Archive for the Nanny State Category

Lemonade Day – a lesson in government regulation

Posted in Culture, Government Folly, Heros, Nanny State, Take back America, UGH! on May 2, 2011 by DaMook

lemonade standOnce upon a time a kid could set up a lemonade stand virtually anywhere and make a few bucks. Sadly those days are over as you are now subject to government harassment and even prosecution should you try it now. In many areas you need a business license and Health Department inspection to set up a simple lemonade stand. But wait, there’s hope. You can do this one day a year on Lemonade Day. That’s right, one day a year many cities will allow this so that kids can “learn and appreciate” entrepreneurship. Actually, it’s a lesson in government regulation (story here from the LA Times).

My 8-year-old recently got the lemonade stand itch. So we started laying plans to enrich her college fund by enticing passers-by with white chocolate-pistachio cookies and juice from organic lemons. Fortunately, our property backs onto one of the busiest paved urban trails in America, bustling on weekends with cyclists, rollerbladers and pedestrians. Visions of dollars danced in our heads.

Googling for the perfect lemonade recipe, we soon found a site promoting a May 1 “national” event called Lemonade Day. This event, organizers say, is an “initiative designed to teach kids how to start, own and operate their own business — a lemonade stand.” What better day to begin building our lemonade empire?

After shopping for her raw materials, I gave my kid a bedtime primer about starting a business. How much profit do you make after expenses? How should you promote your business? Give the customer a great product. She soaked it up and went to sleep all inspiration and smiles. Then I got to thinking about something I hadn’t discussed with her: government regulations.

The author relates a three day odyssey of contacting various government agencies about setting up a simple lemonade stand. The bottom line was that under normal circumstances, a simple child’s lemonade stand was out of the question. They would allow it, however, for Lemonade Day.

What the Lemonade Day organizers should teach the children, said the health official, is about the importance of learning and obeying the government regulations that prohibit lemonade stands.

If we had made it past the health and parks departments, my kid would have been stymied by zoning laws that prohibit lemonade stands in residential neighborhoods. Overcoming that barrier, we would have hung our heads at the daunting costs of business and vending licenses, not to mention taxes.

Lemonade Day is promoted as a way to “inspire a budding entrepreneur!” But it is actually a dispiriting lesson about how hard it now is to become an entrepreneur, whether you’re an adult or a child. It is about how even the most harmless enterprise, the humble lemonade stand, has been sacrificed on the altar of government regulation.

“Obeying the government” – that’s the real lesson here. The author handles it well.

Learning to be an entrepreneur “starts with a lemonade stand,” say the organizers of Lemonade Day. But they don’t want to talk about the regulations that make it impossible for my kid to become a lemonade stand entrepreneur. They tell me it is “silly” and “beside the point” to focus on the regulations. I am told that Lemonade Day is about kids learning to “give back to their communities,” “do better in school” and “open bank accounts.” It is not about something so self-serving as making a profit by selling a good product. That is the old American way, but the new way is living with rules that banish the lemonade stand to one government-approved day a year.

What are my kid and I going to do on Lemonade Day? We are going to set up a stand in one of the permitted locations — in a park or at one of the approved sponsors — with hundreds of other kids doing the same thing. But our “secret ingredient” is that we will hand out leaflets explaining why operating a lemonade stand makes my kid and yours not just a hopeful entrepreneur, but an actual lawbreaker.

Next year they should rename it Regulation Day.

It makes you wonder if America can survive this assholery…

School bans lunches brought from home

Posted in Culture, Government Folly, Nanny State on April 12, 2011 by DaMook

The Nanny State rolls on as a government school in the Chicago area has banned most lunches brought from home. If you thought that, as a parent, you could could provide a decent and inexpensive lunch for your kid, the nanny principal at this school has two words for you – UP YOURS (story here).

At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”

Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring “bottles of soda and flaming hot chips” on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common.

A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said she could not say how many schools prohibit packed lunches and that decision is left to the judgment of the principals.

“While there is no formal policy, principals use common sense judgment based on their individual school environments,” Monique Bond wrote in an email. “In this case, this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom.”

Common sense judgement? The problem with this statement is that the words “common” and “sense,” when used together form an oxymoron in the government lexicon. There’s nothing common about common sense in government. Perhaps the next statement more appropriately describes the situation.

