Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘nanny state’

Back in my less sophisticated days (shocking as it may seem, I wasn’t always the mature, statesmanlike figure I am today), I sometimes resorted to silly arguments when debating gun control, such as, “does this mean you want to ban knives since they also can be used to kill people?”

Smarter opponents would scoff and accuse me of knocking down straw men, assuming a non-existent slippery slope, or engaging in reductio ad absurdum.

I wasn’t even sure what the last one meant, but I secretly felt chagrined because I also thought the argument was nonsense. But it’s not like we had the Internet back in those days so I could quickly peruse the writings of John Lott or David Kopel.

Well, I no longer need to feel shame. It turns out that my straw man came to life and he’s sliding down a slope into a big pool of whatever that reductio thing is.

I kid you not. There’s a supposedly civilized nation that is seriously talking about banning long kitchen knives.

I’ll give you a couple of hints to help you figure out what country is considering this bizarre policy.

Yes, I’m talking about our friends in the United Kingdom.

They make some decent movies and they have cute accents, but they seem totally clueless about how to fight crime and the notion of individual rights appears to be a totally alien concept.

So the nation that once ruled half the world actually has contemplated whether to ban certain kitchen knives. Here are some details from a 2005 BBC report.

A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing. …The research is published in the British Medical Journal. The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all. …The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of long pointed knives would be a key step in the fight against violent crime. …Home Office spokesperson said there were already extensive restrictions in place to control the sale and possession of knives. “The law already prohibits the possession of offensive weapons in a public place, and the possession of knives in public without good reason or lawful authority, with the exception of a folding pocket knife with a blade not exceeding three inches. … A spokesperson for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “ACPO supports any move to reduce the number of knife related incidents, however, it is important to consider the practicalities of enforcing such changes.”

Given my low opinion of and low expectations for Britain’s political class, I’m impressed that pocket knives are still legal. It’s probably just a matter of time before than changes. After that, the next step will be fingernail clippers.

And I’m glad that the ACPO person warned that there might be problems enforcing such a silly law.

But I fully expect to see that foolish proposal get enacted at some point. After all, this is the country where a women who was being threatened by thugs got in trouble with the police for brandishing a knife in her own home.

Read Full Post »

I don’t like bloated government. It undermines economic performance by diverting resources from the productive sector of the economy and often leads to destructive tax policy.

But when trying to build support for good fiscal policy, it often helps to cite specific examples of wasteful and foolish government. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been comparing examples of government stupidity and political correctness in the United States and the United Kingdom.

After all, how many people would want to pay more taxes after reviewing these bizarre episodes of government in action?

From the United Kingdom

From the United States

I’ve even shared some instances of moronic behavior from the private sector, and I have another story that may belong in that category.

In this instance, we’re talking about the critical need to protect people from pudding. I’m not joking. Here are some of the details of a very odd report in the Daily Mail.

If you’re lucky enough to look about 18, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to provide ID at the supermarket to buy alcohol, knives or glue. Now an addition has been made to that list of potentially hazardous items – chocolate pudding. Robert Nemeti was amazed when he was asked for ID while buying a microwaveable pudding at Tesco. Mr Nemeti, 24, was going through the self-service checkout when an on-screen warning announced that his purchase had to be ‘approved’. …‘The woman who was monitoring the self-service checkouts came over and asked me for identification showing I was 18. I asked her why and was stunned when she told me: “It gets hot when you cook it – and you may burn yourself”. Surely the same can be said of many of the products they sell in any supermarket? Health and safety has gone crazy if you now have to prove you can be trusted with a chocolate pudding.’ He added: ‘I explained that I didn’t have any ID. Thankfully she agreed that I looked over 18 and she scanned her staff pass to approve the sale.’ Mr Nemeti managed to cook and eat the dessert that evening without injury.

Gee, I’m glad that Mr. Nemeti managed to eat the pudding without causing a fire or suffering burns.

There’s not much I can add to this story. Is this an example of crazy government over-protectiveness, sort of nanny state run amok? Perhaps somewhat similar to Nurse Bloomberg’s attempt to ban large sodas? I don’t know. There aren’t enough details.

Or maybe it’s the fault of the private sector, with some corporate bureaucrat justifying his job by coming up with idiotic rules? Though, to be fair, that’s less destructive than American corporate bureaucrats who have special skills when it comes to getting bailout money.

No warning label?!? Such reckless corporate irresponsibility!

Could it be because the English are learning about America’s lawsuit culture and businesses are having to defend themselves from preposterous legal claims by imposing equally preposterous rules? That would be the indirect fault of government.

But whatever the cause, it’s a sorry sign for civilization. I’ve previously explained that I’m very pessimistic about the United Kingdom’s fiscal outlook. Based on this story, I also should worry about the nation’s mental outlook.

But I’m not throwing stones blindly. I’m fully aware that the United States is a glass house, whether the metric is reckless fiscal policy or a dearth of common sense.

Read Full Post »

Last year, I held an unofficial contest to see whether the United Kingdom or the United States had the dumbest bureaucrats and/or most absurd examples of political correctness.

Since that time, I’ve posted additional examples of gross government stupidity from both sides of the Atlantic. From the United Kingdom, we have these gems.

But American officials have been busy as well, with impressive displays of incompetence and stupidity.

Now it’s time to revisit this contest. The United Kingdom has decided to arrest a man for the horrific crime of shooting some thugs that broke into his home. Here are some details from a column in the Telegraph.

A farm tenant and his wife who were arrested after two suspected burglars were shot at their isolated home had been the victims of a number of robberies. …The man is believed to have grabbed a legally owned gun after they were disturbed by the break-in early yesterday. He is understood to have fired at the intruders who then fled the isolated house at Melton Mowbray, Leics, before calling the police. …The arrested man’s mother said: “This is not the first time they have been broken into. “They have been robbed three or four times. One of them was quite nasty. …the businessman and his wife were arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm. Four men, understood to be the suspected burglars, were also arrested.

“Arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm”? Isn’t that the point when confronting criminals?!?

Though I guess we should be happy that the burglars also were arrested. And given the country’s oppressive gun control laws, I’m pleasantly surprised that there are still a few legal guns in the United Kingdom.

But that’s about the only silver lining I can find to this dark cloud.

Moreover, it turns out that the U.K. has a track record of persecuting the innocent. The column mentions outrageous examples.

The case will reignite the debate over a householder’s right to defend his property, which began in the late 1990s after the farmer Tony Martin shot two burglars at his remote Norfolk home. In 1999, Martin fired at Brendan Fearon, 29, and Fred Barras, 16, after they broke into the house in Emneth Hungate. Three shots were fired, Barras was hit in the back and despite escaping through a window died moments later. Martin was convicted of murder and jailed for life, which was reduced on appeal to manslaughter and five years’ jail. In 2009, the millionaire businessman Munir Hussain fought back with a metal pole and a cricket bat against a knife-wielding burglar who tied up his family at their home in Buckinghamshire. Hussain was jailed for two and a half years, despite his attacker being spared prison. Appeal judges reduced the sentence to a year’s jail, suspended. The case prompted David Cameron to announce that home owners and shopkeepers would have the right to protect themselves against burglars and robbers.

I’m glad to see, by the way, that David Cameron is at least saying supportive things about people having the right to self defense. I’ve hammered Cameron for undermining the U.K.’s system of personal retirement accounts, giving taxpayer money to statist environmental groupsincreasing the capital gains taxincreasing the burden of government spending, and whining that it is wrong for people to minimize their tax burdens.

But I also believe in giving credit where it’s due, so I’m glad he wants to change the law. I hope that includes the right to shoot burglars.

That would put the U.K. ahead of Illinois, though that’s a very low bar to clear.

Read Full Post »

Normally, I get pessimistic about the future when I think about wasteful spending programs that will drive almost all developed nations into bankruptcy. And America is on that list, by the way, because of our poorly designed entitlement programs.

But sometimes my despair is the result of idiotic political correctness and bone-headed bureaucracy. And for some reason, as shown by these examples, the United Kingdom seems to have a disproportionate share of morons who want to impose bad policy on their fellow citizens.

But I don’t know if any of those horror stories can match this baffling story reported in the Telegraph.

Public Enemy No. 1?

When the chief starter at the London Olympics agreed to fire his pistol to start the races at a school sports day, parents thought it was a wonderful treat for their children. But they did not count on the intervention of health and safety officials from their local council, who ruled that the noise from Alan Bell’s starting pistol would be too frightening for the youngsters. Bizarrely, the local authority instead suggested playing a recording of a starting pistol on an iPod before agreeing to let Mr Bell start the races by sounding a klaxon. …One parent, who did not wish to be named, told a Sunday newspaper: “It was ridiculous. We were told that the children would be distressed by Mr Bell firing his starting pistol. “Anyone who believes they would be frightened by a starting pistol has never experienced the noise at a typical three-year-old’s birthday party. …Norman Gardiner, president of the Pitreavie Amateur Athletics Club in Dunfermline, said the decision was “health and safety gone mad.”

It’s amazing to think that the United Kingdom once ruled half the world, but now produces pencil-neck bureaucrats who think starting pistols are a menace to society.

But we Americans shouldn’t feel superior. We’re traveling down the same path.

My initial instinct is that we should fire the over-paid bureaucrats who generate this kind of nonsense. I admit that such as step might only address the symptom of a politically correct world, but it would be a good start.

(hat tip to my fellow Bulldog Charles Oliver)

Read Full Post »

Back in 2009, I wrote about various schemes to impose taxes on unhealthy food. At the time, I was primarily concerned about the risks of giving politicians a new source of revenue that would be used to increase the burden of government spending.

The folks at Reason TV look at the issue from a different angle and explain how government anti-obesity efforts won’t achieve their supposed goals.

One of the frustrating aspects of this debate is that failure will be used to justify even more intervention (aka, Mitchell’s Law). Politicians in New York City have already banned bake sales, for instance, yet that didn’t stop Mayor Bloomberg from unleashing a nutty new plan to prohibit large sodas.

And as explained in the video, the statists will respond to the failure of current anti-obesity efforts by arguing they need even more power to control and tax. And when those new efforts fail, they’ll argue for additional authority. Lather, rinse, repeat.

P.S. I assume this cartoon was designed to show why a value-added tax is a bad idea, but it’s very appropriate for this topic as well.

P.P.S. This issue helps explain the dangers of government-subsidized healthcare. Politicians make taxpayers pick up the tab for other people’s medical expenses and then claim that they should have the power to regulate private behavior in order to reduce costs.

Read Full Post »

Mayor Bloomberg is a wretched human being. He’s an ultra-rich limousine liberal who wants to impose his views on ordinary people.

I’ve previously written about his statist efforts to ban bake sales, and I’ve noted with mixed feelings his proposal to tell food stamp recipients what they’re allowed to buy.

Now he wants to criminalize large sodas. Holman Jenkins writes about this silly idea in the Wall Street Journal.

Mike Bloomberg’s move to regulate the size of sodas sold in his city illustrates why it’s a good thing he is a mayor of New York and not the czar of all the Russias. American big cities tend to be one-party states to begin with, but at least their totalitarian impulses end up being merely cute because they’re so easy to evade. Under the Bloomberg plan, any cup or bottle of sugary drink larger than 16 ounces at a public venue would be verboten, beginning early next year. You’ll still be able to buy as much Coke as you want in a supermarket. Go home and pour yourself a bucketful. As Mr. Bloomberg himself was the first to note, you’ll also still be free to buy two medium drinks in place of today’s Big Gulp at ballgames, theaters, delis and other venues where the ban would be in effect.

