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Five Senators for Death

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

“Beware: Second-hand stupidity kills.”

That’s just one of the killer lines from Greg Gutfeld’s rant against the five Democratic senators who introduced a bill to ban marketing e-cigarettes to teenagers. (It’s from The Five’s e-cig segment I linked to on Saturday.) Gutfeld called the e-cig “the greatest medical device since The Clapper,” arguing that it signifies the “first real progress for ending smoking . . . for good.”

To Barbara Boxer’s claim that there is no way of knowing whether e-cigs are harmful, Gutfeld responded: “Science, you bozo.”

Boxer and her comrades are, by my lights, far worse than bozos.

They fixate — like the puritanical Nanny State thugs they are — on the “Ooh, bad people get addicted to bad substances” aspect of the issue, rather than on the tremendous leap forward the new technology provides existing smokers. They fear, they say, kids starting with e-cigs and then taking up smoking tobacco. An unlikely scenario. Nicotine via water vapor is not a likely “gateway” to nicotine-with-deadly-tars via smoke.

E-cigs aren’t for everyone. The guy who puts these Common Sense episodes up online for me has tried it, and failed. Not a smoker, he wanted to see if he could swap some caffeine over-use with some controlled nicotine use. But he could not breathe the hot steam in.

The gateway was closed.

For smokers, however, the device serves as a wonderful substitution, swapping deadly tar-producing smoke sticks with a much cleaner nicotine rush. It will save lives.

Regulating it, taxing it — discouraging its use — would, as Gutfeld says, “make Death smile.”

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Big Soda Ban Still Fizzles

Monday, August 5th, 2013

One of the Nanny State’s ninniest nannies is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, eager to save New Yorkers from big cups of sugary drinks. Big Soda supposedly makes you tubby. Bloomberg feels that it is the government’s job to prevent such tubbiness. (No word yet on bans of big chocolate, big hamburger, big pizza . . .)

In July, a court upheld a prior ruling that the NYC Board of Health had exceeded its bounds by trying to ban certain Big Soda sales. According to the Times, the justices objected to “exceptions and carve-outs in the rule [that] demonstrated that the board was concerned with matters beyond its core mission to improve public health. . . .”

The now-banned ban was indeed full of carve-outs and contradictions — unavoidable this side of a totalitarian state. To achieve its goals consistently, the government would have to monitor our every sip. How much more must it have to do to really stop us from gaining “too much” weight, Bloomberg’s rationale for the assault on Big Soda sales?

It is not government’s job to compel good living by violating the very political rights that we need in order to live well. Its job is to safeguard those rights; i.e., to safeguard the freedom to make choices about matters big and small according to our own judgment. A state that bans every conceivable “wrong” choice also prohibits our means of making the choices that are — for each of us, given our individual purposes and priorities — the right choices.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Forced Visits

Friday, July 19th, 2013

When I’m ancient and stuck in a nursing home, I’d like my children to visit me.

But would I want them to visit only because they’re being forced to? So they resent every minute subtracted from something they’d rather be doing? No.

While I don’t want that kind of world, Barry Davis seems to. Davis, a New York Times reader, says that he and his friends don’t hear from their kids as much as they’d like.

He praises a new Chinese law ordering children to visit aging parents. Nothing he has seen “in recent times so manifests our common humanity” as this facile compulsion. “We need Congress to pass an American version of the ‘Protection of Rights and Interests of Elderly People’. . . .”

“We,” kemosabe?

I’m in favor of children, however old themselves, visiting their aging parents. I’m also in favor of a free society in which everyone respects the rights and sovereignty of others — including those of children who have left the nest and now live as independent adults. In such a society, relationships are voluntary, whether we’re exchanging money and goods or time and attention. Persons respect the fact that we each have our own lives and priorities. We deal with each other because we want to; we’re not outlaws if we don’t.

That’s a basis for good will. Things are different if every time we interact with another person, it’s at the point of gun, with every participant’s actual judgments and desires treated as irrelevant.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

A Big Gulp for Bloomberg

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s much-talked-about prohibition of large-size sugary drinks, like Coke and Pepsi, set to have gone into effect today, has been over-ruled. At least temporarily. New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling put the kibosh on the law, on Monday, enjoining and restraining the city “from implementing or enforcing the new regulations.”

Mayor Bloomberg promises to appeal the ruling. Apparently, he sees this as such an important policy move that spending taxpayers’ money on legal fees is another great thing he can do for the people he’s supposed to serve.

But, until his next assault, let’s appreciate the judge’s ruling:

In halting the drink rules, Judge Tingling noted that the incoming sugary drink regulations were “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences” that would be difficult to enforce with consistency “even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole.”

