Category Archive 'Nanny State'
21 Apr 2020
UPDATE: New York Post: “De Blasioâ€™s social distancing tip line flooded with penis photos, Hitler memes.”
[A] caller phoned in a tip that de Blasio was seen performing oral sex on someone â€œin an alleyway behind a 7-11â€ early Sunday.
13 Feb 2020
Then they mean to take away your car, Jack Baruth predicts.
Iâ€™d be willing to bet that very few of you know who Richard Aborn is. He was the president of Handgun Control, Inc., in 1993 when the Brady Bill was passed. Prior to the billâ€™s passage, the NRA and others said that it would be the â€œcamelâ€™s nose under the tentâ€ of firearms legislation. This is a reference to an old saying that you canâ€™t just let the camelâ€™s nose into a tentâ€”you end up letting the whole camel in, whether you want to or not.
Anyway, when the Brady Bill was passed, Mr. Aborn grabbed a reporter and said, â€œ[The billâ€™s detractors were] right all along in fearing the waiting period was a camelâ€™s nose under the tent. Brady has now passed and it is time to reveal the rest of the camel!â€ At the time, I thought that was a little, ahem, bold of the man to say. Regardless of how you feel about gun control, you can probably agree with me that you shouldnâ€™t spike the football before the referee puts his hands up. But Mr. Aborn no doubt figured he was on the right side of history in this matter.
Across the Atlantic, the legislators both elected and unelected believe themselves to be on the right side of history when it comes to the privately-owned internal-combustion vehicleâ€”more specifically, when it comes to the demise of same. The UK just announced that it would ban the sale of gas or diesel cars by 2035, â€œor earlier, if possible.â€ When Neil Peart wrote Red Barchetta, that date was a robust 60 years away. Now itâ€™s closer in our windshield than the introduction of the second-generation Toyota Prius is in our rearview mirror, so to speak.
This astounding regulatory decision, made by people who canâ€™t gauge the UKâ€™s relative impact on the climate vis-a-vis Chinaâ€”or maybe they just read 1984 as an instruction manual, not a warningâ€”sickens me. Thereâ€™s only one thing to be said in its defense: at least itâ€™s kind of fair. Contrast it to the Europeans, who are doing something even nastier: their 2021 emissions standards require a fleet average of 58 mpg or thereabouts. You couldnâ€™t do that with an all-Prius fleet. Heck, not even the Plymouth Horizon Miser could hit that mark.
What the EU expects the automakers to do is simple: continue making Ferraris, AMG Benzes, and whatnot for the super-rich while forcing everyone else into an electric vehicle. So while British showrooms will force the same misery on everyone, kind of like the way everyone in London had to hide in the same shelters during the Blitz, the Europeans will make sure that the most privileged among us get to keep doing what they want while the average man or woman in the street gets stuck with a glorified golf cart.
(If you like, and if it fits your political worldview, youâ€™re also free to see this as a way to make the dirty plutocrats subsidize clean electric transportation for the proletariat through extra markup on their G-wagens or Range Rovers or whatever. Thereâ€™s room for all views here, except perhaps for those held by the people who weld enormous scrap-sheet metal fenders on old 911s for no reason.)
The delight with which the politicians are rolling out these regulations would make Richard Aborn blush.
29 May 2019
1939 Lincoln Zephyr front end.
Jeffrey Tucker explains that, after Big Government got done ruining the gas can, it went after automobile design.
Your car looks like a box. So does every other car. Itâ€™s boring, even shocking when you consider how awesome cars used to look. Whatâ€™s gone wrong? And to what extent has the design mess contributed to the decline of American auto manufacturing?
A recent letter to the Wall Street Journal comes close but misses the point. â€œBlame the Death of Design for U.S. Autosâ€™ Declineâ€ reads his headline. Speaking of Cadillacs and their declining sales, he writes: â€œThe 1957 coupe looked like nothing else on wheels then, and itâ€™s still stunning six decades later. The [new] XT6 and boxes of different sizes, identified with variations of letters and numbers, are the problem. A distinctive, prestigious and beautiful vehicle is the solution.â€
This seems right. You drive around today and can barely distinguish one wheeled box from another. We look through websites at concept cars and wonder why they never seem to exist. And whatever happened to the Golden Age of design?
The problem with the letter is that it only scratches the surface. The real problem is more fundamental. Designers did not somehow lose imagination over the last 25 years. The designs of new cars are boring because regulations forced this result. …
[I]â€™s not a choice. No manufacturer can make a car like this anymore. Step back from the situation and think about it. In the 1930s, phones were awful, and you were lucky to have one at all. No one today would give up a smartphone for one of those old things. Same with shoes, computers, televisions, ovens, and so much more. No one wants to go back.