But Mr. Jenkins doesn’t just mock Bloomberg for being a food nanny. He also makes an important point about public policy.

Here is the ultimate justification for the Bloomberg soft-drink ban, not to mention his smoking ban, his transfat ban, and his unsuccessful efforts to enact a soda tax and prohibit buying high-calorie drinks with food stamps: The taxpayer is picking up the bill. Call it the growing chattelization of the beneficiary class under government health-care programs. Bloombergism is a secular trend. Los Angeles has sought to ban new fast-food shops in neighborhoods disproportionately populated by Medicaid recipients, Utah to increase Medicaid copays for smokers, Arizona to impose a special tax on Medicaid recipients who smoke or are overweight. …So perhaps the famous “broccoli” hypothetical during the Supreme Court ObamaCare debate was not so fanciful after all. It flows naturally from the state’s fiscal responsibility for your health that it will try to regulate your behavior, even mandating vegetable consumption.

Or, to summarize, the view of politicians is that the government can tell you how to live because it is paying for your healthcare. This is Mitchell’s Law on steroids! One bad government policy leading to another awful government policy.

And it’s not just Mayor Bloomberg pushing these policies. Other politicians have similar proposals, though it’s quite likely that their main motive is to collect more tax revenue since they are focused on how to tax various “bad” foods.

But let’s try not to be overly depressed. Here’s an amusing cartoon on the topic.

I’m glad that people are mocking Mayor Bloomberg and the rest of the Food Nazis. And it’s good to see that the soft drink industry is fighting back, as seen by this Super Bowl commercial.

Maybe some day we’ll get to the point where people have to smuggle food past government agents. This may sound absurd, but it’s already happening in Norway.

Read Full Post »

I’ve written about the government’s war on consumer-friendly light bulbs (and also similar attacks on working toilets and washing machines that actually clean), so I’m generally not surprised by bureaucratic nonsense.

But even I’m shocked the federal government gave an affordability award for a light bulb that costs $50. I’m not making this up. Here’s a blurb from ABC News.

The U.S. government has awarded appliance-maker Philips $10 million for devising an “affordable” alternative to today’s standard 60-watt incandescent bulb. That standard bulb sells for around $1. The Philips alternative sells for $50. Of course, the award-winner is no ordinary bulb. It uses only one-sixth the energy of an incandescent. And it lasts 30,000 hours–about 30 times as long. In fact, if you don’t drop it, it may last 10 years or more. But only the U.S. Government (in this case, the Department of Energy) could view a $50 bulb as cheap.

Isn’t that wonderful? My tax dollars were used to reward a company that produced a light bulb I can’t afford.

Lisa Benson has a very good cartoon about this light bulb, as well as the less-than-shocking news that Obamacare will be more costly than originally forecast.

If you like Lisa’s work, there are some other good examples here and here.

Last but not least, I’m up in New York City for an investment funds conference about the Cayman Islands. Not a bad view from my window, though you need to click on the image to get a good idea of what I woke up to.

Too bad the state and the city are high-tax hell holes.

Read Full Post »

Notwithstanding my post comparing stupid government policies in the U.S. and U.K., I thought the Greeks took to prize for most moronic government.

After all, the politicians in that nation think it’s fine and dandy to subsidize pedophiles and collect stool samples as a condition of getting a business license to set up an online company.

But the United Kingdom will reclaim the top spot (or would it be the bottom spot?) if the government follows through on the advice of two nanny-state academics.

Here’s a blurb from a story in the Telegraph.

Experts said the eating disorder was a disease that was linked to social and cultural influenced, the Guardian reported. The LSE academics said restricting the use of photographs of underweight models in magazines would help ease the pressure on women to be very thin. In a paper that will be published in the journal Economia later this year, LSE economist Dr Joan Costa-Font and Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet from City University wrote: “Government intervention would be justified to curb the spread of a potential epidemic of food disorders.

To be fair, there’s no indication in the story that the U.K. government will adopt the recommendation of these academics, but don’t be too optimistic. After all, this is the country that has done these crazy things:

o A job-placement center got in trouble for discriminating against incompetent people by seeking “reliable” and “hard-working” candidates.

o A women who was being threatened by thugs got in trouble with the police for brandishing a knife in her own home.

o A man got arrested for finding a gun in his yard and turning it over to the police.

o The government wanted to require “competency tests” for pet owners.

Remember, never underestimate the stupidity of government.

And I suppose this is the appropriate spot for a disclaimer. Yes, I realize anorexia is not a joking matter. I’ve known people with this problem and I recognize it’s serious. But banning skinny models is an absurd and abusive way for politicians to deal with the issue.

Read Full Post »

In June of last year, I posted several examples of idiotic government policy from both the United States and United Kingdom and asked which nation had the dumbest bureaucrats and politicians.

Since then, we have found new examples of brain-dead government and jaw-dropping political correctness from England, including an effort to stop children from watching Olympic shooting events and (what must be) the most pointless sign in the history of the world.

But American politicians have been busy as well in recent months, with impressive displays of incompetence and stupidity such as preventing a girl from boarding a plane because her purse had an image of a gun and a local school calling the police because a little girl kissed a little boy in gym class.

The competitive juices must be flowing, because there’s a new example of government stupidity from the United Kingdom that is hard to believe. As reported by the Register, you now need an ID to buy teaspoons.

Are you under 18 years of age? Do you have an urgent need for teaspoons? Well, avoid Asda’s Halifax tentacle where the powers that be are determined to prevent this potentially-lethal item of cutlery falling into the hands of murderous yoof. …According to the background info, the lady shopper in question was told by an Asda assistant that she’d have to prove her age “because someone had murdered someone with a teaspoon, and therefore ID was now required”.

Actually, I suppose I’m being unfair to blame the public sector for this nonsense. The story doesn’t actually say this is a government-imposed policy. So perhaps the store inexplicably decided to antagonize customers and hinder commerce with this new requirement.