“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule,” the judge wrote.

The judge also censured Bloomberg for overstepping his bounds by cooking up the regs not via the City Council — the city’s legislative body — but from the Board of Health, which just happens to have been appointed by . . . Michael Bloomberg.

The prohibition of larger-sized soft drinks never made much sense. Add onto its limited scope (applying to some vendors, not others) and its core notion (prohibiting sale by dosage, when consumers could with only marginal inconvenience get around the rules) Bloomberg’s legislative hanky panky, and it wasn’t just any Nanny State horror.

It was an autocratic move.

Nicely stopped. For now.

This is COmmon Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Throw the Bums’ Meat Out?

Friday, March 1st, 2013

“Beggars can’t be choosers.”

“Never look a gift horse in the mouth.”

These two maxims of generations past sought to curb ingratitude, a sense of entitlement, or even cultivated taste amongst those dependent on the kindness of others — thus preventing the poor from making the best the enemy of the adequate.

But today beggars and gift-horse recipients have the government to look out for them.

Todd Starnes, writing for Fox News, relates the story of the Louisiana Health and Hospitals Department nixing a generous gift of sixteen hundred pounds of venison to a rescue mission:

“Deer meat is not permitted to be served in a shelter, restaurant or any other public eating establishment in Louisiana,” said a Health Dept. official in an email to Fox News. “While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at the Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public.”

Another valiant attempt to “help” those worst off in society.

Sarcasm aside, the Louisiana venison was no random benefaction. The hunters had been officially encouraged to hunt, and to donate extra meat, which then went to a processing plant.

But the government, which is here to help us (or so it is said), stepped in. The bureaucrats could have inspected the meat, but, instead, even went out of their way to throw the meat into garbage bins and douse it with Clorox.

Just so no animals would get sick, either.

A predictable result of the way Americans have chosen to “protect”* the food supply. As in so many other areas, it is always the poor (in this case, the homeless) who are hurt the most.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


* The full story has yet to really come out. The beneficent hunters have met with a number of government attorneys and professional backpedallers, and have been promised to be informed of the exact laws/regulations that the venerable venison donors allegedly broke. And this loose-knit diet of dignitaries plans to cook up legislation to “make sure this never happens again.”

A Big Gulp of Tyranny

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Little things mean a lot. One, they add up. Two, they often express something big, like love between a married couple — or a bully’s determination to control your every move.

In the case of New York City’s impending ban on Big Soda, the something big is Big Brother’s claim of a right to regulate or outlaw everything that might somehow, someday harm somebody. Never mind how indirect or trivial the alleged harm may be. And never mind that such regulation inflicts far more grievous harm to the individual’s own ability to judge what is good for himself, and to act on that judgment in co-operation with others.

Mayor Bloomberg’s new nanny law prohibits restaurants, bars, and other food-serving establishments from selling sodas in containers of more than 16 ounces. That includes carafes served to tables of four, eight or ten. It includes two-liter bottles of soda that New Yorkers might want to order with their pizza. The law is stupid and tyrannical, and a vicious precedent.

Bold, fizzy action is called for. New Yorkers should defy the prohibition. Set up a test case, with the city imposing a fine on one or more businesses for continuing to sell large doses of carbonation. This would allow, then, the Institute for Justice, the ACLU or some other freedom-minded organization help fight the fine and the law in court.

And let there be protests in front of City Hall, peaceful and principled, with Big Soda served to all.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Rationing Pain Relief

Friday, January 25th, 2013

If you doubt that ever-expanding government control over medicine hurts people, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is eager to disabuse you. How else to explain his new requirement that city-controlled emergency rooms restrict supplies of painkillers in the name of the war on drugs?

The idea is that if emergency rooms shrink supplies below what medical practitioners think reasonable, then it’s harder for addicts to get their fix.

Have personnel known that certain patients were addicted to painkillers and treated them with painkillers anyway? Or are painkiller addicts stealing the supplies? Whatever the rationalizations, it’s evident that substandard supplies will make it harder to help non-addicts in serious pain.

What about days when demand is especially high? Or when delivery of new supplies is disrupted?

Like any central planner confident in his own omniscience, Bloomberg is sure that limiting the supply of painkillers below the level judged adequate by hospitals could never make it harder to help persons in pain. He also says, if so, so what? “[So] you didn’t get enough painkillers and you did have to suffer a little bit. . . . There’s nothing that you can possibly do where somebody isn’t going to suffer. . . .”

His rationale, here, would “justify” making it harder to obtain anything whatever that enhances our lives if that thing might also be used destructively. A counsel to impair life in the name of saving it.

Bloomberg adds callousness to his hubris, topping it off with absurdity.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.