Archive for the ‘Nanny State’ Category

Smiling All the Way to the DMV

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

The Virginia DMV has banned smiles while taking photos for your driver’s license.

Honestly, so what?

As someone who has wasted hours of my life dealing with the bureaucrats at the Virginia DMV I don’t know how anyone could smile after such an experience. Naturally, the facial recognition technology is scary, but I really don’t see how someone could smile after such an experience  where you’re treated like cattle just for the “privilege” of being able to transport yourself.

How They Steal Your Rights

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Over at StogieGuys.com, I wrote the following column about how nanny-staters chip away at our rights.

It’s the perfect example getting the camels nose under the tent. In other words, they set the precedent for taking away our rights, then, before you know it, they expand a seeming narrow violation of our freedom and use it to take away an entire area of our liberties.

Here’s the entire article:

Make no mistake, the well-funded, well-connected professional activists who oppose tobacco are far from sensible people looking to place so-called “reasonable restrictions” on tobacco. The truth is, almost all are deceitful opportunists who won’t stop until tobacco is taxed or regulated out of existence (or at least pushed completely into an underground black market).

These anti-tobacco zealots are too smart to ever admit their ultimate goal in public, even though occasionally they let their secret slip. Instead, they twist science to deceptively present themselves as reflective, thoughtful advocates who just happen to continuously find “problems” in need of “solutions,” which always amount to more tobacco taxes, more regulations, and more expansive smoking bans.

Recently, these incremental steps towards tobacco prohibition have often been presented as closing loopholes, leveling the playing field, or combating problems seemingly unrelated to smoking. It seems the anti-tobacco crowd has taken to heart the lesson of the boiling frog, which goes something like this: If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out. But if you place the frog into a pot of lukewarm water and slowly turn up the heat, it will boil to death.

I suspect they realize that if they are forthright about their ultimate goal of prohibition, they know they would lose credibility and could even unleash a backlash, as those whose freedom of choice they seek to limit would rally to defend their right to enjoy tobacco. However, if the steps towards total prohibition are small enough, like the frog, we won’t act until it is too late.

Three examples show how the tobacco banners present more regulation, taxation, and smoking bans as merely fixes to “loopholes” or “problems” in existing laws:

Congress Takes on Mail-Order Tobacco Sales

This week, Congress is debating a ban on mail-order cigarette sales. It seems that many states are losing revenue as consumers seek to avoid punitive cigarette taxes. Instead of buying a pack of cigarettes for $10 in New York City, they are ordering them through the mail for less than half the price.

Never mind that it’s the excessively high taxes that are forcing people to look for less expensive ways to get tobacco. The anti-smokers say the solution isn’t to re-examine the taxes that created this pseudo-black market, but to create more restrictions and make the postal service, and companies like Fed-Ex, police the contents of every package shipped over state lines. At least so far, the regulation only affects cigarettes, but that’s just another “loophole” waiting to be closed.

Anti-Smokers Say Nebraska Smoking Ban ‘Unfair’

Meanwhile, in Nebraska, after a battle to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars, a deal was eventually struck that would ban smoking everywhere except cigar bars where cigars and pipes would be allowed, but not cigarettes. But the anti-tobacco zealots at the American Cancer Society thought even that most limited exemption was a problem, and they even found novel way to suggest that it was unconstitutional.

According to their tortured reasoning, the ban was an unfair benefit to cigar bars. It seems after banning smoking in all these restaurants and bars, they suddenly claimed to be concerned with the competitive disadvantage that the ban’s victims were put in. Naturally, the “solution” they were seeking—which fortunately wasrejected by the Nebraska Attorney General—was to extend the ban to include cigar bars.

San Francisco Pushes Butt Tax

As reported by the New York Times yesterday, San Francisco’s mayor is pushing a tax increase on cigarettes. (No word yet on any effect on cigars.) His reasoning? Smokers, who have been forced out of bars by city and state smoking bans, were creating litter by leaving their cigarettes in the street.

Citing the cost of cleaning up the cigarette butts, Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to increase the cigarette tax. Obviously, the idea of allowing smoking back into bars where staff can clean up butts and provide smokers with ashtrays isn’t being considered. Instead, the “solution” is to raise taxes further.

In all three situations, the “problems” were created when freedoms were limited by policies advocated by the anti-tobacco crowd. Yet somehow the solutions are always more anti-free choice policies.

It has become quite clear that we smokers are becoming the frog, standing idly by as our freedom to smoke is stolen from us one degree at a time. My fear is if we don’t start fighting back soon, it will be too late and our freedoms will have evaporated completely.