But if that’s the case, I’ll still blame government because the store manager doubtlessly was (mal)educated at a government school.

Some American readers may be feeling a bit gloomy at this point. After all, how can politicians and bureaucrats in the United States possibly match the stupidity of their cousins on the other side of the Atlantic?

Well, don’t be depressed. America still has a strong claim to the top position in this contest about government incompetence. After all, cops in Indiana arrested a grandmother for buying cold medicine for her husband and then (gasp!) buying cold medicine for her daughter before the end of the seven-day waiting period.

Read Full Post »

Apologies to Charlton Heston for butchering his line about the Second Amendment, but I’m increasingly disgusted and irate about the looming light-bulb ban.

For more than a century, incandescent light bulbs have brightened our world.

But the 100-watt bulb doesn’t provide enough light to compensate for the dark and malignant impact of politicians. In less than one month, stores no longer will be allowed to sell these bulbs – and will force us to use toxic bulbs instead.

So let’s bid a fond farewell to quality lighting – and part of our liberty – with this new video from Reason TV.

Speaking of videos, here’s a good speech on the issue by Congressman Poe of Texas.

By the way, this idiotic idea is another dismal legacy of the statist Bush presidency.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Or is it another example of the “wussification of America?” I don’t know how to classify this story, other than it is a sad commentary on what is happening to America. Bureaucrats in Maryland, who obviously have too much time on their hands, are issuing rules governing sunscreen on summer camps.

Have we really reached the point where we need to regulate approval for sunscreen use? And have we terrified ourselves to the point where we assume camp counselors are potential pedophiles (or, are we stupid enough to think rules like this would stop a real pedophile?). In any event, this story would have been perfect for my post comparing bureaucratic stupidity in the US vs bureaucratic stupidity in the UK.

Here’s an excerpt from the Washington Post.

Maryland health officials were making revisions late Friday night to a new policy that would have severely restricted who could apply sunscreen to children attending summer camps. The new policy, which was issued last month, ordered summer camp operators to steer away from assisting kids with applying sunscreen and to get parents’ permission before letting any child use sunscreen at camp. …The guidelines said, “Camp staff should limit touching the camper as much as possible. Under no circumstances should campers assist each other in the application of sunscreen.” The policy also prohibited camps from supplying sunscreen to campers. …Health officials had argued that their motivation was strictly about safety. “Our intention is certainly not to discourage the use of sunblock,” Mitchell said. “It’s really to walk a fine line between protecting kids’ skin and making sure they feel personally safe.” Mitchell said he did not know of any cases of inappropriate touching by counselors that might have led to the new regulations. At camps across Maryland, parents are receiving permission forms asking whether their child may use sunscreen while at camp. At the Barrie Day Camp in Silver Spring, for example, parents who allow their child to use sunscreen must also check off on whether the sunblock may be applied with or without assistance from staff members. “The camp is just doing what the state ordered them to do,” said Paul Basken, a father of two children who attend Barrie camp. “But this can’t be serious. I mean, if I didn’t feel safe about the camp, I just wouldn’t send my kids there.” …The rules are “absurd,” said Maral Skelsey, a dermatologist in Chevy Chase. “This is the biggest known carcinogen that children are exposed to. We should be asking camp counselors to take an active role in promoting skin protection.”

Our Founding Fathers must be looking down at us, shaking their heads and wondering “where did we go wrong?”

Read Full Post »

Life is filled with risk. We can deal with that two ways. The first option is to allow people to make educated choices, thus promoting individual responsibility. The second option is to have politicians micro-manage our decisions, thus promoting passivity.

Not surprisingly, America is drifting in the wrong direction, allowing busybodies to regulate every aspect of our lives.

Here’s an excerpt from the Seattle newspaper about an example of what I call the wussification of America. But it’s really more the infantalization of America.

People who hope to beat the summer heat by swimming, floating or boating on rivers in King County must wear a life vest or face an $86 fine. …”This council sometimes thinks it’s everybody’s mom,” said Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, who voted “no.” …The law appears to be the first of its kind in the state. …it didn’t appear any other county required swimmers to wear the devices. …Opponents who spoke before the Council said sheriff’s deputies had better things to do than to write tickets for people on waterways and would be better off focusing on people engaging in dangerous behavior. …Current state law requires that kids 12 and under must wear a live vest when on a boat that is less than 19 feet long. The new county law says everybody must wear the vests when they are on rivers… It applies to people tubing, rafting, using a surfboard, canoe or kayak. Swimmers or people wading more than 5 feet from shore or in water more than 4 feet deep would also have to wear life vests.

I suppose it would be appropriate to mention that this kind of intervention has costs. When government creates the illusion that there is little or no risk, it lures people into behaving more recklessly. The housing mess is a good example. Government subsidies and guarantees caused a boom-bust cycle largely by making it seem like housing was a risk-free investment.

Mandatory life jackets are a different situation, to be sure. Maybe they would encourage people to behave more recklessly, thus offsetting the presumed benefits, but that’s an empirical matter. I’m more worried about the signal sent by such interventions – i.e., that people no longer should think for themselves and instead we can rely on Big Brother to safely guide us through life.

Read Full Post »

I realize this questions answers itself, but I’m continuously amazed at the bone-headed decisions made by politicians and bureaucrats.

Indeed, I wish I had this example for my recent post comparing incompetent officials in the United States with their counterparts in the United Kingdom.

A kid in Indiana played a prank involving a blow-up doll in the women’s bathroom at his high school. Sounds like a couple of afternoons of detention, right? Think again. Here’s an excerpt from a local news report.

A Rushville High School senior faces a felony charge after bringing a blow-up doll to school as part of what he claims was a prank. School officials called police May 31 after a package was found in a girls’ bathroom. A deflated blow-up doll was later found inside the box. Tyell Morton, 18, was arrested on a preliminary charge of felony criminal mischief after he admitted to bringing the doll to school. …The family’s attorney, Robert Turner, said the charge is excessive. “It’s interesting that had he gone to school with a gun, there would’ve been a lesser charge. It would’ve been a Class D felony with up to three years,” he said.

I’m glad I went to school before this type of nonsense became commonplace, because I was once an immature punk (most people would say I’m now an immature grownup, but that’s a separate issue). Not that I’m admitting anything, because I have no idea what the statute of limitations is on these matters, but I may have once set off a string of 400 firecrackers in a school stairwell. And I may have once let a snake loose in the school library.

Back then, I might have gotten suspended for a couple of days if I had been caught. Today, I’d be at Gitmo. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

Read Full Post »

Somebody just sent me a story from the UK-based Daily Telegraph about two little boys who got in trouble for playing army at school. You may think I’m joking, but here’s a blurb from the report.

Staff at Nathaniel Newton Infant School in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, reprimanded the two boys after they were seen making pistol shapes with their fingers. Teachers broke up the imaginary classroom shoot-out and contacted the youngsters’ parents, warning them that such behaviour would not be tolerated. …Parenting groups condemned the school’s reaction to the children’s game of soldiers… Margaret Morrissey, founder of the family lobby group Parents Outloud, said: “It is madness to try to indoctrinate children aged seven with political correctness in this way. “Children have played cowboys and Indians like this for generations and it does them absolutely no harm whatsoever.” …The case follows a string of similar incidents in which children’s playtime activities have been curbed by overzealous staff over health and safety concerns. Earlier this year, a Liverpool school banned youngsters from playing football with anything other than sponge balls amid fears youngsters might get hurt. Research last month also found that one in six British schools had banned conkers over concerns of pupils being hit in the face. Other traditional playground games such as British bulldog and even leapfrog are prohibited at 30 per cent 10 per cent of schools respectively, a study by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers union found.

This is mind-boggling stupidity and jaw-dropping political correctness, and my first instinct was to wonder how a nation that once ruled much of the world has descended to such a pathetic level.

Then I wondered whether, as an American, I was guilty of throwing stones in a glass house. There certainly have been lots of dumb examples of political correctness in the UK.

These surely are laughable examples of bureaucracy run amok. But is the United States any better, given these examples?

I’m not sure which country produces more stupidity, but we can safely conclude that governments do stupid things in all countries.

Read Full Post »

Here’s the kind of story that makes me fear for the future of the nation. It is a disturbing example of both government stupidity and soft tyranny.

The police may not be ticketing for smoking in the parks, but they are still ticketing parker visitors for crimes like…eating a doughnut in a playground. Yup, this weekend the police gave two young women in Bed-Stuy summonses for eating doughnuts in a playground while unaccompanied by a minor. Tickets for being an adult in or around a playground have been popping up fairly frequently lately—see the Inwood chess players—but instead of giving the offending citizens a warning and urging them to leave, the NYPD’s M.O. appears to be to hand out a ticket. Here’s how our reader, an anthropology graduate student, describes her experience this weekend:

    As we were getting ready to move on, two officers approached us. Amongst themselves they debated whether the children’s toy next to us meant that we were there with a child. Then they asked us, “Are you here with a child?” We told them no. One of the cops moved on to the couple on a bench nearby, also ostensibly childless, while the other one asked for our IDs. We handed them over and soon we were being guarded by this cop as his partner took our IDs to their police car. My friend and I were confused. We had seen parks with gates that had a sign clearly stating that adults without children were not allowed in. This park had no such sign. …I got really angry and asked the officer if he honestly believed he was helping this community by giving us these summonses. His response only made me more angry. “I don’t believe in anything,” he said. “You don’t believe in anything? In helping people? Then you probably shouldn’t be a cop,” …His partner returned. He had written two of the summons. We had been there for over twenty minutes now. He handed over our IDs to the cop that had been guarding us. Of course, they each had their own numbers to maintain so they were splitting the violations. This cop attempted to be sympathetic. He proceeded to tell us that he was trying to be a gentleman by just giving us summonses instead of taking us in for questioning, because that was what “they” wanted him to do. If he just gave us warnings and told us to leave, he would get in trouble for “doing nothing all day.” …Because we hadn’t been drinking alcohol or urinating in public, we do not have the option of pleading guilty by mail. Not that I am planning on pleading guilty. But either way, we have to show up in court or a warrant will be issued for our arrest. My friend does not live in New York and I am out of the country all summer, so this is going to be an ordeal in itself, given that the summons has no information on how to contact the court. Nor do we know how much we owe. Because the cops had no idea about that, either. They were just “doing their jobs,” in the most mindless sense of that phrase.

Presumably, the ban on adults near playgrounds is supposed to hinder child molesters. But does anyone really think a child molester will be deterred by a summons? And does anybody think two women eating doughnuts are the people likely to molest kids (I presume 99 percent of such crimes are committed by men)? And is anyone else outraged that the cops were basically filling a quota of tickets so they could show their supervisor that they weren’t “doing nothing all day.”

I’d like to say this is stupidity, but that doesn’t quite capture the essence of this story. I’m also tempted to say this is the nanny state, but that’s not quite right either. Another option is that this is incompetence, but the cops actually followed the policy as written.

The best I can come up with is that this is a classic example of modern government, a loathsome entity that at best is a nuisance and often becomes a tyrant.

(h/t: Amy Alkon)

Read Full Post »

I’m an over-protective parent. Even now, with my kids ranging between 18 and 23, I will try to herd them together while skiing so I can follow them down the slopes and watch for potential injuries. And I never got them a jungle gym when they were young, even though I somehow managed to survive childhood with one in my backyard.

But at least I recognize what I’m doing. And I certainly would never consider imposing my mother-hen impulses on the overall population.

I’m not surprised to discover, however, that bureaucrats in New York wanted to go way overboard with regulations to ban just about anything with even tiny risks of injury. This list included things such as archery and rock climbing, which might cause me to fret, but also things such as (I’m not joking) kickball and tag.

With those standards, you may as well require kids to be enclosed in bubble wrap every morning.

The only good news is that people found out about the state’s regulatory overreach and the government was forced to cancel the rules after widespread mockery.

Here are some excerpts from a story by NBC in New York.

Day camp games like tag, wiffle ball, Red Rover and kickball are no longer at risk in New York after state health officials yanked a proposal that threatened the future of those mainstays of child’s play. Towns, villages and other camp operators had begun revamping upcoming indoor summer programs after the Department of Health sent out a long list of familiar games and activities it said presented a “significant risk of injury” and needed to be regulated more closely. …On Tuesday, Richie, a Republican whose district includes three mostly rural north-central New York counties, said she was pleased by the reversal. “At a time when our nation’s No. 1 health concern is childhood obesity, I am very happy to see that someone in state government saw we should not be adding new burdensome regulations by classifying tag, Red Rover and Wiffle Ball as dangerous activities,” she said. “I am glad New York’s children can continue to steal the bacon and play flag football and enjoy other traditional rites of summer.” The proposal would have revised the definition of a summer day camp to include potentially risky organized indoor group activities like archery and rock climbing — as well as things like kickball, tag and Wiffle Ball. Ritchie said that would have required camps in many smaller towns and villages to add staff such as nurses and pay $200 for a state permit. Other critics argued the regulation was a hysterical approach that stood to take all the fun out of summer.

Read Full Post »

I don’t like it when politicians pass laws that undermine the freedom and prosperity of the American people. But I really hate it when politicians pass those laws and exempt themselves.

Years ago, as a lowly Senate staffer, I recall watching a debate about whether politicians were going to increase fuel economy regulations and thus force people into cars that were smaller, less convenient, and less safe. One good Senator, I think perhaps Don Nickles of Oklahoma, offered an amendment that basically would have forced bigwigs on Capitol Hill to live by the same rules by requiring limousines for congressional leaders to meet the same onerous restrictions. Needless to say, the arrogant political class thought this was absurd and to this day they get driven in luxury gas guzzlers (paid for by you and me).

We now have another version of this laws-for-thee-but-not-for-me mentality from the Obama Administration. No, I’m not talking about Tim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary who is in charge of the Internal Revenue Service but got a free pass after illegally hiding $80,000 of income from the IRS. I’m talking about the President and his personal fleet of limousines.

He wants us to abide by rules that will be expensive and lower the quality of cars, but those rules won’t apply to him. Here’s what the Detroit News reported.

The U.S. Secret Service said today that some federal vehicles for law enforcement and security purposes will be exempt from President Barack Obama’s directive that all federal vehicles purchased starting 2015 be advanced technology models. Secret Service spokesman Robert Novy said the directive wouldn’t apply to vehicles used for some law enforcement or security reasons by various federal agencies. …That would include the GM-built Cadillac presidential limousine and other vehicles in the motorcade. It also expected to include many law enforcement vehicles.

Not surprisingly, this is completely contrary to what the President said he would do, as noted elsewhere in the article. Unless, of course, you think “100 percent” means something other than “100 percent.”

Obama announced the plan this week to “green” the federal fleet. “I’m directing our departments and our agencies to make sure 100 percent of the vehicles they buy are fuel-efficient or clean energy cars and trucks by 2015.Not 50 percent, not 75 percent — 100 percent of our vehicles,” Obama said today at an appearance in Landover, Md., at UPS facility to urge private companies to green their vehicle fleets.

Read Full Post »

Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has a withering critique of dumb government policies that have taken away our freedom to buy low-cost and effective washing machines and instead forced us to buy expensive machines that don’t do a good job of cleaning our clothes.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that politicians are undermining our quality of life. These are the same jackasses, after all, that are in the process of requiring us to use crummy light bulbs. And they’ve already coerced us into ridiculous “low-flow” toilets that don’t work very well if you happen to…um…deposit something that reminds you of Washington.

Here’s an excerpt from Sam’s column, but read the whole piece since he also discusses how the Senate wants to make a bad situation even worse, and he also reveals how corrupt big businesses favor these mandates so they can eliminate low-cost options.

…for decades the top-loading laundry machine was the most affordable and dependable. Now it’s ruined—and Americans have politics to thank. …The culprit is the federal government’s obsession with energy efficiency. Efficiency standards for washing machines aren’t as well-known as those for light bulbs, which will effectively prohibit 100-watt incandescent bulbs next year. Nor are they the butt of jokes as low-flow toilets are. But in their quiet destruction of a highly affordable, perfectly satisfactory appliance, washer standards demonstrate the harmfulness of the ever-growing body of efficiency mandates. The federal government first issued energy standards for washers in the early 1990s. When the Department of Energy ratcheted them up a decade later, it was the beginning of the end for top-loaders. …Front-loaders meet federal standards more easily than top-loaders. Because they don’t fully immerse their laundry loads, they use less hot water and therefore less energy. But, as Americans are increasingly learning, front-loaders are expensive, often have mold problems, and don’t let you toss in a wayward sock after they’ve started. When the Department of Energy began raising the standard, it promised that “consumers will have the same range of clothes washers as they have today,” and cleaning ability wouldn’t be changed. That’s not how it turned out. …even though these newer types of washers cost about twice as much as conventional top-loaders, overall they didn’t clean as well as the 1996 models. …We know that politics can be dirty. Who’d have guessed how literal a truth this is?

Hat tip to Advice Goddess.

Read Full Post »

This is beautiful. It’s so refreshing to have a handful of Republicans who actually understand that their job is promoting freedom.

Read Full Post »

Regular readers of this blog already know (see here, here, and here) that I’m not a big fan of the new “CFL” light bulbs that we will be forced to use in a couple of years.

In a more entertaining fashion, here’s a video from a few years ago, featuring a Republican Congressman railing against the new bulbs.

Repealing the idiotic mandate for these inferior bulbs should be a gimme for the new Republican majority. Somehow, though, I predict they’ll screw up and leave the requirement in place.

Read Full Post »

Since I believe in federalism and decentralization, I tend to be somewhat tolerant of stupid decisions by local governments – particularly when those choices are made thousands of miles away and I don’t have to deal with the consequences.

With this in mind, I find it rather amusing that San Francisco is now plagued by sewer smells as a result of mandates for low-flow toilets. The article doesn’t explain what rules the city imposed, but I assume they are even worse than the federal rules (if you want a good laugh about the federal law, this Dave Barry column is worth reading).

Reading the excerpt below, part of me hopes for a dry summer and that the city’s politicians all live near AT&T Park.

San Francisco’s big push for low-flow toilets has turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink. Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months. The city has already spent $100 million over the past five years to upgrade its sewer system and sewage plants, in part to combat the odor problem. Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite – better known as bleach – to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city’s treated water before it’s dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

Read Full Post »

I don’t know if this commercial was broadcast nationally, but I saw it in northern Virginia. A very smart, anti-politician message.

The worst commercial (this is a no-brainer) was from Chrysler. Not because the advertising was bad, but because the company is mooching from the taxpayers.

Read Full Post »

Dana Milbank is a snarky leftist who writes for the Washington Post, but I have to give him credit for an amusing column today about the new big-brother diet guidelines from our incompetent federal government. Here are a few excerpts.

In the late 1970s, before the government began telling us what to eat, 15 percent of adults and 4 percent of children were obese. Now, after 30 years of Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines, 34 percent of adults and 20 percent of children are obese. …Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was a nutrition evangelist Monday morning as he rolled out the latest version of the dietary guidelines at George Washington University. …Vilsack said he can help fellow Americans to do the same – as long as they are willing to share with the government a few intimate details about themselves, such as how much they weigh, every morsel of food that passes their lips, and how they occupy themselves every minute of the day and night. …Undoubtedly, Americans would be healthier if they would follow the recommendations, but this sounds like TMI at the USDA. Using the drop-down “activity” menu on the website, you are asked to enter how many minutes a day you do such things as “dressing/undressing,” “sitting on toilet,” “sleeping,” “sitting quietly and watching television,” “slow dancing,” “singing in church,” “casino gambling,” “coal mining,” “washing dishes,” “wrestling” and “butchering animals.”

Read Full Post »

There is a famous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller, who was imprisoned by Hitler’s National Socialist regime and barely survived the concentration camps.

They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Niemöller’s statement teaches us that we should guard against government oppression, even when we are not the target, because it may be just a matter of time before the goons of the state shift their attention to us.

Nothing can compare to the horrors of Hitler’s National Socialists or the brutality of various communist regimes, so I certainly do not want to imply any moral equivalence, but I can’t help but thinking about what Niemöller said as I contemplate the various hare-brained proposals being imposed on people by San Francisco’s nanny-state buffoons.

Last week, I put up a post about the city banning Happy Meals toys. That certainly seemed absurd, but the craziness is reaching new levels with a possible referendum on banning circumcisions.

One city resident is proposing a ballot measure that would ban circumcision in the City, according to the San Francisco Examiner. If passed in November 2011, the measure would change San Francisco’s police code “to make it a misdemeanor to circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicle or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18.” The punishment for those who choose to cut away anyway would be up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison.

What’s next, mandatory sensitivity classes? Morning calisthenics with the exercise police? Banning leather belts? Is there any limit once we acquiesce to the notion that other people have the right to tell us how to live our lives?

Read Full Post »

Reason TV has a new video in their great Nanny-of-the-Month series. The winner is a San Francisco politician who pushed through legislation to ban restaurants like McDonald’s from including toys in happy meals.

Here’s a great idea: How about banning politicians from trying to tell us how to live our lives? Our Founding Fathers surely would agree, but I guess that’s asking too much in the modern era. But is it too much to ask that maybe politicians focus on real issues, such as undoing the mistakes they’ve already made? 

If Supervisor Mar really cares about his city, he should be pushing legislation to reduce excessive pay, benefits, and pensions for bureaucrats. These are the policies that are pushing San Francisco closer to fiscal collapse with each passing day. When the city declares bankruptcy, I don’t think the average person will be overly concerned about whether McDonald’s is offering happy meals.

Read Full Post »

Michelle Obama has a column in the Washington Post about the supposed wonders of giving schools a bigger role in the feeding of children. My first reaction is to roll my eyes. I understand that every First Lady picks a pet cause. I just wish they found causes that didn’t involve bigger government. My second reaction is that there should be zero federal government involvement in education, much less micro-managing menus in local schools. My third reaction is that parents should be in charge of the feeding of children. And my final reaction is that if the nanny-state nitwits in Washington really want to deal with childhood obesity, they should outlaw video games, computers, and TVs. I suspect those are the main culprits causing chubbier kids. But please don’t share this blog post with any politicians. They might actually propose such a law. As this excerpt indicates, the First Lady already is pushing a bad idea, so we don’t want to give the crowd in Washington any ideas to make the bill even worse.
The Child Nutrition Bill working its way through Congress has support from both Democrats and Republicans. This groundbreaking legislation will bring fundamental change to schools and improve the food options available to our children. …the bill will make it easier for the tens of millions of children who participate in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program — and many others who are eligible but not enrolled — to get the nutritious meals they need to do their best. It will set higher nutritional standards for school meals by requiring more fruits, vegetables and whole grains while reducing fat and salt. It will offer rewards to schools that meet those standards. And it will help eliminate junk food from vending machines and a la carte lines — a major step that is supported by parents, health-experts, and many in the food and beverage industry. …That’s why it is so important that Congress pass this bill as soon as possible. We owe it to the children who aren’t reaching their potential because they’re not getting the nutrition they need during the day. We owe it to the parents who are working to keep their families healthy and looking for a little support along the way. We owe it to the schools that are trying to make progress but don’t have the resources they need. And we owe it to our country — because our prosperity depends on the health and vitality of the next generation.

Read Full Post »

Since Barney Frank is one of the most collectivist and statist members of Congress, it is very unusual for me to write the words “I agree with Barney Frank.” But on the issue of Internet gambling, the Massachusetts Congressman actually has the right position. Steve Chapman elaborates on this topic in his column, concluding with wise words about getting out of way when someone like Barney Frank actually wants more freedom and less government.

Four years ago, Congress tried to stamp out online betting by forbidding banks from transferring funds to Internet gambling sites. But it was spitting into a gale. “Gamblers have used online payment processors, phone-based deposits and prepaid credit cards to circumvent the ban,” reports The New York Times. It’s an old problem: When lots of people are eager to enter transactions with other people that do no direct harm to anyone else, the government can’t realistically hope to prevent them. All the ban accomplishes is to push the industry offshore, leaving U.S. customers more vulnerable to fraud. Well, that’s not all it accomplishes. It also encourages Americans to do their gambling elsewhere: going to casinos (now found in 33 states), wagering at off-track parlors or buying lottery tickets peddled by state monopolies. The lotteries are a motive for governments to oppose legalization of online gambling, since it might take away customers looking for better odds. …there is no good reason for the federal government to prohibit citizens from engaging in a peaceful, popular and enjoyable activity that almost all of them can handle responsibly. Nor is there any point, since those citizens are going to do it anyway. Congress would be wise to accept that age-old reality and settle for harvesting the tax revenues Internet betting can generate. Maybe it would be the start of something even bigger. After all, it’s not every day you hear congressional Democrats making the case for more freedom and less government. When Barney Frank acts on the view that “most actions the government should stay out of,” it would be a shame to stand in his way.

Read Full Post »

I’ve decided my one legacy to the world is the phrase, “Bad government policy begets more bad government policy.” This term, which I am modestly calling Mitchell’s Law, describes what happens when government intervention (Fannie and Freddie, for example, or Medicare and Medicaid) causes problems in a particular market (a housing bubble or a third-party payer crisis), which leads the politicians to impose more misguided intervention (bailouts or Obamacare).

Here’s a good example from Germany. The politicians created government-run healthcare. Overweight people are putting a larger burden on the system, imposing costs on taxpayers. The logical response is to shift to a market-based system where people are in charge of their own healthcare costs. Not surprisingly, that option isn’t being considered. Instead, politicians are using the situation as an excuse to consider even more taxes.

Marco Wanderwitz, a conservative member of parliament for the German state of Saxony, said it is unfair and unsustainable for the taxpayer to carry the entire cost of treating obesity-related illnesses in the public health system. “I think that it would be sensible if those who deliberately lead unhealthy lives would be held financially accountable for that,” Wanderwitz said, according to Reuters. Germany, famed for its beer, pork and chocolates, is one of the fattest countries in Europe. Twenty-one percent of German adults were obese in 2007, and the German newspaper Bild estimates that the cost of treating obesity-related illnesses is about 17 billion euro, or $21.7 billion, a year. …Health economist Jurgen Wasem called for Germany to tackle the problem of fattening snacks in order to raise money and reduce obesity. “One should, as with tobacco, tax the purchase of unhealthy consumer goods at a higher rate and partly maintain the health system,” Wasem said, according to Germany’s English-language newspaper The Local. “That applies to alcohol, chocolate or risky sporting equipment such as hang-gliders.” Others are suggesting even more extreme measures. The German teachers association recently called for school kids to be weighed each day, The Daily Telegraph said. The fat kids could then be reported to social services, who could send them to health clinics.

Read Full Post »

It is common to mock paper-pushing bureaucrats and nanny-state politicians for silly laws and mindless regulations, but sometimes absurd policies translate into genuine oppression. John Stossel outlines some of the disturbing ways that the American people are being mistreated.
Something’s happened to America, and it isn’t good. It’s become easier to get into trouble. We’ve become a nation of a million rules…top-down rules formed in the brains of meddling bureaucrats who think they know better than we how to manage our lives. Cross them, and we are in trouble. The National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) received an anonymous fax that a seafood shipment to Alabama from David McNab contained “undersized lobster tails” and was improperly packed in clear plastic bags, rather than the cardboard boxes allegedly required under Honduran law. When the $4 million shipment arrived, NMFS agents seized it. McNab served eight years in prison, even though the Honduran government informed the court that the regulation requiring cardboard boxes had been repealed. How about this one? Four kindergartners — yes, 5-year-old boys — played cops and robbers at Wilson Elementary in New Jersey. One yelled: “Boom! I have a bazooka, and I want to shoot you.” He did not, of course, have a bazooka. Nevertheless, all four boys were suspended from school for three days for “making threats,” a violation of their school district’s zero-tolerance policy. …Palo Alto, Calif., ordered Kay Leibrand, a grandmother, to lower her carefully trimmed hedges. Leibrand argued that no one’s vision was obstructed and asked the code officer to take a look. He refused. Then the city dispatched two police officers. They arrested her, loaded her into a patrol car in front of her neighbors and hauled her down to the station. In 2001, honor student Lindsay Brown parked her car in the wrong spot at her high school. A county police officer looked inside and saw a kitchen knife — a butter knife with a rounded tip. Because Lindsay was on school property, she had violated the zero-tolerance policy for knives. She was arrested, handcuffed and hauled off to county jail where she spent nine hours on a felony weapons possession charge. School Principal Fred Bode told a local paper, “A weapon is a weapon.”

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: