lee said repealing the law by passing Republicans’ H.R. 2 violates both the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.

“The Fifth Amendment speaks specifically to denying someone their life and liberty without due process,” she said in a speech on the House floor moments ago. “That is what H.R. 2 does and I rise in opposition to it. And I rise in opposition because it is important that we preserve lives and we recognize that 40 million-plus are uninsured.

She continued, “Can you tell me what’s more unconstitutional than taking away from the people of America their Fifth Amendment rights, their Fourteenth Amendment rights, and the right to equal protection under the law?”

Jackson Lee mentioned the names of several people who she said would be helped by the national health care law, including a schizophrenic, a dialysis patient, and somebody whose mother cannot otherwise get dental care. “I know they would question why we are taking away their rights,” she said.

Actually, I should think they would more likely question whether she has two firing synapses in her head. And does anyone seriously think she’d even be giving constitutionalism a passing glance, if her party hadn’t been massacred in the last election by voters sickened by the Democrats’ cavalier disregard for the Constitution?

She won’t understand it, but I’ll try.

Dear Sheila,

The US Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. That means –try to keep up, now– it limits what the federal government can do, assigning it specific powers and reserving the rest to the people and the states. It does this to protect the individual liberty of Americans from tyrannical power-grabs by a distant government. (If you had paid attention in History class, you’d recall we fought the Revolution for that very reason.) This is why the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, the Second the individual right to bear arms, and so on.

What the Constitution does not do, regardless of what Franklin Roosevelt and Cass Sunstein say, is mandate that the government give you stuff. It is not required to give you food, clothing, a place to live, a new TV, gas for your car, a pony on your birthday, or insurance coverage. Your twisting of the Fifth Amendment to say that the government must mandate insurance coverage lest someone’s life be taken from them is… bizarre. If that’s the case, then the government should buy everyone a gun, too, since otherwise someone might lose his life and property in a robbery. You know what happens when you rely on the government to give you everything you could want? The citizen becomes an infantilized servant.

And “due process?” I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean. Are you really saying that the government cannot deny someone insurance coverage without a court hearing? Wait. I don’t want to be giving you any ideas…

Sigh. What’s the use? She’s a progressive through and through, dedicated to the proposition that all Men are to be made equal by the government and are endowed by the government with whatever rights the government makes up that week**. And it’s not a coincidence that handing out goodies and calling them “constitutional rights” is a good way to bribe her constituents*** into reelecting her, which they seem quite willing to do.

But it doesn’t change the fact that she’s dumber than a box of rocks.

*Of course, that’s a common problem among Democrats. Some Republicans, too, but it’s pandemic on their side.

**I’d suggest she read the original, but why bother? It’s over 100 years old and probably too confusing for her.

***Can’t wait to see what reapportionment does to her district. Schadenfreude, baby!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


It was inevitable: gun rights in the crosshairs, again

January 11, 2011

In the 72 hours after the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of several others in Tucson, our moral betters on the liberal left were shouting in (coordinated?) outrage that it had to be due to the angry, overheated rhetoric from the Right, and most particularly from Sarah Palin. Even the Sheriff of Pima County couldn’t resist getting in on the act.

Though the Left is still pushing the “dangerous rhetoric” idea, even to the point of introducing a bill to criminalize free speech*, their campaign to smear their conservative opponents is crumbling like a wet cookie as it becomes increasingly clear that the shooter suffered from a serious mental illness and had no coherent political beliefs. So,with that tactic failing, what’s a good statist to do? How else can we exploit human tragedy to further our political agenda? Hmmm…

I’ve got it! Let’s blame it on Arizona’s loose gun laws! Then we can get gun-control legislation passed!

Trouble is, like the “inflamed rhetoric” argument, the idea that weak gun laws in Arizona allowed a mentally ill man to legally conceal-carry a firearm does not stand up to the light of truth, as Big Journalism’s Dana Loesch shows:

More on the role of conceal carry in a bit. I’ve seen many are making the case that just “anyone” with mental illness can buy a gun and that Arizona’s “relaxed” gun laws contributed to the Arizona tragedy because a mentally ill individual was allowed to legally purchase a firearm and we can’t just have mentally ill people buying guns. No, we can’t, which is why Arizona has a law about this. AZ law expressly states that due to their prohibited possessor stipulation, anyone proving a danger to themselves or others pursuant to court order is not allowed to purchase a firearm.

Under Arizona law, prohibited possessor are defined in ARS 13-3101 which states:

  • 7. “Prohibited possessor” means any person:
  • (a) Who has been found to constitute a danger to himself or to others or to be persistently or acutely disabled or gravely disabled pursuant to court order under section 36-540, and whose right to possess a firearm has not been restored pursuant to section 13-925.

Had campus security and his parents followed up with proper treatment and reported his actions, he, from what it sounds, would have been an easy PP and unable to buy a weapon. Had the Sheriff’s office acted upon what is suggested as their advanced knowledge of Loughner’s troubled history, they may have obtained a warrant and confiscated his firearm – or apprehended him before he bought it. Of course, this simply assumes that Loughner was only motivated to cause harm because he was in possession of a firearm and presupposes that the firearm was an accessory motivator and rules out for certain that Loughner would never have attacked anyone with, say, a knife, bat, or any other weapon.

The problem isn’t the fallacy that Arizona’s law failed – Arizona’s law, like every law, can only work if followed. Prohibited possession can only work if if troubled individuals are reported to authorities so that the existing laws can be applied to them and, in this case, prevent them from purchasing firearms.

In other words, the problem was that existing law was not applied when it should have been. (And the Sheriff’s office there is in serious need of investigation for its failures in this case.)

Loesch then goes on to address the faulty argument that permissive concealed-carry laws enabled this crime and increase the risks we face, citing numerous studies — including data from the FBI — to show that states that permit concealed-carry experience a sharp drop in violent crime. (For example)  Inconvenient truths, of course, rarely matter to the Statists in the media and government, who are quick to seize any reason, however fallacious, to try to advance their agenda of paternalistic control, including taking away our ability to defend ourselves.

For our own good, of course.

*Maybe they need another public reading of the Bill of Rights?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


It’s time for the Nanny-Stater of the Year Award!

December 17, 2010

I know we’ve all been waiting for this one. Out of all the people who have dedicated their lives to minding your business, who will be America’s Biggest Nanny?

Personally, I would have nominated Barack or Michelle Obama, but this year’s winner is truly deserving.

Happy Meals for everyone!!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)