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.

It also means more money for the school but the nanny insists this about “nutrition.” Riiiiiiiight…

And of course, if the government lunch is so good for them, it should, you know, taste good too. Right?

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.

“Some of the kids don’t like the food they give at our school for lunch or breakfast,” said Little Village parent Erica Martinez. “So it would be a good idea if they could bring their lunch so they could at least eat something.”

I guess not. Without even a hint of salt or other spices, it probably tastes as good as it looks:

school lunch

What is THAT?

I’m not sure what that is but it kinda looks like dog food. But it’s government-issue so eat it or go hungry you ungrateful brats.

While some parents are upset, the money quote comes from this tool:

But parent Miguel Medina said he thinks the “no home lunch policy” is a good one. “The school food is very healthy,” he said, “and when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food.”

If your kids attended this school what would you do? This is not about nutrition, it’s about control…

NYC nanny state fatso politician wants to ban Happy Meal toys

Posted in BIG Government, Culture, FAIL, Government Folly, Humor, Nanny State on April 7, 2011 by DaMook

The idiotic nanny state notion that banning toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals will somehow solve childhood obesity is not new (more here). I suppose the idea is that kids actually want Happy Meals because of the “toys” inside, rather than the burger & fries – after all, the toys probably taste better. And, of course, parents can’t actually say “no” to their kids so the government needs to step in. What makes this story (from NBC NY) so funny is the nanny who is proposing legislation to ban the Happy Meal toys (and the headline to the story). Meet NYC Councilman Leroy Comrie:

leroy_comrie
Happy Meal victim

A city lawmaker thinks free toys and other giveaways cause children to clamor for fast food, and he planned to introduce a bill Wednesday that will ban them from meals that fail to meet nutritional guidelines.

The bill would create an incentive for restaurants to cook up healthier options, Councilman Leroy Comrie said.

“If we can get the fast food companies to brand and create nutritious meals where children could receive toys, they would be just as excited,” he said.

Meals would be required to be less than 500 calories, as well as low in fat and sodium, according to the proposed law outlined by Comrie’s office Tuesday. Any single food would have to be less than 200 calories. Violators would initially be fined $200 to $500.

So in other words, a Happy Meal would have to consist of carrot and celery sticks and maybe a half of a tuna fish sandwich (on whole wheat) to include a toy. I’m sure kids will be “just as excited” for that – LOL!

What makes this career apparatchik such an expert on childhood obesity and the fast food business? Why, his vast personal experience – and obvious girth.

Comrie, who is himself overweight, has publicly acknowledged his battle with weight and said he ate Happy Meals regularly as a child. He also said he failed to set a good example for his own children by allowing them to eat fast-food.

“Clearly, my weight has always been an issue, and it’s something that has given me the impetus to do this bill,” Comrie, who has confessed he weighs more than 320 pounds, said, according to The New York Post.

He regularly ate Happy Meals (probably several at a time) but he doesn’t say it was because of the wonderful toys inside. I guess we’re just supposed to assume that. He also failed to set a good example for his own kids by allowing them to eat fast food. Hmmm, I guess he’s on a guilt trip or something.

McDonalds has been in the food business for more than 50 years so they probably know more about it than this barrage balloon.

Education Dept: The anti-bully bully

Posted in BIG Government, Culture, Government Schools, Huh? WTF?, Nanny State, The Regime on March 16, 2011 by DaMook

At a recent anti-bullying conference our dear comrade leader claimed that he was a “victim” of bullying and vowed to throw the full weight of the government leviathan behind efforts to stop it (story here). Apparently the regime has solved all the other problems facing America today.

Speaking as a parent and as a victim, Obama urged everyone to help end bullying by working to create an atmosphere at school where children feel safe and feel like they belong. He said that even he felt out of place growing up.

“I have to say, with big ears and the name that I have, I wasn’t immune,” said Obama, who moved around a lot as a boy, being born in Hawaii and growing up there and in Indonesia. “I didn’t emerge unscathed,” he said.

Notice the obligatory “being born in Hawaii” reference – as if that has anything at all do do with the story. Our poor dear comrade leader was a “victim” of childhood bullying. Perhaps that would explain why he’s such a bully now.