Big Tobacco, Bigger Government

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Big Tobacco and Big Oil… are all far smaller than Big Government. But the media doesn’t automatically add “Big” before the word Government.

(via Cafe Hayek)

Cigar Voters for Bob Barr

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

An endorsement, of sorts, from me over at stogieguys.com:

As detailed in Monday’s article on Obama and McCain, neither candidate offers a particularly impressive agenda [for cigar smokers]. When push comes to shove, we suppose McCain is marginally better on cigar issues as a whole, but not in a particularly meaningful way.

Not to mention that his record suggests he is likely to flip-flop on tobacco issues (after all, he spent a decade trying to jack up taxes on cigarettes before only recently opposing such a hike). So while the pragmatist in us says a begrudging vote for McCain, the idealist says there must be a better choice. And there is.

Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr agrees with us on every important issue: taxesregulation,smoking banstrade, and Cuban sanctions. His position can be summed up with this quote: “Washington should leave smokers and other tobacco users alone.” Here, here!

And he’s a cigar smoker too, even talking about smoking cigars with Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report. All that makes it a real shame that he hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected. Still, maybe a vote for Barr would help send a message that we smokers are tired of being mistreated by Washington.

A Small Victory Against the Nanny State

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Over at StogieGuys.com we note that an extreme expansion of Michigan’s smoking ban has been defeated… at least for now.  For more on tobacco prohibition in Michigan read this Detroit Free Press op-ed by Jacob Grier. Also see the nasty hate mail the smoking nannies sent Jacob in response to his defense of personal liberty.

Lots more Stogie Guys coverage of smoking bans here.

Food Cops

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Take this food nannies:

Disturbing New Survey Results

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

According to the results of a Rasmussen survey released today, 47% of our fellow countrymen (47%!) “believe the government should require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary….” This is up from the 41% results of July 2007.

Further, 31% favor requiring internet sites to also balance their commentary.  (Imagine having to sift through a series of blog posts on campaignforliberty.com arguing strongly in favor of world intervention and the Federal Reserve system.)  The good news is that this is down from 34% in the July survey referenced earlier.

Think about this for a second.  Nearly half of the Americans surveyed believe that government should be mandating the content of commentary on their news outlets.  The so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” which espouses the belief that news outlets should be forced to present both (liberal and conservative) perspectives of an issue, is usually supported by those on the left, but I can imagine some conservatives supporting the question posed by the phone survey because of what is seen as left-wing media bias.

But let’s step back for a second.  Shouldn’t news be objective?  Yes, the presentation of the news of the day should be objective.  However, there’s a big difference between news and commentary, and there’s a major difference between outlets presenting balanced programming, and outlets being forced by the government to present balanced programming.  News outlets should be free to offer whatever commentary they wish, and I should be free to decide whether or not to give them my support.  (The question of the news itself being objective should be a matter of principle, not force.)  By the way, the “Fairness Doctrine” has been tried before, and was done away with during the Reagan administration.

Let’s face it.  The FCC would be empowered like never before to control even more of what you’re allowed to see and hear, and the idea of constitutional limitations would be slid further into the shredder.  Besides being an attack on free speech, the “Fairness Doctrine” is an all-out assault on what remains of the free market.   If I don’t like what I’m seeing or hearing on tv (an ever-increasing sentiment these days), I have the right to turn to something I approve of and give that program higher ratings.  The same concept can be applied to what I read.  (Just ask newspaper owners about what the internet has done to their business.)

And why just conservative and liberal viewpoints? In the interest of “Fairness,” shouldn’t all viewpoints be allowed to compete in the arena?  (Can you see what a mess this would turn into?)

Dr. Paul has co-sponsored HR 2905, a bill from Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana to prevent the enforcement of a “Fairness Doctrine,” and I urge you to contact your representatives and tell them to co-sponsor this bill if they have not already done so.  (You can find a list of co-sponsors here.)   You can also urge your representative to sign the discharge petition, which would pull the bill out of committee and bring it to the House floor for a vote.  The petition only needs sixteen more signatures.  (Discharge petitions require 218 signatures - a majority of the 435 House members.)

Spread the word on HR 2905 and the discharge petition, and let’s keep this threat to the free market out of our Republic.

Towards a Smoke Free America

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Congress recently took another step towards total prohibition of tobacco by ordering FDA regulation of tobacco (against the wishes of the current FDA head).  Both McCain and Obama support the measure. In fact it has been one of McCain’s pet issues for over a decade.

Full details, along with my take on the effect on cigars (which always seem to get lumped in with cigarettes), here.