Tag Archives: you meddling kids

Doubling down on petty tyranny

update, 6/3 – they start early, don’t they? (thx to Stoaty via Twitter)

(Plenty of play on the blogosphere and Twitter on this subject: the Swillers, Morgan Freeberg, and IMAO for starters.  Good.  I hope Bloomberg is driven from the field in shame.  It’s high time we let these bossy busybodies know who’s boss in the citizen-politician relationship.)

The more I hear about this seemingly-inconsequential Beverage Mandate, the more it irritates me.  I’ve seen a clip of a flack on TV (I think it was an “obesity expert” or some such from a university) say that obesity began to spike in the early 80’s with the introduction of the two-liter soda bottle.

Horseradish.  I can remember Hoffman’s Beverages on Long Island offering racks of twelve single-quart (glass) bottles.  After we emptied it, we brought the rack back and got twelve new ones, with the old bottles sent to the company for cleaning and refilling… or we could just take the nickel deposits and be done.  Soda has always been around.  Sugary drinks have always been around.  Gigantic calorie-stuffed, creme-filled snack food has always been around.

What we have now that we didn’t then is the Atari 2600 and its successors.  We have an Internet that is so easily reachable that even when kids are turned out of doors, they spend their time huddled over miniature screens instead of running and laughing.  Are we going to ban video game consoles and smartphones next?

We also have such an over-layered, smothering approach to exercise that it’s no wonder that ever-more people are inflating at a rapid rate.  Unstructured play?  What’s that?  Sure, it keeps you healthy, you have fun, you learn to mediate your own disputes, you have opportunity to develop good sportsmanship, coordination, skill, and friendships – but what if you get hurt??!?!eleventy!!?

To top all that, we lack essential counter-influences to these tugs on our daily habits.  We fetishize self-esteem to such an extent that any experience that affronts or worries is considered a borderline assault.  Well, playing a game of pickup basketball offers ample chance to be affronted or worried.  Am I good enough?  Will I be teased for running slow or looking awkward?  Will nobody want me on their team because I’m terrible?

We also lack parental authority.  Not coincidentally, this is directly tied to the ever-intrusive State: they have whittled and undermined the traditional societal units of influence in order to gin up a desire for those necessary functions to be filled by elected officials.  “Government must step in” is the mantra of the newly-infantilized adult, raised for 30-50 solid years in a world in which parents’ and church’s accustomed say in kids’ lives were systematically ridiculed, marginalized, and ultimately ignored.  Pick a topic.  Education?  Teachers know so much more!  A kid ought to feel good about the educational process and be an equal partner in it.  Morality?  Passé!  It’s all situational ethics now, with no timeless absolutes by which to judge the momentary situation.  Relationships?  We’ll teach sex ed.  All that situational ethics and self-esteem we taught earlier will ensure that kids will have no basis for decision other than their in-the-moment, hormone-addled emotions, and no way to be told that the decision may have lasting consequences without being horribly offended.  If it doesn’t work, it’s not their fault – society has failed them.  But government will never fail them!  They pinky-swear!

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For the children?

I was thinking about something that I heard on the radio (heheheh) while driving to work yesterday – a news item about lawmakers from New Jersey wanting to change the regulations regarding tanning beds.  They want to raise the minimum age from 14 to 18.

It didn’t seem like much of anything to write a post about, until I saw this online today, via Ace:

Federal agencies should step in if industries that promote high-calorie foods to children do not implement common nutrition standards within two years, the influential Institute of Medicine (IOM) said Tuesday.

Now, “exercise more and eat healthier” hardly requires 478 pages to say; no doubt the rest of the IOM’s report has to do with exactly what these agencies ought to be doing to whomever gives a kid a slice of cake.  And for once, I’m not going to track down that report and go over the highlights, like I did with the Act in Multiple Acts from last week.  Frankly, there’s no need.  If you’ve stuffed 478 pages full of “guidelines” and “interventions”, then doing even 5% of it will be a huge intrusion on the everyday lives of ordinary citizens.

But even that isn’t actually the point here.  Ace makes that point much better than I can, anyway, and I see the Masters are on board with a fine take as well.  The long and short of it is that the proposal here and in re: tanning beds in Jersey are both categorically dumb, in the same category.  To wit, they aren’t going to do a blessed thing to fix the problem that was allegedly the whole reason for getting together and blathering on for 478 pages.

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We need an anti-Congress

Now, technically, we already have an anti-Congress.  It’s called the Constitution of the United States, and it sets very specific boundaries on what the Congress is permitted to do: a list of 18 specific responsibilites given in Article I, Section 8.

Thanks to M*A*S*H, “Section 8” is more familiar to us as the provision by which soldiers are found as mentally unfit for service.  It might help if we all think of Congress as falling equally under that category, because they blithely ignore this part of the Constitution in matters great and small, and it’s been getting progressively worse.  From the spectacular overreach to the picayune, from the Health Insurance law they passed (largely unread and deliberately misrepresented) to reaching into our living rooms to confiscate our light bulbs, there’s pretty much nothing left they think they can’t order us to do.

Now, isn’t the Constitution a “living document” and all of that?  Perhaps.  It does offer a provision for its own revision, through Amendments.  It’s a deliberate process.  This is most unwelcome to people who are enamored of their own authority and power, even if we assume that they’re mature enough to actually go through with a long and slow process to do what is required or what they wish.  But again, there are too many spoiled brats in government.  They want it NOW NOW NOW.  They are precocious enough to talk about all the times that quick action is required, and that the Constitution is elastic enough to handle emergencies admitting of no delay; they aren’t attentive enough to see that the Constitution again makes room for those acts in a lawful fashion, and sets strict limits on them.

Stretch any elastic too far and it will permanently deform – if it doesn’t snap outright.

The practical limit on that list of 18 responsibilities is made explicit in Amendments IX and X:

IX – The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

X – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

In current English, this means that the Constitution limits THEM, not US.  We don’t need written permission by law to do anything; the Federal Government is forbidden to act outside its mandate.  That’s the point beyond which our Government is not supposed to stretch.  Yet those boneless would-be potentates are making like Plastic Man with our rights.*

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