We Want Old!
With cars, itâ€™s a different matter. Our sense of nostalgia is growing, not receding. But we donâ€™t even have the choice to go back. There will be no more pretty cars made and sold in the United States. The government and its tens of thousands of micromanaging regulations on motor vehicles will not allow it. …
It hasnâ€™t happened all at once. Itâ€™s been a bit at a time, taking place over four decades in the name of safety and the environment. The whole thing began in 1966 with creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, followed by the Environmental Protection Agency and dozens of others. Every regulator wanted a piece of the car.
Each new regulation seems like it makes sense in some way. Who doesnâ€™t want to be safer and who doesnâ€™t want to save gas?
But these mandates are imposed without any real sense of the cost and benefits, and they come about without a thought as to what they do to the design of a car. And once the regs appear on the books, they never go away. They are stickier than code on a patented piece of software.
The Rise of the Boxes
As the years marched on, the homogenization process rolled forward, with each generation of cars looking ever more like each other. You can even trace the problem by looking through the history of the Mazda Miata: this slick two-seater roaster eventually became a shrunken version of all the other cars on the road: swollen nose, rear, and beltline.
Try as they might, manufacturers have a terrible time distinguishing their cars from each otherâ€™s. Car homogenization has become something of an Internet meme. It turns out that all new cars more or less look alike. I had begun to notice this over the years and I thought I was just imagining things. But people playing with Photoshop have found that you can mix and match car grills and make a BMW look just like a Kia and a Hyundai look just like a Honda. Itâ€™s all one car.
Truly, this cries out for explanation. So I was happy to see a video made by CNET that gives five reasons: mandates for big fronts to protect pedestrians, mandates that require low tops for fuel economy, a big rear to balance out the big fronts, tiny windows resulting from safety regulations that end up actually making the car less safe, and high belt lines due to the other regs. In other words, single-minded concern for testable â€œsafetyâ€ and the environment has wrecked the entire car aesthetic.
And thatâ€™s only the beginning. Car and Driver puts this as plainly as can be: â€œIn our hyperregulated modern world, the government dictates nearly every aspect of car design, from the size and color of the exterior lighting elements to how sharp the creases stamped into sheetmetal can be.â€
You are welcome to read an engineerâ€™s account of what it is like to design an American car. Nothing you think, much less dream, really matters. The regulations drive the whole process. He explains that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards with hundreds of regulations â€” really a massive central plan â€” dictate every detail and have utterly ruined the look and feel of American cars.
In Washington, there are very big buildings with tens of thousands of employees sitting around all day with nothing to do but write new regulations. And there are lobbyists for auto companies offering suggested regs, intentionally designed to build deep moats around their businesses and to nobble the competition. Then come the insurance company bean-counters, determined to reduce their companies’ liabilities at any cost to your convenience or choice. You may get killed by defective air bag, but the statistics show that overall they save insurance companies money. And, after them, come the crazies and crackpots determined to save the trees and polar bears by taking away the internal combustion engine, one nut or bolt at a time.
27 Mar 2019
The EU Nanny State will be fucking up every new car sold in Europe after 2022.
Every new car built after May 2022 will be fitted with anti-speeding devices to alert drivers when they break legal limits, as well as in-built breathalysers to cut out engines when drink drivers get behind the wheel.
New vehicles will need to have an Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) limiter as standard after the European Parliament agreed on new rules in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
The alert system will ensure drivers observe speed limits through GPS and road sign recognition cameras.
EU governments and MEPs agreed on 30 new safety standards for cars, vans and trucks. The bill is set to be rubber stamped in a forthcoming vote of the European Parliament.
23 Jul 2016
The Guardian reports:
The news was enough to have French smokers choking on their morning cigarette: France is considering banning some tobacco brands because they are just too cool.
Among those threatened are Gitanes and Gauloises, beloved of Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre and Serge Gainsbourg, who was said to puff through five packets of filterless Gitanes a day.
The ban, which could also cover the Lucky Strike, Marlboro Gold, Vogue and Fortuna brands, is the logical conclusion of a new public health law â€“ based on a European directive â€“ which stipulates tobacco products â€œmust not include any element that contributes to the promotion of tobacco or give an erroneous impression of certain characteristicsâ€.
Reporting the ban, Le Figaro said that while the directive was â€œrelatively vagueâ€, it clearly covered anything suggesting â€œmasculinity or femininity, physical slimness, youth or sociabilityâ€.
Alarmed cigarette companies have written to the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, demanding a meeting â€œgiven the seriousness and urgency of the situationâ€ and asking for clarification and the chance to appeal against any ban before the new health code article, currently being considered by the council of state, is published in 10 daysâ€™ time.
I can remember the young Strobe Talbot, then editor of the Yale Daily News, stalking around campus in trenchcoat & beret, smoking a Gauloise.
04 Jul 2015
I may have found the actual cannon Mark is talking about.
Mark Steyn, back in 1999, was already lamenting the wussification of American July 4th celebrations.
[W]e’re fighting not just a jurisdictional challenge but a vast cultural tide, determined to ensure that every activity should be 100 per cent guaranteed safe, even if that means it’s no longer any fun.
Take, for example, that staple of every Fourth of July parade: cute little girl scouts waving to the crowds as their float passes by. The Swift Water Girl Scout Council, which oversees all girl scout troops in the state, has ruled that at this weekend’s parades the girls will have to be seated and buckled in on their floats, to comply with New Hampshire’s recent law requiring children to wear seat belts. “I can’t say nobody would ever enforce it,” said the Police Chief of Manchester, the state’s largest city. “But they’d look awful stupid.”
The girl scouts’ director is unapologetic. “If the float stopped quickly and the children are not secured, the children could have an accident,” said Jane Behlke.Since the scouting movement began there has been not a single girl scout parade float tragedy in New Hampshire, although one year in Merrimack Mr Peanut – a giant peanut – did lose his head (something to do with a low bridge). But nowadays the nuts who’ve lost their heads are the regulators. On Independence Day, where’s the spirit of independence?
It wasn’t always like this. Once the whole point of the Fourth of July was that it should be wild and dangerous. There’s a cannon on my town common that the boys used to fill with powder, stones and sod, and then touch off. Unmounted, it bucketed around, flipping somersaults and very occasionally shattering windows.
In 1939 Sarah Holt and Minnie Linton, who ran the guest house, refused to donate any money for gunpowder. Come the big night the guys dragged the cannon down to their front door and fired at the house for hours on end. The game spinsters told the guests that the boys were just a little high-spirited.
Indeed, the only reason my town has a jailhouse is because of the Fourth of July in 1892, when some fellow drank too much cider, went nuts and started trashing the place. After which they built a two-cell jail in case it happened again. I believe it’s the only jail in New England with wooden bars.
Recently, unable to find my 1995 tax bill, I asked to see the town’s copy. The selectman said they had run out of space at the town offices, so they were storing them in the jail. “My God,” I cried, aghast. “You’ve turned the town jail into a stationery cupboard!”
And there, in a nutshell, is the story of the modern western world: not enough wild independent spirit, just more paperwork.
The whole thing.
26 Apr 2015
The late Dan and Zanto
Opposing Views passes along a story that makes your blood boil.
A man in Denmark was so devastated when authorities seized and euthanized his dog that he took his own life.
Dan, whose last name has not been disclosed, was 27 years old.
Dan was given just eight days to prove that his dog Zanto was not one of the breeds banned in Denmark, and under Danish law, the burden to prove dog breed is placed upon owners. When he was unable to do so, authorities removed Zanto and arranged for him to be killed. Soon after Zanto was taken, Dan was reported to have overdosed on pain medication.
His dog, Zanto, had been euthanized in adherence with Denmarkâ€™s Breed Specific Legislation on Pit Bulls. Danish legislation titled the “Dog Act” also dictates that police are required to euthanize dogs that â€œsavageâ€ a person or another dog, but Zanto hadnâ€™t attacked anyone. He was simply considered an illegal breed.
The Dog Act bans the ownership and breeding of 13 breeds of dogs, including the Pitt Bull Terrier, Kangal, South Russian Shepherd Dog and American Bulldog. Some breeds have been illegal since 1991, but legislation in 2010 brought the number to 13.
30 Dec 2013
Try walking into a government building these days, and you’ll meet them.
In one of his best essays, Dan Greenfield, last year, explains how far we have come from the free country invented by the framers. Today’s America is a socialist, paternalist, dirigiste, thoroughly-regulated bureaucracy and police state, in which your personal habits and bank account are public property and in which you need to be searched regularly.
The average American still holds the fanciful belief that, if he isnâ€™t annoying anyone, he should be left alone. To the people running his country, this is as bizarre and unworkable as Phrenology or the Geocentric theory or handing out universal health care without also compelling everyone to buy it.
This is not a nation where people are left alone anymore. This is a nation where they are hounded from the moment they are born until the moment they die by the arms of a regulatory state run by men and women weaned on Cleaver, Alinsky, Fourier, Marx, Wells and countless others. This is a nation where, accordingly, being left alone is the greatest of luxuries.
It takes a lot of money to be left alone. Regulatory space is much more expensive than physical space, and buying it requires investing in lobbyists, fundraisers and lawyers. If you make the right payoffs, then you can buy the privilege of being left alone, exempted from regulations, going uninspected and protected against the agents of the state. But once you do that, you are no longer neutral. You have bought yourself the privilege of not being considered the problem; instead, you have become part of the solution for the people you are paying off.
The Americans bushwacked by ObamaCare, the scam artistâ€™s dream of a tax paid to a third-party in exchange for benefits accrued to a fourth party, still thought they had the freedom to take the middle, to despise meddling politicians in both parties, ignore most things the government did, while living their own lives. They had seen their savings devalued, their homes seized, their lives bedeviled by a thousand regulations, but they still thought that it was possible to take a middle-ground, to reject the solutions by asserting that they are not the problem.
They did not understand that in Cleaverland, in Alinskytown and in Obamavilleâ€”no one opts out. Either you volunteer of you get drafted. Raise your hand or you will be called on anyway. Not volunteering to be part of their agenda means that you are the problem.
You, sitting right there in your chair, watching these words move across your screen, are the problem. A problem 311,591,917 human souls strong. You eat too much or you donâ€™t pay enough taxes, you drive your car too often, you havenâ€™t bought solar panels for your roof, you browse extremist websites when you should be browsing government informational sites for tips on how to do or not do all of the above. But most of allâ€¦ you still donâ€™t understand what a great problem you are for the people running this country into the ground between the Atlantic and the Pacific. They keep trying to solve you, but you donâ€™t go away.
There is no neutrality when dealing with people who reject the very concept of neutrality. Who draw everyone into the long columns of their spreadsheets and catch everyone in their spiderâ€™s web. There is no middle ground with people who donâ€™t believe there is a middle ground, who believe that every human on earth is part of the problem and can only opt out of being the problem by joining up with them and following their directives.
That is what we are up against. We confront the Great Solvers of the Human Problem who are determined to arrange everyone and everything to their liking. They began by controlling everything that people did. Now, they have moved on to controlling what people donâ€™t do. If you live, if you breathe, if you stir, move your muscles, track moving objects with your eyes, then there are obligations imposed on you.
ObamaCare is one of the final declarations that there is no opting out. Even if you donâ€™t drive, own a home, own a business, own a dog, or do one of the infinite things that bring you into mandatory contact with the apparatus of your local, semi-local, trans-local, national or global government, you are committed to a task from maturity to death. Your mission is to obtain health insurance, and, in a system in which you become the ward of the government as soon as you taste air, it is the price that you pay for being alive.
In a free country, you are not obligated to do things simply for the privilege of breathing oxygen north of the Rio Grande and south of Niagara Falls. But this isnâ€™t a free country anymore; this is a country in which you get things for free. And there is a big difference between those two things.
11 Nov 2013
Jonah Goldberg discusses how the base philosophy of American government has changed. We are now ruled by people, like Barack Obama, who believe that they know better than we do ourselves what’s good for us.
Several times now, the president has endeavored to explain that itâ€™s not that big a deal millions of Americans are losing their health-insurance plans against their will. The people who had plans they liked didnâ€™t understand that the plans they liked were no good â€” they were the actuarial equivalent of trans fats, donâ€™t you know? The fact that the people who held them liked them, thought they were good, and wanted to keep them doesnâ€™t count for much, because the government knows best.
The president canâ€™t say it as plainly as he would like, because to do so would be to admit not only that he lied to the American people, but that he thinks the complainers are ignorant about their own needs and interests.
The presidentâ€™s more intellectually honest defenders have said exactly that. â€œVast swathes of policy are based on the correct presumption that people donâ€™t know whatâ€™s best for them. Nothing new,â€ tweeted Josh Barro, politics editor for Business Insider.
Barroâ€™s fairly liberal, but Iâ€™d be dishonest if I said that he was wrong from a conservative perspective. The difference, however, is that conservatives tend to see government as a necessary evil, and therefore see policymaking with some humility. Liberals tend to see government as a necessary good, and see ordering people to do things â€œfor their own goodâ€ as a source of pride, even hubris.
From a conservative perspective, telling people how to run their lives when not absolutely necessary is an abuse of power. For liberals, telling people how to run their lives is one of the really fun perks of working for the government.
You can see the frustration on the presidentâ€™s face. Itâ€™s almost like the ingrates who refuse to understand that his were necessary lies for their own good are spoiling all his fun.
07 Oct 2013
Dan Greenfield views Obamacare as a major landmark on our establishment elite’s route from Problemtown to Solutionville, and they are taking all of the rest of us along for the ride whether we like it or not.
You, sitting right there in your chair, watching these words move across your screen, are the problem. A problem 311,591,917 human souls strong.
You eat too much or you don’t pay enough taxes, you drive your car too often, you haven’t bought solar panels for your roof, you browse extremist websites when you should be browsing government informational sites for tips on how to do or not do all of the above. Most of all, you don’t understand what a great problem you are for the people running this country into the ground between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
They keep trying to solve you, but you don’t go away.
There is no neutrality when dealing with people who reject the very concept of opting out of a solution. There is no middle ground with people who don’t believe there is a middle ground, believing instead that every human on earth is part of the problem and can only stop being the problem by following their directives.
We confront the Great Solvers of the Human Problem who are determined to rearrange everyone to their liking. They began by controlling everything that people did. Now, they have moved on to controlling what people don’t do. If you live, if you breathe, if you stir, move your muscles, track moving objects with your eyes, then there are obligations imposed on you.
ObamaCare is one of the final declarations that there is no opting out. Even if you don’t drive, own a home, own a business, own a dog, or do one of the infinite things that bring you into mandatory contact with the apparatus of your government, you are committed to a task from maturity to death. Your mission is to obtain health insurance, and, in a system in which you become the ward of the government as soon as you taste air, it is the price that you pay for being alive.
In a free country, you are not obligated to do things simply for the privilege of breathing oxygen north of the Rio Grande and south of Niagara Falls.
But this isn’t a free country anymore; this is a country in which you get things for free. And there is a big difference between those two things.
Read the whole thing.
10 Aug 2013
Football practice at Yale, early last century.
Timothy Birdnow argues that the left’s recent efforts “to make football safer” are really expressions of their reflexive determination to eliminate competition and aggression and to emasculate America.
The liberal sports media has jumped on board. …), and, ironically, they may well kill the very sport that puts food on their tables. They can’t help it; a scorpion stings because it is a scorpion.
It is in this current climate of pacifism (and that is the purpose of the campaign: to turn football into a more pacific game, thus removing another layer of America’s masculinity) that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law mandating insurance for student-athletes.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The law says that a school’s minimum policy will cover $3 million in aggregate benefits or five years of coverage – whatever comes first – for injuries that total medical expenses over $50,000. The law includes public and private schools and state officials estimate that the cost of the coverage will be no more than $5 a student. Currently, some schools carry insurance for athletes, but it hasn’t been mandatory. The Illinois High School Association provides students with this catastrophic insurance for state tournaments.
First, one must ask why this is needed, since it will soon be the law of the land that everyone be covered by health insurance. I was under the impression that ObamaCare was designed specifically to fix this sort of problem. Why are schools in Illinois being made to pay for catastrophic health insurance when Mr. Obama, the product of that state’s political genius, has already addressed the issue? …
This will kill many sports programs in poor school districts and likely in the lion’s share of private or parochial schools. Would a struggling Catholic school spend money needed for actually educating students on sports insurance? It will become a choice between teaching and athletics for many schools.
Of course, such would suit the educational commissars just fine. There has been an increasing effort by the Progressives to straitjacket young children. Sports are one outlet they have targeted, with an increasingly regimented and organized approach to what were once thought of as children’s games. Michelle Obama may say “Let’s Move!,” but she wants all movement under her watchful eye. Gone are the days of sandlot football, of a bunch of kids getting together for a stickball game or a spontaneous game of field hockey. Children now devote much of their time to thumb exercises as computers replace the athletic field. When children are allowed to play, they are wrapped up like mummies lest they get a bruise.
All this teaches a lesson to the children: private, individual action is dangerous and should be avoided. Life must be lived within the guardrails, carefully planned and safeguarded by society.
Even more distressing to the left is that sports started as a means of training for soldiers. That is why football is so appealing to America; it is a he-man sport, a vestige of the old America, where an association of free men stand together in battle. Yes, team effort is required, but there is also plenty of room for heroics, and the individual may make a huge difference.
But at football’s core is a physicality bordering on violence, and to the left, that is anathema — an atavistic impulse that must be squeezed out of our children.
So instead of a healthy game of tackle football at recess, liberals substitute Ritalin and maybe a good heated game of tag.
Consider the war against dodgeball. Progressives fret that it is traumatizing children and have been systematically banning the game. Why? Nobody ever gets hurt from dodgeball, but Progressive educators still want it gone. That is because of the actual acts performed in the game: one physically tries to hit another. The goal of the left has been to make physical aggression taboo; thus, dodgeball, which teaches children to be physically aggressive, must go.
Read the whole thing.
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