Possibly as an outcome of this conference, the Department of Education has announced new mandates for school administrators to stop bullying by any means necessary or face federal lawsuits. The new mandates include monitoring student behavior outside of school (story here from the DC).

Education Department officials are threatening school principals with lawsuits if they fail to monitor and curb students’ lunchtime chat and evening Facebook time for expressing ideas and words that are deemed by Washington special-interest groups to be harassment of some students.

There has only been muted opposition to this far-reaching policy among the professionals and advocates in the education sector, most of whom are heavily reliant on funding and support from top-level education officials. The normally government-averse tech-sector is also playing along, and on Mar. 11, Facebook declared that it was “thrilled” to work with White House officials to foster government oversight of teens’ online activities.

The agency’s threats, which are delivered in a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter,” have the support of White House officials, including President Barack Obama, who held a Mar. 10 White House meeting to promote the initiative as a federal “anti-bullying” policy.

The letter says federal officials have reinterpreted the civil-rights laws that require school principals to curb physical bullying, as well as racist and sexist speech, that take place within school boundaries. Under the new interpretation, principals and their schools are legally liable if they fail to curb “harassment” of students, even if it takes place outside the school, on Facebook or in private conversation among a few youths.

“Harassing conduct may take many forms, including verbal acts and name-calling; graphic and written statements, which may include use of cell phones or the Internet… it does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents [but] creates a hostile environment … [which can] limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by a school,” according to the far-reaching letter, which was completed Oct. 26 by Russlynn Ali, who heads the agency’s civil rights office.

School officials will face lawsuits even when they are ignorant about students’ statements, if a court later decides they “reasonably should have known” about their students’ conduct, said the statement.

So let me get this straight. School teachers and administrators are supposed to monitor every student’s behavior both inside and outside the school for something that might conform to some federal bureaucrat’s nebulous description of bullying? Is this for real? According to the government description, someone with a sufficiently thin skin could point to a Facebook post or hallway conversation that would bring the full force of government down on the school. What planet are these people from?

The remedies being pushed by administration officials will also violate students’ and families’ privacy rights, disregard student’s constitutional free-speech rights, spur expensive lawsuits against cash-strapped schools, and constrict school official’ ability to flexibly use their own anti-bullying policies to manage routine and unique issues, said the NSBA letter. The government has not responded to the NSBA letter.

The leading advocate for the expanded rules is Kevin Jennings, who heads the Education Department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. Jennings founded the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network advocacy group, and raised at least $100,000 for the Obama campaign in 2008, according to Public Citizen, a left-of-center advocacy group. In an September 2010 interview on the government’s StopBullying.gov website, Jennings said that “in a truly safe school … students feel like they belong, they are valued, they feel physically and emotionally safe.”

Kevin Jennings and his GLSEN organization have a decidedly nefarious past (more here). Here’s an excerpt from the linked post:

Out of curiosity to see exactly what kind of books Kevin Jennings and his organization think American students should be reading in school, our team chose a handful at random from the over 100 titles on GLSEN’s grades 7-12 list, and began reading through.

What we discovered shocked us. We were flabbergasted. Rendered speechless.

We were unprepared for what we encountered. Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air. One memoir even praised becoming a prostitute as a way to increase one’s self-esteem. Above all, the books seemed to have less to do with promoting tolerance than with an unabashed attempt to indoctrinate students into a hyper-sexualized worldview.

This whole thing sounds like something out of Orwell’s 1984. The best thing we can do is demand that congress abolish the Department of Education.

Half-cocked: NYC mayor investigates gun purchases – in Arizona

Posted in BIG Government, Culture, Nanny State on February 2, 2011 by DaMook

There’s little doubt that NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg is one of the top commanders of the Nanny State brigade. After literally buying his way into Gracie Mansion, Bloomberg has left little in the way of daily life untouched by NY nanny-statism (more here).

He’s added laws to the books that fine storeowners for having too many letters in their awnings, or ticket cars that are rendered immobile by snowstorms. And don’t even think about lighting up in a bar, sitting on a milk crate, or putting your bag down on the adjoining subway seat. The kind of velvet fascism that rules American corporate culture now rules Gotham, a city once celebrated for its louche glamour and gritty countercultural style, something many puritans wrongly misremember as being only coexistent with rampant crime.

Bloomberg is also one of the nation’s leading advocates of strict gun control policies because, you know, if we disarm the public, everyone will be safer. After all, everyone knows that criminals obey gun laws – right? He has long been an outspoken critic of “lax” gun laws in neighboring states – blaming them for the proliferation of guns in NYC. To prove his point about this, Bloomberg has sent “investigators,” paid by NY City, to make gun purchases at various locations – particularly gun shows in nearby states which do not require FBI background checks for private gun sales. While it may make some sense for someone to drive from NYC to Virginia or North Carolina to purchase a gun, Bloomberg’s latest foray is nothing but over-the-top grandstanding (story here).

Weeks after the shooting in Tucson, sellers at an Arizona gun show allowed undercover investigators hired by New York City to buy semiautomatic pistols even after they said they probably couldn’t pass a background check, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

“After Tucson, you would think that people, particularly at a gun show in Arizona, would have been much more careful in enforcing the law,” he said. “That unfortunately in some cases wasn’t the case.”

Bloomberg has authorized similar sting operations around the country as part of a push for tougher federal laws to help keep guns off the streets of New York.

But in the sensitive aftermath of the shooting Jan. 8 that killed six people and critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the mayor was questioned about the time and place of his hidden-camera investigation, a $100,000 operation conducted almost clear across the country.

“Let me get this straight: From New York City, they are going to send people to Arizona to look into this?” said state Sen. Ron Gould, a Republican. “They might take a look a little closer to home if they are concerned about guns getting in their state.”

Jim Cavanaugh, a retired agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, where he was in charge of the Nashville division, said he didn’t believe the sales described by the mayor were, in fact, illegal.

“It’s not a prosecutable offense” because the purchasers were not truly felons, minors or drug abusers and because they didn’t tell the sellers definitively that they were, Cavanaugh said. As for Bloomberg, he said, “ATF has asked him not to do it and to please coordinate with ATF if he thinks a violation is occurring.”

In 2007, the U.S. Justice Department warned in a letter to City Hall that such civilian operations risk “legal liabilities” and can “unintentionally interrupt or jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations.”

NYC to Phoenix, AZ – 2452 miles. Not exactly a day trip. So what’s this nonsense really about? Publicity for his cause.

The mayor conceded that most illegal guns in New York City are coming from states along the East Coast, but said the rampage in Tucson would bring national attention to the investigation.

The city-hired investigators also obtained a Glock gun and 33-round extended magazine similar to those authorities have said Jared Loughner used to open fire as Giffords met with constituents outside a supermarket.

Investigators have said Loughner legally purchased his ammunition the morning of the attack. He had cleared a federal background check and legally bought a Glock 19 at a big-box sporting goods store two months earlier.

So the whole point of this stunt is undermined by the fact that the Tucson gunman broke no federal or state laws and had actually cleared an FBI background check. Way to go Mike, now you’ve pissed off the toughest sheriff in the country to boot (more here).

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is grumbling about Mayor Bloomberg’s undercover sting. He says his office wasn’t notified about the operation — and he’s taking aim at Bloomberg via Twitter.Arpaio tweeted about sending deputies to New York City to check out their gun and immigration laws. He also called out Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.

“Where’s the coordination with this mayor flooding this area with investigators, paid by him or the City Council in New York?” Arpaio told FOX 10.

“I wonder if he got in touch with his buddy here the Mayor of Phoenix… I’ll be glad to send my volunteer posse or my people into New York to determine his problems that he has, so why is he worried about Arizona? We have good weapon laws; every citizen has the right to possess guns, so why is he concerned about it?”

Attorney General Tom Horne is blasting Bloomberg, calling the investigation nothing more than a publicity stunt.

The Phoenix Police Department told FOX 10 it was unaware of the sting.

Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said, “I think it was a little bit unfair to the city of Phoenix. To try to make an assumption or comparison that the tragedy down in Tucson had something to do with not doing background checks at a gun show, that there’s a correlation there, I don’t see that. The gun involved in the Tucson incident was purchased legally at a gun store.”

With a huge budget deficit, failing schools and crumbling infrastructure, mayor “No Salt” should probably direct his attention to issues closer to home. There must be some more things like “distracted walking” he needs to protect NYers from.

NY lawmaker wants ban on “walking & talking” – Huh? WTF???

Posted in BIG Government, Culture, Government Folly, Huh? WTF?, Nanny State on January 27, 2011 by DaMook

pea brain

In the race to determine which state can impose the most ridiculous nanny-state sanctions on its beleaguered citizens, NY is certainly a perennial top contender. In the pitifully small and simple minds of NY’s ruling elite, New Yorkers are just incapable of protecting themselves from the dangers of daily life. Thus, being the benevolent shepherds that they are, the ruling class must do what they can to steer their flock through the minefield of life in the Empire State. After all, New Yorkers, this is for your own good. These people are trying to save you.

Without supporting research, it is difficult to discern what type of threshold must be crossed to trigger a nanny-state reaction in the pea brain of a NY politician. The only known fact is that the threshold is exceedingly low, and it covers a broad spectrum of seemingly innocuous activities. According to this story the latest activity that must be banned is “distracted walking.” You know, like crossing a street while talking on a cell phone or listening to music. Huh? WTF?

After targeting distracted drivers, some New York lawmakers want to go after distracted walkers. They are looking to ban them from using iPods, music players and cell phones while walking and crossing the street.

At E.A.T. restaurant on Madison Avenue they still haven’t gotten over the death of co-worker Jason King, killed last month when a truck hit him as he crossed the street while listening to his iPod.

Jason was just 21 and his death and along with other accidents involving people using electronic gadgets while walking is why Brooklyn Sen. Karl Kruger is looking to ban things like cell phones and iPods for pedestrians crossing the street.

“We have people who are literally dying in the street,” Kruger said.

Dying, Kruger said, not because they are distracted drivers but because they are distracted walkers.

OMG! People are literally dying in the street! Not from gunshots or assaults, but from “distracted walking.” Oh, the humanity! They even found some sheeple who agree with this.

Charles Tabasso, 14, admitted he’s one of them because he listens to his iPod constantly.“I would probably get run over right now if it weren’t for my awesome parents,” Tabasso said.

His mom agreed.

“As a parent I am definitely in favor of banning these things,” Tullia Tabasso said.

And as a parent, Tullia, you’re an idiot for wanting the government to do your job for you. You’re part of the problem and the government is not the solution.

Some said they object to the move as an intrusion by government into the everyday lives of people — the nanny state syndrome.

“When people are doing things that are detrimental to their own well being, then government should step in,” Kruger said.

No senator Kruger, the government should not step in. Shit happens, and sometimes bad shit happens. Millions of people walk the streets of NY every day and it’s probably safe to assume that at least 50% of them are “distracted” in one way or another. As much as you would like to wrap everyone in your government-issue straight jacket, it is not the role of government to protect a few stupid people from harm by punishing everyone.

US Customs saves woman from chocolate egg

Posted in BIG Government, Culture, Government Folly, Nanny State on January 12, 2011 by DaMook
Kinder egg

Dangerous contraband

More nanny-state drama. According to this story (from Reason Magazine), US Customs confiscated a Kinder Chocolate Surprise candy egg from a Canadian woman at the US border.

Lind Bird had no idea she was in posession of illegal goods when she tried to cross the border from Canada to the United States with a $2 chocolate Kinder Surprise egg in her car. But astute U.S. customs officials detected her confectionery contraband at once, and seized it from the appropriately-named Bird.Little did Bird know, the Kinder egg could have resulted in a $300 fine. The toy surprise inside has been declared an unacceptable choking hazard by U.S. officials. (I’ve never had a Kinder Surprise egg, but a gander at the image at right suggests you’d have to be awfully intent on getting that chocolate into your system not to notice the huge, bright yellow plastic capsule inside.)

Instead of getting to chow down on a chocolate egg when she got home, Bird was treated to a 7-page letter from U.S. customs officials seeking official permission to destroy the egg.

“I thought it was a joke. I had to read it twice. But they are serious,” she said.

The letter states if Bird wishes to contest the seizure, she’ll have to pay $250 for it to be stored as the two sides wrangle over it.

Bird is far from along in having run afoul (afowl?) of the anti-egg law:

The U.S. takes catching illegal Kinder candy seriously, judging by the number of them they’ve confiscated in the last year. Officials said they’ve seized more than 25,000 of the treats in 2,000 separate seizures.

Please MAKE IT STOP!