Oh. My. God.
Sorry to sound like a teenager, but I am endlessly amazed at the hare–brained ways that politicians waste our money and interfere with our lives.
So as part of my ongoing series comparing foolish government policies (previous editions include the U.S. v Germany and the U.S. v. the U.K.), let’s figure out whether California or the European Union is more worthy of scorn.
We’ll start with European Union. Here’s an excerpt from a story in the UK-based Telegraph.
Children are to be banned from taking part in traditional Christmas games, from blowing up balloons to blowing on party whistles, because of new EU safety rules that have just entered into force. The EU toy safety directive, agreed and implemented by Government, states that balloons must not be blown up by unsupervised children under the age of eight, in case they accidentally swallow them and choke. …Apparently harmless toys that children have enjoyed for decades are now regarded by EU regulators as posing an unacceptable safety risk.Whistle blowers, that scroll out into a long coloured paper tongue when sounded – a party favourite at family Christmas meals – are now classed as unsafe for all children under 14. …As well as new rules for balloons and party whistles, the EU legislation will impose restrictions on how noisy toys, including rattles or musical instruments, are allowed to be.
Heck, let’s surround the little tykes with bubble wrap and never let them out of the house.
I’m pleasantly surprised, by the way, that a sociology professor defended freedom. Here’s another excerpt.
Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, warned that toy safety bans were part of a trend to micro-manage children’s lives at the expense of allowing them to explore, learn and have fun through play. “Toys and activities, such as blowing up balloons, are part and parcel of the type of children’s play that helps them become independent and self-reliant,” he said.
Now let’s shift to California. The Golden State has a very schizophrenic approach to kids. Let’s start with a nanny state gesture, as reported by Reuters.
Minors in the state of California will no longer be allowed to use tanning beds after Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Sunday prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from using ultraviolet tanning devices. California is the first state in the nation to ban minors from using tanning beds, legislators said. Previously, California had banned minors under the age of 14 from using tanning beds, but allowed those between 14 and 18 years of age to use tanning beds with parental consent. The bill was part of a cluster of legislation signed on Sunday designed to “improve the health and well-being of Californians,” according to a statement from the Governor’s office.
But lest you think California doesn’t want kids to have any fun, here’s a story from the LA Times about letting kids get STD treatment without parental consent or knowledge.
California Gov. Jerry Brown stepped into the middle of a debate over parental rights Sunday by signing legislation giving children 12 or older the power to consent to medical care involving the prevention of sexually transmitted disease. …The measure was backed by groups including the California STD Controllers Assn., the Health Officers Assn. of California, ACT for Women and Girls and the American Civil Liberties Union. The bill was opposed by the California Catholic Conference, which opposed previous measures that allow minors to consent to certain treatments without the involvement of parents. That group wrote to legislators that “this bill is dangerous because it expands a faulty law which assumes that children know better than their parents and because it will allow minors access to HPV vaccines which may cause them permanent harm.”
This is rather surreal. The politicians apparently believe in letting kids make “adult” decisions in some ways, regardless of health risks, but don’t want to let kids make decisions in other ways, precisely because of health risks.
The only unifying theme is that California politicians obviously have very little regard for parental rights.
I guess Reagan was right when he said, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
Though these stories also reminded me of a line from the funniest public policy video I’ve ever watched. “We’ve subsidized the features you want and taxed away the rest.”
By the way, here’s a post with five different examples of government stupidity in the United States and five different examples of government stupidity in the United Kingdom. One can only imagine how long the list will be 12 months from now.