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.
The anthem of our times?
It could also be entitled “common sense 101” – but of course that’s been which has been denied for decades in DC. The rules of reality don’t apply there – until now.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
I get so tired of these stories, but they have to be pointed out because they indicate a disturbing trend. In this case, it’s just another in a long line of examples of bureaucrats unilaterally deciding to remove choice for everyone based on their arbitrary assessment of what is “good for you”.
The example this time is about some of the Chicago Public Schools, and in particular the Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, have decided not to allow packed lunches from home. This line in the story just drove me up the wall:
Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.
It is like parents don’t even exist in her world. It is like they should have no say in what their children eat if it doesn’t jibe with Ms. Carmona’s idea of what that should be. Mona Charen calls it “coercive humanitarianism”. I think that’s way too kind. I call it bureaucratic authoritarianism and typical of petty bureaucrats who have the power to impose their will on others with little or no accountability requirements.
Perhaps the biggest point to made about this is parents are again marginalized with these sorts of decisions. They’re forced to do what the bureaucrat decides they should do. And it costs those parents who do take their child’s nutrition seriously and who do pack nutritious lunches the option (the freedom) to do so.
Of course, one supposes that part of the reason for imposing this unilateral ban on lunches from home is so the kids will “eat well”, yes?
At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry or both. During a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten. Though CPS has improved the nutritional quality of its meals this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad.
But as with most things, if you really drill down and “follow the money”, some of the bureaucratic insistence becomes a little clearer:
Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.
And they really don’t care if the food goes in the child’s stomach or the trashcan.
Which brings us to this line in the story:
Such discussions over school lunches and healthy eating echo a larger national debate about the role government should play in individual food choices.
Frankly, I see no reason for debate – none of the government’s business. I don’t need a super-nanny deciding what I can or can’t eat and I darn sure don’t want the government deciding what my children or grandchildren eat.
But … and you knew there was one … when government “pays” for health care, government will feel entitled and empowered to decide such things for individuals because bad decisions may affect your health and that would cost the government more than if you were forced to eat like it decides you should.
Yes there are national implications to this sort of bureaucratic nonsense, and somewhere out there in the bureaucratic/political incubator is a man or woman who will self-justify attempting to impose such a fundamental infringement on your freedom to choose for your own good. And unfortunately many others will blithely go along.
And why when government tells you how you must spend your money a certain, the unintended consequences are usually terrible:
Look, this isn’t rocket science, and the business owner in this video explains very well what happens when government dictates how you will spend any profits you make. Take a moment and listen to what he has to say near the end of the vid especially. He talks hard numbers and why, if forced to do what the government dictates, it will cost future jobs.
One of the things I’ve always said throughout this health care debate is health insurance should be something someone buys outside of employment. If Congress would deregulate the industry to the point that buyers were able to shop across state lines for a competitive insurance policy to cover their family and be a part of a huge nation wide pool to boot, prices for insurance would come down.
What is being mandated here puts no pressure on insurance companies to be competitive but it does require companies who are presently unable to provide it to do so. That will have an impact in employment. Owners like the one featured here will figure the cost per employee and most likely reduce the employee pool at a point where he thinks he can manage the mandate and still make a profit.
Of course he most likely won’t make the profit he was and so more restaurants won’t be built and more people won’t be hired.
The solution for lower cost health insurance does not lie in more government control or mandates. It is to be found in a real market that allows buyers the leverage they need to force health care insurance providers to field a competitive product. Until that happens, none of the solutions tendered through ObamaCare will increase coverage and decrease cost. It is an absolute impossibility the way that law is structured.
Jacob Sullum at Reason brings us the following. It just never ceases to amaze me (although given the proliferation of such legislation I suppose it should) what some people think the purpose of a legislature is:
The Food and Drug Administration can ban caffeinated alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko, but it cannot stop bartenders from mixing Red Bull with vodka, coffee with Irish whiskey, or cola with rum. Fortunately, Iowa state Sen. Brian Schoenjahn (D-Arlington) has proposed a bill that would close this dangerous gap by making it a misdemeanor for any business with a liquor license to "manufacture for sale, sell, offer or keep for sale, import, distribute, transport, or possess any caffeinated alcoholic beverage." The bill defines "caffeinated alcoholic beverage" as "any beverage containing more than one-half of one percent of alcohol by volume, including alcoholic liquor, wine, and beer, to which caffeine is added." Hence it apparently applies not only to drinks with a noticeable caffeine kick but also to coffee-flavored liqueurs with detectable amounts of the stimulant, such as Kahlua or Tia Maria, and any cocktails made with them, such as a Black Russian or a Mudslide. In addition to jail time and fines, violators would face revocation (not just suspension) of their liquor licenses, and therefore loss of their livelihoods—a pretty harsh penalty for following the instructions in a Mr. Boston book.
Another in a long line of those who would tell you what to eat, who you can love, what is “best” for you and remove all choices they find incompatible with their vision of how your life should be lived. And they’re willing to put you in jail if you don’t agree.
Remember, freedom equals choice.