Free Markets, Free People

Nanny State

Fat tax: Do the ends justify the means?

Or are they just another example of unjustified government overreach and a loss of freedom?

The question – who should decide what you eat?   You or the government?

In Denmark, it appears the government will decide:

Denmark has introduced what’s believed to be the world’s first fat food tax, applying a surcharge to foods with more than 2.3 percent saturated fats, in an effort to combat obesity and heart disease.

Danes accordingly hoarded the foods which will see increased taxes, buying out stores which carried them. 

Who should decide your diet?

The new tax of 16 kroner ($2.90) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saturated fat in a product will be levied on foods like butter, milk, cheese, pizza, oils and meat.

Obviously the Danish government isn’t saying you can’t eat these things, but it is saying it will make it markedly more expensive to do so.   And, of course, those it hits hardest with this sort of tax are those who can least afford it.

“We get the taxes, but never a reduction on anything to complement the increases, such as  on healthy foods,” said Clausen.

End result – those with less income will be able to afford less meat, oil, milk etc.

But that’s not the main point, of course.  It is government deciding something as basic as what you’ll be able to put in your mouth.  And it all derives from one thing – the fact that in the case of health care, the Danish government, via intrusion in that area long ago, now justifies its further intrusion in the name of “public health”.  Once a people allow that, all sorts of intrusion is then “justified” under the guise of “public health” or driving the cost of health care down.

“Denmark finds every sort of way to increase our taxes,” said Alisa Clausen, a South Jutland resident. “Why should the government decide how much fat we eat? They also want to increase the tobacco price very significantly. In theory this is good — it makes unhealthy items expensive so that we do not consume as much or any and that way the health system doesn’t use a lot of money on patients who become sick from overuse of fat and tobacco.  However, these taxes take on a big brother feeling.  We should not be punished by taxes on items the government decides we should not use.”

But that right – the right to decide what they eat – was given up by Dane’s decades ago when they voluntarily gave up the right to decide their means of health care for the convenience of a government single payer system.

Liberty traded for convenience and security.  The problem, as always, is the trade is never complete with the first installment.   Give up the right to your health care options and you’ll eventually give up your right to decide on what you eat.  Etc.

What Ms. Clausen points out is a dawning awareness that Danes have done exactly that. Taxes, instead of being a means of raising revenue to fund government, have become a tool of social engineering.  And while she acknowledges the supposed good intentions involved she seems to have recognized what she’s traded for them.  And I think she’s beginning to realize how much worse it can (and most likely will) get.

If you think Denmark is an isolated example of this pernicious threat to liberty, think again:

Speaking on the government’s role in diet and health last week, Bloomberg told the UN General Assembly, “There are powers only governments can exercise, policies only governments can mandate and enforce and results only governments can achieve. To halt the worldwide epidemic of non-communicable diseases, governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option. That is ultimately government’s highest duty.”

Earlier in his address Bloomberg lauded the past dietary efforts of NYC, “In 2009 we enacted the first restriction on cholesterol-free artificial trans fat in the city’s food service establishments. Our licensing of street green card producer/vendors has greatly increased the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods with high rates of diet related diseases. And we’ve led a national salt reduction initiative and engaged 28 food manufacturers, supermarkets and restaurant chains to voluntarily commit to reducing excessive amounts of sodium in their products. ”

In the end, the only guardian of your liberty is you.  And it is the nature of government to pursue power.   The two must clash.   Sometimes a loss of liberty may seem to be a good thing initially, such as when Danes traded their liberty to make their own health care decisions for the security of the government doing so.  But, as mentioned, it never stops there, does it?   Once you begin trading liberty for security, government decides when that trading stops, not you.

Denmark is just the first.  Michael Bloomberg describes the future as we’re allowing it to be set – trading liberty for security, and in the end, getting neither.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Irene–hurricane of hype?

What a weekend.  Hurricane Irene, the most hyped hurricane since Katrina, lived up to its billing … as a category 3 hurricane.   In other words, it did what you’d expect a cat 3 to do.  But if you listened too the press and government officials, this was a mega-storm, a storm that was the “harbinger of a change in climate” as the NY Times breathlessly claimed.

Instead it turned out to be a pretty ordinary hurricane that did indeed do some damage, but no more than a normal cat 3 (although it did make landfall twice) and it unfortunately killed some people, but mostly in freak accidents.  Finally, it blew out, downgraded to a tropical storm, before it ever reached New York City.

However the spectacle created on-shore by the approach of the hurricane was something to behold.  It had to be at least category 6.  We have a president with plummeting poll numbers taking “command” at the National Hurricane Center.  And we have the press out and about, trying to make the storm much more than it was:

For the television reporter, clad in his red cagoule emblazoned with the CNN logo, it was a dramatic on-air moment, broadcasting live from Long Island, New York during a hurricane that also threatened Manhattan.

“We are in, right, now…the right eye wall, no doubt about that…there you see the surf,” he said breathlessly. “That tells a story right there.”

Stumbling and apparently buffeted by ferocious gusts, he took shelter next to a building. “This is our protection from the wind,” he explained. “It’s been truly remarkable to watch the power of the ocean here.”

The surf may have told a story but so too did the sight behind the reporter of people chatting and ambling along the sea front and just goofing around. There was a man in a t-shirt, a woman waving her arms and then walking backwards. Then someone on a bicycle glided past.

So much for Irene the storm.  What was all the hype about?

A couple things seem apparent.   Politically the storm was seen as a, forgive the word choice, windfall.  It was something which would allow the government to prove its worth, to demonstrate the lessons it had learned since Katrina (funny that this is the first hurricane since Katrina on which this could be “demonstrated”).  It also gave the president national face time (speech), a way to demonstrate leadership (without risk) and hopefully a surge in the polls.  The compliant press was glad to go along:

The White House sent out 25 Irene emails to the press on Saturday alone.

There were photographs of President Barack Obama touring disaster centres and footage of him asking sombre, pertinent questions. With his poll ratings plummeting, Obama needed to project an aura of seriousness and command. He was all too aware that the political fortunes of his predecessor George W Bush never recovered after the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005.

The press mostly reported the message the White House had carefully crafted: “Obama takes charge” read the headline of one wire service story.

Instead, it all turned out, it seems, to have been a giant over-reaction.  We’ve handled numerous cat 3 (and higher) hurricanes throughout our history without all the governmental drama and dire warnings.  One can only factor sinking poll numbers into this particular event to have it make any sense.

Then there was the global warning crowd who seems bent on using any weather event as a “harbinger” of things to come because of wicked, evil humans and their carbon drenched lifestyles.  And they end up trying to use a fairly ordinary cat 3 hurricane as their example.  But, of course, the hurricane seasons of the past few years have been a bit of a disappointment to those types, hasn’t it? Fewer storms and of a lesser intensity.  You know your theory is bankrupt when you’re reduced to hyping a cat 3 as Justin Gillis did in the New York Times:

The scale of Hurricane Irene, which could cause more extensive damage along the Eastern Seaboard than any storm in decades, is reviving an old question: are hurricanes getting worse because of human-induced climate change?

The simple answer to the question seems to be – “no”.

But that doesn’t stop the alarmists from using this occasion to tar the skeptical side with ad hominem attacks instead of facts.

Paul Krugman publishes pure fiction:

In fact, if you follow climate science at all you know that the main development over the past few years has been growing concern that projections of future climate are underestimating the likely amount of warming. Warnings that we may face civilization-threatening temperature change by the end of the century, once considered outlandish, are now coming out of mainstream research groups.

And, of course Al Gore is reduced to calling skeptics the equivalent of racists.

Back to Krugman though.  As I’ve followed it, climate science seems to be saying exactly the opposite of is assertion seems to be true. A) it seems most scientists are becoming more aware of how much we don’t know about the climate (certainly not enough to be drawing the conclusions being drawn), B) the CERN study seems to put “broken” on the alarmist modeling which has driven the AGW crowd’s argument (I won’t dignify it with the word “theory”) and C) if anything, science now sees the possibility of a cooling trend, not a warming trend.

But you have to actually “follow climate science” to know that.

Meanwhile in Australia, a study is coming out that links mental illness to climate change:

RATES of mental illnesses including depression and post-traumatic stress will increase as a result of climate change, a report to be released today says.

The paper, prepared for the Climate Institute, says loss of social cohesion in the wake of severe weather events related to climate change could be linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.

As many as one in five people reported ”emotional injury, stress and despair” in the wake of these events.

Yeah, is the “emotional injury” a result of “climate change” or having your house, which shouldn’t have been built in a flood plane to begin with, washed away in a flood?  Obviously people are going to be emotionally injured when they lose their house.  But the same could be said about them if it burned down because of a grease fire.

These examples provide a look at two groups desperately casting around for favorable examples and coverage for themselves and their agendas.  Politicians who’ve now decided the new normal for weather events is to have a media event, and the AGW crowd who will use anything, absolutely anything, no matter how absurd, to try to revive their dying assertions.

Welcome to the hurricane of hype. 

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

It’s the collectivist that are the problem, not the individualists

I’m amazed at times by what I read in major daily newspapers.  OK, not as much now as I would have been say 10 or 15 years ago.   Maybe it’s just awareness on my part now, but as I get older I am confronted by what I see as half-baked opinion on the pages of such rags than I ever remember before.

Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I’m the one that’s gotten sharper over the years and am able to spot nonsense more easily than before.   Take for instance, Nina Power of the Guardian.   Power is a senior lecturer in philosophy at Roehampton University, so she can be forgiven for being somewhat removed from reality. In her opinion, which the Guardian gladly publishes, the problem of the riots in London and elsewhere can be laid at the feet of government and austerity policies.  Why?  Well let her explain:

Since the coalition came to power just over a year ago, the country has seen multiple student protests, occupations of dozens of universities, several strikes, a half-a-million-strong trade union march and now unrest on the streets of the capital (preceded by clashes with Bristol police in Stokes Croft earlier in the year). Each of these events was sparked by a different cause, yet all take place against a backdrop of brutal cuts and enforced austerity measures. The government knows very well that it is taking a gamble, and that its policies run the risk of sparking mass unrest on a scale we haven’t seen since the early 1980s. With people taking to the streets of Tottenham, Edmonton, Brixton and elsewhere over the past few nights, we could be about to see the government enter a sustained and serious losing streak.

It’s the “brutal cuts” and the “enforced austerity measures”.  Note she admits that “each of these events was sparked by a different cause”, however she then rejects that admission and claims that in reality they all come back to government cut backs.

Really?  It couldn’t be good old technology aided criminality could it?   Or something else completely?   Or a combination of other things altogether?

For instance, in the next paragraph, she says:

The policies of the past year may have clarified the division between the entitled and the dispossessed in extreme terms, but the context for social unrest cuts much deeper. The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan last Thursday, where it appears, contrary to initial accounts, that only police bullets were fired, is another tragic event in a longer history of the Metropolitan police’s treatment of ordinary Londoners, especially those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and the singling out of specific areas and individuals for monitoring, stop and search and daily harassment.

One journalist wrote that he was surprised how many people in Tottenham knew of and were critical of the IPCC, but there should be nothing surprising about this. When you look at the figures for deaths in police custody (at least 333 since 1998 and not a single conviction of any police officer for any of them), then the IPCC and the courts are seen by many, quite reasonably, to be protecting the police rather than the people.

Oh, so it could be all about police harassment then and nothing to do with “brutal cuts” or austerity?   It could be that the spark that lit this fire had to do with police treatment of minorities?  It certainly seems that is what she’s saying.  And of course the riots elsewhere could simply be copy-cat.  Criminal gangs who learned the methods used in Tottenham and deploying them elsewhere to loot and avoid the police?

Well, yes, it could be.  In fact, it could really have nothing at all to do with the “entitled and dispossessed”.

Combine understandable suspicion of and resentment towards the police based on experience and memory with high poverty and large unemployment and the reasons why people are taking to the streets become clear.

They do?  What’s clear is she’s bound and determined to link them, that’s for sure.  But clarity … yeah, not so much.

But that is necessary, even if not true, to conclude the following:

Those condemning the events of the past couple of nights in north London and elsewhere would do well to take a step back and consider the bigger picture: a country in which the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest, where consumerism predicated on personal debt has been pushed for years as the solution to a faltering economy, and where, according to the OECD, social mobility is worse than any other developed country.

As Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett point out in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, phenomena usually described as "social problems" (crime, ill-health, imprisonment rates, mental illness) are far more common in unequal societies than ones with better economic distribution and less gap between the richest and the poorest. Decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness – combined with a systematic crushing of unions and the ever-increasing criminalisation of dissent – have made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

All of that from a riot against police that one could conclude was a long time fermenting.   Recall the LA riots – was that because of “brutal cuts” and “enforced austerity measures”?  Was the looting that took place then a result of “decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness” or mobs taking advantage of the lawlessness the riots brought to loot what they wanted?

And even if she’s half right – what’s the solution she’d desire?  Well “equality” of course.   She’d rather trample the rights of those who’ve won “life’s lottery” (even though they worked their rear ends off to do so) and redistribute it to the poor and disenfranchised than ask the poor and disenfranchised to do what is necessary to give themselves a chance in life and quit demanding others do it for them.

Collectivism, although she never comes out and says it, is her answer.   And we’ve seen how well those equal societies did, didn’t we?  Well at least those of us who had been born before the collapse of the USSR and objectively observed the outcome.  

Yes, friends, a whole new generation of collectivists begin to rear their heads, some having never seen what the collectivism of the last century brought in terms of “equality” -  Equality of misery, equality of oppression and equality of hopelessness.

The problem in the UK isn’t austerity, it’s the results of collectivism and the fact that the inevitable outcome has begun.  It isn’t individualism that’s the fault.  It’s a massive state which robs people of incentive through it’s supposed benign acts of state sponsored charity.  Why strive if you will be taken care of whether you do or not?   Why seek food if you’re not hungry or don’t care what you eat?   Why take care of yourself if the state will do it for you?   And if you start running out of money, tax the rich bastards who want better.

Uncle Jimbo, at Blackfive, puts the exclamation mark on the real reason London is burning:

Liberal social policies have brought western civilization to the breaking point. They had the best of intentions, just ask them. But they, and sadly we, are getting a heaping dose of the law of unintended consequences. If you train an entire cohort of society to believe that the government doesn’t just offer a safety net but a way of life, well you get this- gangs of scum who will take what they want if the free lunch stops showing up. The chattering class is doing their level best to paint this as a legitimate reaction to dire economic times, and for once I agree with them. This is what happens when you run out of other people’s money.

By the way, this isn’t just a one-off bit of nonsense from Ms. Power.  She’s been quite active in the Guardian pages denouncing all sorts of things with titles such as “Don’t Assume the Police Are On Our Side”, which makes me wonder what “our side” might be, and “Happiness has been Consumed by Capitalism” which clarifies the sides.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Cell phone new "civil right"?

Well isn’t this freaking beautiful. If government isn’t taking your money for these stupid things, it extorting money (for which you eventually pay in the price of your service – see private health insurance and Medicare) for programs like this in the name of "rights" and "fairness":

Recently, a federal government program called the Universal Service Fund came to the Keystone State and some residents are thrilled because it means they can enjoy 250 minutes a month and a handset for free, just because they don’t have the money to pay for it. Through Assurance Wireless and SafeLink from Tracfone Wireless these folks get to reach out and touch someone while the cost of their service is paid for by everyone else. You see, the telecommunications companies are funding the Universal Service Fund to the tune of $4 billion a year because the feds said they have to and in order to recoup their money, the companies turn around and hike their fees to paying customers. But those of use paying for the free service for the poor, should be happy about this infuriating situation, says Gary Carter, manager of national partnerships for Assurance, because "the program is about peace of mind." Free cell service means "one less bill that someone has to pay, so they can pay their rent or for day care…it is a right to have peace of mind," Cater explained.

Dear boss, this demand for a raise that I haven’t earned or don’t deserve is about my right to have peace of mind. You see, I have other obligations I have undertaken and can’t afford, and so this raise will give me "peace of mind" when it comes to meeting those obligations – and it is your job to provide for my peace of mind … got it?

Yeah that approach would work on your boss, wouldn’t it.  Yet here again we the owners have those doing “service” dictating the terms of the agreement.  And we meekly go along.

What’s next?  The usual – more free stuff, this time “for the children”, extorted from the rest of us:

Between 14 million and 24 million Americans lack access to broadband, "and immediate prospects for deployment to them are bleak," the FCC said in a report last year. "Many of these Americans are poor or live in rural areas that will remain unserved without reform of the universal service program and other changes," the report said.

But who says that cheap or free broadband is anything more than a luxury?

Well, another Obama flunkie, Rahm Emanuel, that’s who. As we reported in June , the new mayor of Chicago was all excited to proclaim the wonderful news of free internet service to poor kids in Chicago’s worst neighborhoods. And how could Mayor Emanuel pay for this new ‘civil right’? Well, because the federal government extorted the money from Comcast when it wanted to buy NBC-Universal. Once again FCC chairman Genachowski was all about "helping the kids" by forcing the internet provider to give poor kids free netbooks, laptops, and internet service, indefinitely. And who is going to pay for this gift? Well, of course the rest of us poor saps who actually pay our bills.

You know, there are any number of ways to try to make broadband available to those who haven’t got it – but this isn’t it.

We’re such complacent dopes.  We put up with nonsense like this, allow the government to redefine rights and make us pay for their redefinition via taxes, increased prices or pure old extortion.

Amazing.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Dear Nannies — Stay out of my dining room (and every other room!)

Freedom is truly an unwanted chore for some people. Unfortunately they not only want to limit their own freedom, but yours too:

Some public health advocates are pushing cities and states to tax fattening, non-nutritious foods, like sugary soda, french fries, and donuts.

Opponents say Americans should have the right to eat what they want without being unfairly taxed for their choices, and that poor people would end up paying too much.

For the nation that created cheap, fast food, we’re paying quite a hefty toll, CBS News Correspondent Michelle Miller reported on "The Early Show."

When it comes to what we eat, many Americans are making bad choices.

Back to my basic freedom definition:   “Freedom is choice.”  Corollary:  Freedom also includes the right to make bad choices.  That’s right – as long as my choices don’t harm others or violate their basic rights, I should be free to make them.   And that, of course, means making choices others conclude are bad choices about what I eat.

But the nannies don’t see it that way.  And they somehow think they’ve been empowered by … whatever … to lobby government to make laws or enact punitive taxes in an attempt to limit your choices.   In a free country taxes are tolerated at best and are collected only to fund the legitimate functions of government.   That would not include limiting choices of what you can or can’t eat.   And it certainly wouldn’t use a tax as a social engineering tool, vs. a revenue tool for funding government.

Of course we’ve already done that once, haven’t we?   And that has opened the floodgates for the do-gooders.   It is also very enticing for governments starved for revenue, isn’t it?

Mark Bittman, author and food columnist, said, "We ought to start discouraging the consumption of junk food, soda, and hyper-processed foods the [same] way we discourage smoking."

Some industry experts, including Bittman, think soda and junk food should be taxed – just as cigarettes are.

Bittman said, "The way we discouraged smoking and continue to discourage smoking is we tax cigarettes – a lot in some states – and we force the tobacco companies to contribute money to anti-smoking programs.

"Now, if we taxed soda and junk food similarly, and began a huge public health campaign that said, ‘This is the way we ought to eat,’ we might see similar results."

Translation: “We’ve been telling people this for years and they’ve essentially ignored us.  Time to take their choices away.”  I.e. let’s limit their choices by taxing them so heavily they’d do what we want because they can’t afford to do what they’re doing anymore.

Oh, but don’t worry, the nannies are doing it for the poor:

Miller reported the aim is to institute a "junk food" tax and "whole food" subsidy – to raise the price of foods high in fat, calories and preservatives, and drop the cost of fresh vegetables, fruits and other organic perishables.

Yessiree – taxes and subsidies, how refreshingly new and innovative, no?   And as usual, that would involve government up to its armpits in the process, wouldn’t it?  And, of course, we’ve never witnessed bureaucratic creep before, have we?  When they get those taxes and subsides in place and you still ignore their desires for you, what’s the next step?  Restrictions on food companies?  Withholding health care?  None of that’s beyond the pale by any stretch.

This is pretty basic Freedom 101 stuff.   We’re not talking about anything particularly philosophically complex.   Freedom means the ability and right to make decisions on your own without interference from others (again, with the standard caveat that your choice does no harm to others or violate their rights).

As more and more choices are limited or denied us, we become less and less free.   We’re right in the middle of that now, as all should at least vaguely understand.   With each new tax designed to socially engineer our behavior into some elitist view of proper conformity, another piece of our freedom goes with it.

This may seem to be a trivial thing, but it is not.  It is another among many of those pernicious attempts by elitists who have a problem with free people making decisions they disagree with and having no problem enlisting the power of government to accomplish their goal.

It should be resisted utterly and completely with no compromise or quarter.  

This country was not founded to be a nanny.  It was founded to be the home of a free people.

[HT: Dan K.]

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

The second term of Jimmy Carter?

Charles Hurt at the Washington Times seems to think so:

It has taken three decades, but Americans are finally living through Jimmy Carter’s second term.

Now we’ve got Jimmy Jr. barking at us from the White House about eating our peas and ripping off our Band-Aid. He might not even let us have our Social Security checks.

These are just the latest in a long line of nagging lectures. Already, we have been taught how we should sneeze into the crook of our arm. We need to drive less. And we need to caulk up those drafty houses of ours.

What ever happened to the soaring rhetoric and big bold ideas President Obama promised us in that historic election of his?

Billy Hollis hit this very well the other day.  This is how intrusive government has become.  And as we all know, this has been an incremental thing taking years and years.  Yes, it’s more prevalent under Democrats but Republicans have done their share as well.  

I lived through the Carter presidency and I can see many parallels to that time and that man.  I remember him as the incredible shrinking president.  It seemed he almost visibly shrunk in size as his term continued.   I’ve never been more happy to see a president shown the door  – until now.

Carter was pathetic and ineffective.  Obama is dangerous.  The good news, if there is any, is he’s also fairly incompetent and the Democrats couldn’t organize a circus if they had a monopoly on popcorn, hot dogs and cotton candy.   But that aside, there are some Carteresque things going on that certainly remind me of Jimmy:

One of the most unpleasant things about Mr. Carter was the condescending disdain he could barely disguise for struggling Americans and their irritating malaise.

Increasingly, Jimmy Jr. is having difficulty concealing that very same disdain for us as the political winds around him turn hostile and all of his bright ideas lie fallow as nothing more than socialist hocus-pocus.

But even Mr. Carter never laid bare so baldly and plainly as Mr. Obama did earlier this week his deep-seated contempt for this whole annoying process we call “democracy.”

I have to agree that Obama’s condescension is at least as bad as Carter’s.  I’m not sure what happens to some people when they achieve the Oval Office, but they seem to want to be the Daddy-in-Chief instead of the Commander-in-Chief.  There’s something within that makes them feel they have to meddle in the lives of others to the extent, as Hurt and Billy noted, of lecturing on eating their peas.  

And Hurt is right about Obama’s apparent disdain for democracy.  Other than a tool to get him elected, Obama has displayed little desire to accomplish his “change” legislatively.  Instead we have executive fiat the chosen path with the EPA getting ready to enact rules that appear to be regulator overreach and properly the  business of Congress.   We have the administration single-handedly shutting down oil and gas production.   The NLRB is on a vendetta against businesses and busily trying to enact a pro-union agenda.   Democracy?  Who needs it.

And then there’s the sanctimonious hypocrisy:

The problem with reaching a deal to raise the debt ceiling, he explained in a long sermon, is that there is this huge wave of Republicans who won control of the House in the last election by promising not to raise any more taxes and to cut the absurd overspending that has driven this town for decades.

He bemoaned – in public – that these Republicans are more concerned about the “next election” rather than doing “what’s right for the country.” In other words, he is saying the honorable thing would be for these Republicans to ignore the expressed wishes of voters, break their campaign promises and raise taxes. Wow.

Exactly.  This while he tries to frame the whole thing politically as well.  I mean what was the walk out but political theater – something of which Obama is a master?

Jimmy Jr., as Hurt calls him, has to go.  We’ve suffered through most of one term of the “Daddy-in-Chief” (one political sin among many). Among many things I’m most tired on the Chief Nanny.  I’d prefer we make him eat his political peas come November 2012 and go back to community organizing.  And among near future generations, I’d prefer Barack Obama be the example of a totally failed presidency and retire Jimmy to the political peanut farm.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Food police want to regulate foods "for the children"

At RightOnLine, Ann Macelhinny (author of “Not Evil Just Wrong) said that while many believe that the right wants to control what happens “in the bedroom”, it is the left which wants to control everything that goes on in every other room in the house to include the kitchen and garage (what car you should drive and what fuel it should use).

An example of her point comes to us today via this proposed “voluntary” regulation by the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The Interagency working group recommends that the food industry, through voluntary self-regulatory efforts, make significant improvements in the nutritional quality of foods marketed to children and adolescents ages 2 to 17 years,” the proposal says.

“By the year 2016, all food products within the categories most heavily marketed directly to children should meet two basic nutrition principles.  Such foods should be formulated to … make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet and minimize the content of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health and weight.”

The foods most heavily marketed directly to children and adolescents fall into 10 categories: “breakfast cereals, snack foods, candy, dairy products, baked goods, carbonated beverages, fruit juice and non-carbonated beverages, prepared foods and meals, frozen and chilled desserts, and restaurant foods.”

Again, this proposed regulation calls for voluntary compliance, but apparently there’s also a proposed penalty for those foods which aren’t reformulated:

If the food is not reformulated, no more ads or promotions on TV, radio, in print, on websites, as well as other digital advertising such as e-mail and text messaging, packaging, and point-of-purchase displays and other in-store marketing tools; product placement in movies, videos, video games, contests, sweepstakes, character licensing and toy branding; sponsorship of events including sport teams and individual athletes; and, philanthropic activity tied to branding opportunities.

That includes softball teams that are sponsored by food companies and school reading programs sponsored by restaurants.

That’s why the FCC is involved (in case you were wondering).  Additionally, as most of us know:

“When regulators strongly suggest a course of action, it’s treated as a rule, not a suggestion,” said Scott Faber, vice president of federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.  “Industry tends to heed these suggestions from our regulators, and this administration has made it clear they are willing to regulate if we don’t implement their proposal.”

That’s just reality.  Of course, the underlying premise is that parents are inept and children rule the household and make all the buying decisions as well as eating what they want when they want too.  Thus government must step in.

Oh – and of course, any reformulation will cost money which will, of course, be passed on to the consumer, if the consumer buys the product at all (vs. going to a substitute or alternative).

Between the EPA, the Department of Interior, and now this bunch, the war on US businesses continues apace.

Choice – the lost concept of freedom.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Why Romney and Gingrich can never be President

Or perhaps I should caveat that by saying “should” never be President, given the current occupant who also “should” never have been President.

Romney gave his major health care speech yesterday in which he sounded like he was running as Obama’s VP.  It was totally unconvincing.  As Avik Roy says at NRO:

Mitt Romney just gave a more articulate defense of Obamacare than President Obama ever has. He continues to believe that the individual mandate is a good idea, despite the fact that the “free-rider” problem is a myth. His effort to make a distinction between Romneycare and Obamacare was not persuasive: If anything, he convincingly made the opposite case, that Romneycare and Obamacare are based on the same fundamental concept.

For him to have any credibility with the right and GOP voters, he had a simple mission: tell them why he signed RomneyCare into law in MA, why it was a mistake and why he was going to fight to repeal ObamaCare.

He did none of those things and thus became, at least in my eyes, an unviable candidate.  He obviously has absolutely no problem with the level of government interference in the health care market and certainly isn’t going to be a champion of backing government out of it if elected.  In fact, of all sources, the New York Times nails the problem (albeit coming at it from a different direction than me):

Tearing it down [RomneyCare] might help him politically, he said, but “it wouldn’t be honest.” He said he did what he “thought would be right for the people of my state.” A mandate to buy insurance, he said, makes sense to prevent people from becoming free riders, getting emergency care at enormous cost to everyone else.

Where he went off the rails, however, was in not acknowledging that that same logic applies to the nation. Mr. Romney tried desperately to pivot from praising his handiwork in Massachusetts to trashing the very same idea as adapted by Mr. Obama. His was an efficient and effective state policy; Mr. Obama’s was “a power grab by the federal government.”

He tried to justify this with a history lesson on federalism and state experimentation, but, in fact, he said nothing about what makes Massachusetts different from its neighbors or any other state. And why would he immediately repeal the Obama mandate if elected president? Because Mr. Obama wants a “government takeover of health care,” while all he wanted was to insure the uninsured.

That distinction makes no sense, and the disconnect undermines the foundation of Mr. Romney’s candidacy.

I absolutely agree.  In fact, the problem isn’t federalism and state experimentation, it is a principle – government, at any level, doesn’t have the right to compel a person to buy something if they choose not too.  One of the nasty little problems with big government types is that freedom allows too many choices and Romney is no different than those on the left who’d like to pare those choices down for their convenience and to extend the power and control of government (and their central planning efforts).

Newt Gingrich, who recently joined the run for the presidency, is no different than Romney as his record tells us and don’t let him try to fool you into thinking otherwise.  Huffington Post gives a partial list of the times Gingrich has touted health insurance mandates or attempted to argue in their favor from a moral perspective:

At an Alegent Health event in Omaha in 2008, Gingrich said it was "fundamentally immoral" for a person to go without coverage, show up at an emergency room and demand free care.

During the keynote address to the Greater Detroit Area Health Council’s annual Health Trends Conference in April 2006, Gingrich said he would require Americans earning above a certain income level to buy health insurance or post a bond, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In a June 2007 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, Gingrich wrote, "Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance, particularly when they can afford it, and expect others to pay for their care when they need it." An "individual mandate," he added, should be applied "when the larger health-care system has been fundamentally changed."

And in several of his many policy and politics-focused books, Gingrich offered much the same.

In 2008’s "Real Change," he wrote, "Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond). Meanwhile, we should provide tax credits or subsidize private insurance for the poor."

In 2005’s "Winning the Future," he expanded on the idea in more detail: "You have the right to be part of the lowest-cost insurance pool and you have a responsibility to buy insurance. … We need some significant changes to ensure that every American is insured, but we should make it clear that a 21st Century Intelligent System requires everyone to participate in the insurance system."

"People whose income is too low should receive Medicaid vouchers and tax credits to buy insurance," he continued. "Large risk pools (association health plans are one model) should be established so low-income people can buy insurance as inexpensively as large corporations. Furthermore, it should be possible to buy your health insurance on-line to lower the cost as much as possible."

Show me the difference between Gingrich and Obama (or Romney) on their desire to use the power of government to mandate insurance coverage.  The fact that Gingrich draws a line at a particular level of income doesn’t change the fact that in principal he agrees that government should have that power.

Just as serious a problem, at least for me, is Gingrich’s stance on global warming.  Gingrich appeared in a commercial for the “We initiative” with Nancy Pelosi.  The We Initiative is sponsored by Al Gore’s “Alliance for Climate Protection”. 

This alone is reason enough, in my book, to totally dismiss a Gingrich run.

 

 

Add in his support for an individual mandate for health insurance and his candidacy is DOA as far as I’m concerned. And Romney? On life support with a poor prognosis for the future.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Nanny and the “Kinder Eggs”

I hope everyone one had a bright and sunny Easter (or Passover)weekend and were able to enjoy it with their family and friends.  It was nice to take a day off from just about everything.

Mark Steyn’s kids apparently didn’t get the opportunity to enjoy it in the way they wished.  Apparently as the family tried to reenter the US from Canada, our sharp eyed border agents protected them from something that they didn’t even realize was a threat.  Yes, friends, Nanny took away the kid’s “Kinder Eggs” to protect them from a potential choking hazard:

Late last night, crossing the Quebec/Vermont border, my children had two boxes of “Kinder Eggs” (“Est. Dom. Value $7.50″) confiscated by Customs & Border Protection.

Don’t worry, it’s for their own safety. I had no idea that the United States is the only nation on the planet (well, okay, excepting North Korea and Saudi Arabia and one or two others) to ban Kinder Eggs. According to the CBP:

Kinder Chocolate Eggs are hollow milk chocolate eggs about the size of a large hen’s egg usually packaged in a colorful foil wrapper. They are a popular treat and collector’s item during holiday periods in various countries around the world, including those in Europe, South America and even Canada. A toy within the egg is contained in an oval-shaped plastic capsule. The toy requires assembly and each egg contains a different toy. Many of the toys that have been tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the past were determined to present a choking hazard for young children.

And yet oddly enough generations of European and Latin American children remain unchoked. Gotta love that “even Canada”, by the way: Is that an implied threat that Kinder Egg consumption is incompatible with participation in NORAD or membership of NAFTA?

Obviously Nanny doesn’t feel that Steyn is enough of a parent to supervise his children’s consumption of this confection and the CPC, enforced by the CBP have decided no parent in the US is qualified or should be allowed to have this product. Steyn is obviously an unfit parent just for allowing the little tykes to buy the eggs, no? 

And just to make you feel safer, they keep stats of how many eggs they’ve confiscated, because, you know, it’s all "for the children".   Always nice to be able to tout how vigilant you’ve been with confiscating kid’s confections even while the border remains a super-highway for illegal immigrants:

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an import alert for Kinder Eggs, because they are a confectionery product with a non-nutritive object imbedded in it. As in years past, CBP, the Food and Drug Administration and CPSC work in close collaboration to ensure the safety of imported goods by examining, sampling and testing products that may present such import safety hazards. Last year, CBP officers discovered more than 25,000 of these banned chocolate eggs. More than 2,000 separate seizures were made of this product.

I assume some smart bureaucrat will at some point translate that into a claim the lives of 25,000 children have been saved, or some such nonsense.  They could use that to at least justify in their own minds the unwarranted intrusion into the role of the parent, or something, right?  Not that they’ve felt a need to justify that in the past (I wonder what Nanny thinks of Cracker Jacks?).

Speaking of intrusion, you had better secure your WiFi network if you haven’t already – otherwise ICE’s SWAT team may be planning a visit, especially if you have a pervert for a neighbor. 

But be thankful today – Nanny is on the case and Kinder Eggs shall not touch your child’s lips.

Don’t you feel so much safer and secure?

~McQ

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