Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘nanny state’

The Associated Press has a thorough story looking at the utter failure in the War on Drugs. In part, this is a predictable result of government incompetence, akin to the War on Poverty. And just as the so-called War on Poverty has negative side effects such as increased dependency, the War on Drugs has negative said effects including lots of wasteful government spending. I’m personally very anti-drug, and if I ever catch any of my kids doing drugs, they’ll be sorry, but that doesn’t mean the government should be involved. Let’s look at some of the key excerpts from the article, beginning with a look at the overall cost and an admission that all the added spending hasn’t generated any positive results:

After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread. Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked. “In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,” Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. …President Richard M. Nixon seized on a new war he thought he could win. “This nation faces a major crisis in terms of the increasing use of drugs, particularly among our young people,” Nixon said as he signed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The following year, he said: “Public enemy No. 1 in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.” His first drug-fighting budget was $100 million. Now it’s $15.1 billion, 31 times Nixon’s amount even when adjusted for inflation.

Experts who have looked at the issue say criminalization is bad policy, costing lives, expanding government, and misallocating law enforcement resources:

Using Freedom of Information Act requests, archival records, federal budgets and dozens of interviews with leaders and analysts, the AP tracked where that money went, and found that the United States repeatedly increased budgets for programs that did little to stop the flow of drugs. …Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse. …Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron says the only sure thing taxpayers get for more spending on police and soldiers is more homicides. “Current policy is not having an effect of reducing drug use,” Miron said, “but it’s costing the public a fortune.” …The dealers who are caught have overwhelmed justice systems in the United States and elsewhere. U.S. prosecutors declined to file charges in 7,482 drug cases last year, most because they simply didn’t have the time. That’s about one out of every four drug cases. ……A full 10 percent of Mexico’s economy is built on drug proceeds — $25 billion smuggled in from the United States every year, of which 25 cents of each $100 smuggled is seized at the border. \

The good news is that there is growing interest in a free-market/libertarian approach:

A decade ago, no politician who wanted to keep his job would breathe a word about legalization, but a consensus is growing across the country that at least marijuana will someday be regulated and sold like tobacco and alcohol. California voters decide in November whether to legalize marijuana, and South Dakota will vote this fall on whether to allow medical uses of marijuana, already permitted in California and 13 other states.

Unfortunately, Obama seems to have little interest in a more rational policy, even though he admits drug use when he was young. As usual, politicians get to live their lives using one set of rules while imposing a different set of rules on everyone else:

Obama is requesting a record $15.5 billion for the drug war for 2011, about two thirds of it for law enforcement at the front lines of the battle: police, military and border patrol agents struggling to seize drugs and arrest traffickers and users. …Until 100 years ago, drugs were simply a commodity. …In 1904, an Episcopal bishop returning from a mission in the Far East argued for banning opium after observing “the natives’ moral degeneration.” In 1914, The New York Times reported that cocaine caused blacks to commit “violent crimes,” and that it made them resistant to police bullets. …a young Barack Obama was one of those young users, a teenager smoking pot and trying “a little blow when you could afford it,” as he wrote in “Dreams From My Father.” When asked during his campaign if he had inhaled the pot, he replied: “That was the point.” So why persist with costly programs that don’t work?

Read Full Post »

I’m not even sure what to say about this story about new legislation being proposed that would have the federal government track the “Body Mass Index” of American children and spend lots of money and impose lots of rules to reduce childhood obesity. I certainly don’t want to be in favor of chubby kids, but I’m much more worried about fat government. There is no authority anywhere in the Constitution for this type of effort. There is no evidence that the federal government would have any success in this type of scheme (how’s that “War on Poverty” going?). And there is also a small issue of whether this is more properly an issue for parents rather than bureaucrats. To get your blood boiling, here’s an excerpt from the CNS report:

States receiving federal grants provided for in the bill would be required to annually track the Body Mass Index of all children ages 2 through 18. The grant-receiving states would be required to mandate that all health care providers in the state determine the Body Mass Index of all their patients in the 2-to-18 age bracket and then report that information to the state government. The state government, in turn, would be required to report the information to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for analysis. The Healthy Choices Act–introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee–would establish and fund a wide range of programs and regulations aimed at reducing obesity rates by such means as putting nutritional labels on the front of food products, subsidizing businesses that provide fresh fruits and vegetables, and collecting BMI measurements of patients and counseling those that are overweight or obese.

Read Full Post »

Here’s a bit of good news to begin the weekend. Arizona politicians have been forced to suspend a statewide speed camera program. I’m especially pleased to see that civil disobedience played a role in forcing politicians to pull the plug on the Orwellian system. Here’s an excerpt from the news:

Arizona is ending a groundbreaking and contentious program that put speed cameras along Phoenix-area freeways and in vans deployed across the state. Opponents have argued the cameras open the door for wider “Big Brother” surveillance and are more about making money than safety. The program has been the target of an initiative measure proposed for the November ballot. Even Gov. Jan Brewer has said she doesn’t like the cameras, and her intention to end the program was first disclosed in her January budget proposal. That was followed by a non-renewal letter sent by the Arizona Department of Public Safety this week to the private company that runs the program. Scottsdale-based Redflex said Thursday that the 36 fixed cameras will be turned off and the 40 vans taken off highways on July 16, the day after its state contract expires. …The camera program was instituted by Brewer’s predecessor, Janet Napolitano, now the Homeland Security secretary. Cameras were introduced in September 2008 and were added until all 76 were up and running by January 2009. …Napolitano estimated that the program would bring in $90 million revenue in its first year, but actual revenue fell far short as many motorists ignored notices received in the mail. …The end of the state program does not affect local governments’ use of cameras for speed enforcement, but the proposed ballot measure would prohibit state and local governments from using cameras for both speed violations and red-light running.

Read Full Post »

I’m not even sure what to say about this story. Politicians apparently think that they have the right to impose their personal preferences on other people, regardless of whether the issue is big or small. How else to explain the thuggish proposal of a headline-seeking sleazy pol who wants to ban Happy Meals at McDonalds?

Convinced that Happy Meals and other food promotions aimed at children could make kids fat as well as happy, county officials in Silicon Valley are poised to outlaw the little toys that often come with high-calorie offerings. The proposed ban is the latest in a growing string of efforts to change the types of foods aimed at youngsters and the way they are cooked and sold. Across the nation, cities, states and school boards have taken aim at excessive sugar, salt and certain types of fats. Believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the proposal would forbid the inclusion of a toy in any restaurant meal that has more than 485 calories, more than 600 mg of salt or high amounts of sugar or fat. In the case of McDonald’s, the limits would include all of the chain’s Happy Meals — even those that include apple sticks instead of French fries. …The California Restaurant Assn. has taken out full-page newspaper advertisements against the proposed ordinance in local newspapers. One shows a little girl with her hands cuffed behind her back as she holds a stuffed animal. Another opponent wrote in a YouTube posting, “I want to know when the pitchforks and torches and rope is going to come out…. We need to run these Frankenstein politician monsters the hell out of town!”

Read Full Post »

No, that’s not the name of a new TV series. We should be so lucky. Instead, it’s a good description of the government’s approach to tobacco. Instead of letting adults make up their own minds about costs and benefits of risky choices (which includes most things in life, such as crossing a street and eating a cheeseburger), nanny-state officials have decided to investigate menthol-flavored cigarettes. And since the Food and Drug Administration has been given authority over the tobacco industry and since the FDA’s supposed purpose is to ensure drugs are “safe and effective,” that almost certainly means this latest campaign will lead to either further restrictions on free speech or outright bans. Here’s a blurb from the Wall Street Journal:

Congress last year added the tobacco industry to the FDA’s regulatory mix and today a panel of health experts making up the agency’s new Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee is kicking off a two-day meeting. First on the agenda: how menthol flavoring in cigarettes affects smokers’ habits. Small wonder that menthol is getting early attention, says the New York Times, which notes menthol butts account for almost a third of the $70 billion U.S. cigarette market. After more meetings, the advisory panel will send recommendations to the FDA, which could eventually decide to ban menthol products or take steps to curtail their marketing.

One can only wonder how far down the slope we will slide. There already are attacks against fatty foods and sugary soft drinks. Both provide pleasure to many people, but that no longer means much in Washington. Will regulators, either at the FDA or elsewhere, eventually decide that anything linked to obesity must be regulated and/or taxed? And now that government is going to pick up the tab for an even larger share of health costs, how long before the politicians use obesity-related costs as a major justification for further efforts to control our private lives? Maybe some day we will have a Federal Health Police to enforce daily exercise mandates? I better stop now before I give them any ideas.

Read Full Post »

I’m not sure how to categorize this story from England. Local governments are surreptitiously adding microchips to garbage cans to weigh the amount of rubbish each household is unloading according to a report in the Daily Mail. It is generally thought that this is the beginning stage of a government tax based on weight, though it’s also possible it could be somehow used to monitor intrusive recycling rules:

The growing threat of a stealth tax on the rubbish we throw away was exposed by startling figures yesterday. More than 2.5million homes now have wheelie bins fitted with microchips to weigh their contents. This is an increase of nearly two-thirds in just a year. The bins, which can be electronically identified and weighed, are designed for ‘pay-as-you-throw’ rubbish tax schemes. …Disclosure of the rapid spread of chipped bins followed the announcement this week of the first council to bring in a bin tax. Bristol City is presenting its scheme as a reward for recyclers, with cash payments to homes that leave out less rubbish. …research by the Big Brother Watch campaign group showed that the use of chipped bins has quietly spread over the past year. In March 2009, a survey based on Freedom of Information inquiries showed there were 42 councils which used bins with microchips. But the latest check, also based on FOI requests, put the number of authorities with electronic bins at 68 – one in five of all those that collect household rubbish. According to the responses from town halls, 2,629,052 homes have now been given bins with chips. …Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘The number of local councils placing microchips in bins is increasing, despite the fact that only one of them has volunteered to trial the Government’s pay-as-you-throw scheme. ‘Councils are waiting until the public aren’t watching to begin surveillance on our waste habits, intruding into people’s private lives and introducing punitive taxes on what we throw away. The British public doesn’t want this technology, these fines, or this intrusion. ‘If local authorities have no intention to monitor our waste then they should end the surreptitious installation of these bin microchips.’

Read Full Post »

Since I don’t like nuisance taxation and mindless bureaucracy, I’ve never been a big fan of having to get a license for pet dogs and cats. But the folks across the pond have pushed this to a new level and are considering licenses for dog owners. These so-called competency tests in the United Kingdom are just the tip of the iceberg. Owners would be required to insert microchips (in the animals, though I shudder to think what’s next) and buy insurance in case their pets attacked someone. The actual motive for this extremist proposal is to inconvenience owners of pit bulls and other dangerous breeds. But in typical government fashion, they refuse to directly tackle a problem and instead impose high costs on everyone. Needless to say, it is highly unlikely that the new people-licensing rules will have any affect on the cretins who actually do own certain breeds for the wrong reasons. The Daily Mail reports:

Every dog owner will have to take a costly ‘competence test’ to prove they can handle their pets, under new Government proposals designed to curb dangerous dogs. Owners of all breeds would also have to buy third-party insurance in case their pet attacked someone, and pay for the insertion of a microchip in their animal recording their name and address. …critics said responsible dog owners would be penalised by yet more red tape and higher bills – one expert estimated the extra costs at £60 or more – while irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs would just ignore the measures. …Under the proposals, would-be owners would have to show they had a basic understanding of their dogs before being allowed to keep one. The document says: ‘There have been suggestions for a competency test for all or some dog owners, akin to the driving theory test.’ But the document admits the cost of setting up such a scheme to cover Britain’s six million dog owners ‘is likely to be prohibitive’, and would have to be met by either charging for the test or by imposing a dog licence fee.

Read Full Post »

I can’t believe I missed this stary from last October. The food Nazis in New York City have banned bake sales. This cripples fundraising for student groups, but that presumably is a small price to pay so that politicians get an opportunity for a few hollow sound bites about childhood obesity. Of course, if the politicians really want to do something about overweight kids, they could arrest the parents and destroy all televisions sets, video games, and computers in private homes. But maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas. The New York Times has the odious details:

There shall be no cupcakes. No chocolate cake and no carrot cake. According to New York City’s latest regulations, not even zucchini bread makes the cut. …the Education Department has effectively banned most bake sales, the lucrative if not quite healthy fund-raising tool for generations of teams and clubs. The change is part of a new wellness policy that also limits what can be sold in vending machines and student-run stores, which use profits to help finance activities like pep rallies and proms. …Unsurprisingly, the rationale is getting a cool reception among students. At Fiorello H. La Guardia High School on the Upper West Side, students are used to having bake sales several times a month. Now, Yardain Amron, a sophomore basketball player, laments that his team will not be able to raise money for a new scoreboard. Another La Guardia student, Eli Salamon-Abrams, 14, said that when the soccer team held a bake sale in May, his blueberry muffins sold out in 15 minutes. He said of the ban: “I think it’s kind of pointless. I mean, why can’t we have bake sales?” The new policy also requires that vending machines, which generate millions of dollars for school sports, be supplied with snacks such as reduced-fat Baked Doritos and low-sugar granola bars. A new vending machine contract is expected to be approved on Wednesday by the Panel for Educational Policy, the school oversight board. Student stores will be able to sell only approved snacks bought from the new vendor, rather than obtain the food themselves, as they once did. …Department officials are suggesting that teams use walk-a-thons and similar activities as a way of raising money and doing something active.

Read Full Post »

A story from the U.K.’s Daily Mail shocked me for two reasons. First, a supermarket has announced that it won’t offer valuable savings on infant formula because it violates European law. Apparently, there are lots of bored bureaucrats in Brussels who apparently have nothing better to do than concoct such inane policies. That was bad enough, but the story also reveals that the government sends bureaucrats to the homes of new mothers to badger them back in the workforce (presumably to pay taxes to support needless bureaucrats). Can anyone from England tell me if this is a mandatory program? Do families have to accept visits from these baby-ogling bureaucrats?

New mothers are being denied valuable money saving offers on infant milk formula because of ‘politically correct’ pressure to breast feed. Boots says it cannot award loyalty points on milk for newborns because it is against EU law to ‘promote’ bottle feeding. …Under European legislation, Boots and other stores with loyalty schemes can be penalised by trading standards officers for ‘incentives’ to buy formula milk for babies up to six months. …Health visitors sent to help new mothers have been told to ask them when they will go back to work. They have been instructed to find out about job plans as part of routine checks on the health of the baby. The pressure on mothers to think about an early return to work has come as part of a Government drive to widen the role of health visitors. But their union last night called the edict ‘unethical’, while mothers said the intrusive questioning made them feel guilty for wanting to stay at home to look after their families.

Read Full Post »

The Union Leader newspaper in New Hampshire has a correct view of the absurd $130 million “census awareness budget,” inlcuding the reprehensible decision to squander $2.5 million on an ad during the Super Bowl. It’s bad enough that the Census has evolved into an exercise in nanny-state intrusion, rather than the simple head-counting exercise as our Founders envisioned. But it adds insult to injury (or should it be injury to insult?) that our tax dollars are being wasted to publicize the exercise. Anybody want to guess whether the public relations agency that got the contract for this boondoggle donated money to Obama?

Did you see that Super Bowl ad for the U.S. Census? If not, too bad, because you paid $2.5 million for it. Maybe you can catch it on YouTube. If you think that’s outrageous, it gets worse. The $2.5 million is just 1.9 percent of the government’s $130 million “census awareness budget.” Oh, yes. Just in case you didn’t know that Census Bureau workers will be coming to your home this year to do what they have done every 10 years for more than two centuries, Washington is spending $130 million of your money to tell you. …It’s also par for the course in a Washington so awash in money that $130 million isn’t considered serious spending, and yet the government still manages to outspend revenues by $1.6 trillion.

Read Full Post »

An earlier post poked fun at green-friendly sex toys. In the same spirit, let’s now look at the enviro-fanatic campaign against soft toilet paper. For those of you who have had the pleasure of traveling abroad, you have probably had the less-than-satisfactory experience of…well, let’s just say the mixed experience of using inadequate bathroom paper products. It’s not quite as bad as using wax paper, but it definitely falls short of the comfort – and ultimate cleanliness – of an American bathroom. It definitely would be a step in the wrong direction if substandard products were imposed on Americans. Heck, that may just be the beginning. Limousine liberals such as Cheryl Crow want us to use just one square of toilet paper. And let’s not forget the toilet paper police that will be necessary to enforce this policy. So imagine a future world where we get to use one square of crummy toilet paper. Is it any surprise that we will be less likely to be attracted to a significant other, or for a significant other to be attracted to us. Give the left credit for thinking ahead. Sex toys will be far more popular in that world. Here’s a news report about the toilet paper fight:

The issue over tissue in the bathroom — the really super-soft stuff — is more like the fight about the big SUVs loved by many Americans. Anti-green, according to environmentalists. Politically incorrect. Why should Americans use luxurious toilet paper made from old-growth trees when much of the world gets by with a far more basic and often recycled product? …Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups have pushed manufacturers such as Kimberly-Clark (Cottonelle) and Procter & Gamble (Charmin) to stop using wood from virgin forests to make tissue products. Mountains of paper are dumped every day into recycling bins in homes, offices, factories and schools. Use that to make toilet paper, the activists said. …The problem, though, is that each time paper is shredded during the recycling process, its fibers get shorter. The shorter the fiber, the less soft the tissue. And Americans, though indicating in surveys that they embraced green initiatives, also said they don’t want to sacrifice comfort.

Read Full Post »

We just posted about a crazy idea from England to give each person a carbon allowance. A few months ago, we posted about the government in the U.K. interfering with two mothers who take turns babysitting each other’s children. Now we have a story from the Times about bureaucrats wanting to barge into people’s homes and maintain databases to see whether they are being government-approved parents. This brings nanny-state fascism to a new low:

Health and safety inspectors are to be given unprecedented access to family homes to ensure that parents are protecting their children from household accidents. New guidance drawn up at the request of the Department of Health urges councils and other public sector bodies to “collect data” on properties where children are thought to be at “greatest risk of unintentional injury”. …The draft guidance by a committee at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has been criticised as intrusive and further evidence of the “creeping nanny state”. …Nice also recommends the creation of a new government database to allow GPs, midwives and other officials who visit homes to log health and safety concerns they spot. …Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is a huge intervention into family life which will be counter-productive. “Good parents will feel the intrusion of the state in their homes and bad parents will now have someone else to blame if they don’t bring up their children in a sensible, safe environment.”

Read Full Post »

This is almost beyond parody. The head of the U.K.’s Environment Agency actually wants to track everyone’s carbon use and make them pay extra is they have an “extravagent lifestyle.” The Telegraph reports on this odious bit of cloying fascism:

Lord Smith of Finsbury believes that implementing individual carbon allowances for every person will be the most effective way of meeting the targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It would involve people being issued with a unique number which they would hand over when purchasing products that contribute to their carbon footprint, such as fuel, airline tickets and electricity. Like with a bank account, a statement would be sent out each month to help people keep track of what they are using. …Lord Smith will call for the scheme to be part of a “Green New Deal” to be introduced within 20 years when he addresses the agency’s annual conference on Monday. …Ruth Lea, an economist from Arbuthnot Banking Group, told the Daily Mail: “This is all about control of the individual and you begin to wonder whether this is what the green agenda has always been about. It’s Orwellian. This will be an enormous tax on business.”

Read Full Post »

The war against drugs certainly has been good for government, with bigger budgets, more bureaucracy, and new powers.

But does it have any positive impact, even from the perspective of people (like me) who think drug use has a net negative impact on both users and society?

The answer, almost surely, is no. A recent article from The Economist finds that marijuana use is very low in Portugal, even though most drugs – including heroin and cocaine – were decriminalized in 2001.

So if the Drug War has lots of bad consequences and no good consequences, isn’t it time to stop? After all, if you’re in a hole, doesn’t it make sense to stop digging?

Read Full Post »

Politicians in Washington have a nasty habit of assuming that they should control every aspect of life, and education is a good example. Bush thought he could demonstrate “compassion” by spendinng a lot of money to centralize education policy in Washington, so we got saddled with the No-Bureaucrat-Left-Behind education bill. Now Obama is trying to be Bush on steroids, increasing spending even more and proposing to micro-manage local school districts by dictating school calendars. It may very well be the case that summer vacations should be shortened, but that is none of Obama’s business. Moreover, the AP story on the issue notes that other nations get much better performance with less time in school – which is why decentralization and choice are the right ways of discovering the right way(s) of providing better education:

Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way. …The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go. …While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it’s not true they all spend more time in school. Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).

Read Full Post »

A grandmother in Indiana has been arrested for purchasing cold medicine. We can all sleep more safely now that this hardened criminal has been taught a lesson. The Terre Haute News reports:

When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs. Now, Harpold is trying to clear her name of criminal charges, and she is speaking out in hopes that a law will change so others won’t endure the same embarrassment she still is facing. …Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time. Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period. When the police came knocking at the door of Harpold’s Parke County residence on July 30, she was arrested on a Vermillion County warrant for a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.

Read Full Post »

While the federal bureaucracy is more dangerous because it generates misguided regulations that are imposed on the entire nation, state and local governments certainly are capable of equally foolish actions. Here’s a report about state bureaucrats in Michigan threatening a women for watching her neighbors’ kids while they wait for a bus:

A West Michigan woman says the state is threatening her with fines and possibly jail time for babysitting her neighbors’ children. Lisa Snyder of Middleville says her neighborhood school bus stop is right in front of her home. It arrives after her neighbors need to be at work, so she watches three of their children for 15-40 minutes until the bus comes. The Department of Human Services received a complaint that Snyder was operating an illegal child care home. DHS contacted Snyder and told her to get licensed, stop watching her neighbors’ kids, or face the consequences. “It’s ridiculous.” says Snyder. “We are friends helping friends!” She added that she accepts no money for babysitting. …State Representative Brian Calley is drafting legislation that would exempt people who agree to care for non-dependent children from daycare rules as long as they’re not engaged in a business. “We have babysitting police running around this state violating people, threatening to put them in jail or fine them $1,000 for helping their neighbor (that) is truly outrageous” says Rep. Calley.

Read Full Post »

First, the politicians forced us to buy low-volume toilets that require multiple flushes. Then they mandated that we use front-loading washing machines that don’t clean as well. Now, the parasites in Washington want to compel us to use light bulbs that don’t illuminate properly. A lighting expert explains in the Wall Street Journal – and also suggests that maybe the politicians should live under these rules before they impose them on the rest of us:

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will effectively phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012-2014 in favor of compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. Other countries around the world have passed similar legislation to ban most incandescents. Will some energy be saved? Probably. The problem is this benefit will be more than offset by rampant dissatisfaction with lighting. We are not talking about giving up a small luxury for the greater good. We are talking about compromising light. Light is fundamental. And light is obviously for people, not buildings. The primary objective in the design of any space is to make it comfortable and habitable. This is most critical in homes, where this law will impact our lives the most. …CFLs, which can be an excellent choice for some applications, are simply not an equivalent technology to incandescents in all applications. For example, if you have dimmers used for home theater or general ambience, you must buy a compatible dimmable CFL, which costs more, and even then it may not work as desired on your dimmers. How environmental will it be for frustrated homeowners to remove and dispose of thousands of dimmers? What’s more, CFLs work best in light fixtures designed for CFLs, and may not fit, provide desired service life, or distribute light in the same pleasing pattern as incandescents. How environmental will it be for homeowners to tear out and install new light fixtures? …Here’s my modest proposal to determine whether the legislation actually serves people. Satisfy the proposed power limits in all public buildings, from museums, houses of worship and hospitals to the White House and the homes of all elected officials. Of course, this will include replacing all incandescents with CFLs. At the end of 18 months, we would check to be certain that the former lighting had not been reinstalled, and survey all users to determine satisfaction with the resulting lighting.

Read Full Post »

In a new mini-documentary released by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, I explain several of the ways that government spending hinders economic growth.

Read Full Post »

The Wall Street Journal opines about the Department of Housing and Urban Development extorting a local community into engaging in a perverse form of racial/social engineering. Apparently, the bureaucrats in Washington are upset that people self-segregate on the basis of income (which the pencil-pushers magically equate with racism even though well-to-do minorities have no problem living in nicer neighborhoods. The real lesson here, though, is that the Department of Housing and Urban Development should be dismantled. It is not the job of the federal government to subsidize housing. The nanny-state social engineering is just the insult added to injury:

The bad news is that Westchester County, the sprawling suburb just north of New York City, has been pressured to settle a federal lawsuit brought by liberal activists over “affordable” housing. The worse news is that the Obama Administration wants the settlement to be a template for the rest of the nation. The three-year-old lawsuit alleged that Westchester had accepted federal housing funds but failed to provide enough affordable housing and reduce segregation in some of its wealthier communities, such as Scarsdale and Chappaqua, home to Bill and Hillary Clinton. In February a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan ruled that Westchester’s integration efforts were insufficient, and rather than risk losing out on more federal money, county officials struck a deal with the Department of Housing and Urban Development this week. Within seven years, the county will construct or acquire 750 homes or apartments, 630 of which must be located in communities that are less than 3% black and 7% Hispanic. “We’re clearly messaging other jurisdictions across the country that there has been a significant change in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and we’re going to ask them to pursue similar goals as well,” said HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims. …Blacks have long populated Westchester towns such as White Plains, New Rochelle and Mount Vernon, and the Administration is assuming that low percentages of racial and ethnic minorities in places like Scarsdale are a result of discrimination. Yet there’s no pattern of fair housing complaints or other evidence showing that black families with incomes similar to whites in more upscale neighborhoods were barred from those jurisdictions. History also demonstrates that racial and ethnic minorities have incurred far less resistance when they move into neighborhoods where they can afford to live. The black and Latino suburban population is increasing steadily as the household incomes of those groups rise. But social engineers who want to force the issue risk creating more problems than they solve. Most people believe in integrated neighborhoods provided they’re a consequence of genuine choice, not the government deciding where it wants people to live.

Read Full Post »

This may not be as important as an IRS agent killing a small business with an audit. And we can certainly imagine dismal scenes of bureaucrats denying health care to sick people in America’s future, and those also would be more important. But when a city official shuts down a lemonade stand because an eight-year old girl did not have a license to operate a busines, that surely is a symbol of government that is both stupid and overbearing:

Eight-year-old Daniela Earnest has made lemonade out of lemons in more ways than one this week. Hoping to raise money for a family trip to Disneyland, the Tulare girl opened a lemonade stand Monday. But because Daniela didn’t have a business license, the city of Tulare shut it down the same day. …The story began Monday morning when Daniela and her stepmother, Marisa Earnest, set up shop at Cartmill Avenue and Hillman Street in north Tulare. The lemonade was freshly squeezed and priced at $2 for a 32-ounce plastic cup. Richard Garcia, a Tulare code enforcement officer, happened to be at the same intersection… Garcia told Daniela and her stepmother that their lemonade stand — on the northwest corner of the busy intersection — was not safe, and also that they needed a business license to sell lemonade.

Read Full Post »

A report at CBSnews.com highlights the growing interest among politicians and bureaucrats in new taxes on sugary drinks, including sports drinks such as Gatorade. This is a reprehensible example of nanny-state intervention, of course, but it shows the risk of having government involved in health care since politicians then assert the right to tell us how to live:

…one of the proposals put before the committee received a nod of approval from health officials today: taxing soda. The [Senate Finance] committee — the last congressional panel expected to produce its own recommendations for health care reform – listened to arguments earlier this year both for and against imposing a three-cent tax on sodas as well as other sugary drinks, including energy and sports drinks like Gatorade. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a three-cent tax would generate $24 billion over the next four years, and proponents of the tax argued before the committee that it would lower consumption of sugary drinks and improve Americans’ overall health. …CDC chief Dr. Thomas Freiden said increasing the price of unhealthy foods “would be effective” at combating the nation’s obesity problem… The American Beverage Association, which strongly opposes the tax, told the Wall Street Journal the tax would hit poor Americans the hardest.  

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, has a similar report about politicians wanting a tax on foods that supposedly lead to obesity. The reason for their interest, not surprisingly, is that a 10 percent tax on such foods may lead to more than $500 billion, which doubtlessly is leading to lots of salivating on Capitol Hill:

Key among the “interventions” the report weighs is that of imposing an excise or sales tax on fattening foods. That, says the report, could be expected to lower consumption of those foods. But it would also generate revenues that could be used to extend health insurance coverage to the uninsured and under-insured, and perhaps to fund campaigns intended to make healthy foods more widely available to, say, low-income Americans and to encourage exercise and healthy eating habits. …a 2004 report prepared for the Department of Agriculture suggested that, for “sinful-food” taxes to change the way people eat, they may need to equal at least 10% to 30% of the cost of the food. And although 40 U.S. states now impose modest extra sales taxes on soft drinks and a few snack items, the Urban Institute report suggests that a truly forceful “intervention” — one that would drive down the consumption of fattening foods and, presumably, prevent or reverse obesity — would have to target pretty much all the fattening and nutritionally empty stuff we eat: “With a more narrowly targeted tax, consumers could simply substitute one fattening food or beverage for another,” the reports says. …Conservatively estimated, a 10% tax levied on foods that would be defined as “less healthy” by a national standard adopted recently in Great Britain could yield $240 billion in its first five years and $522 billion over 10 years of implementation — if it were to begin in October 2010. If lawmakers instituted a program of tax subsidies to encourage the purchase of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, the added revenue would still be $356 billion over 10 years.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: