American Elephants

The “Nanny State” Isn’t Funny. It’s a Power Grab. by The Elephant's Child
March 3, 2012, 5:21 pm
Filed under: Education, Freedom, Law, Statism | Tags: , ,

Jessie Sansone’s four-year-old daughter drew a picture of a man with a gun in her Kitchener, Ontario kindergarten class, with a crayon — and then all hell broke loose.

Waterloo Police met Sansone at the school when he tried to pick up his children. He was told he was charged with possession of a firearm, he was handcuffed and put in one of the several squad cars waiting outside. At the station, he was strip-searched, told to disrobe and bend over, then put in a cell.

Police went to his house, told his pregnant wife that he had been charged with possession of firearms, and that she would have to come with them, and her 15 month old daughter would have to go with a social worker. Mrs. Sansone called her mother who rushed over to take the child. The children had been taken without their parents’ knowledge to Family and Children’s Services and were being interviewed by social workers.

Sansone said that police searched his house and found a plastic gun that shoots foam darts. Sansone said his daughter was drawing him getting the bad guys and monsters.

These things happen with increasing frequency. Lack of common sense, political correctness, overreaction, Nanny state.

Local police say they will review how they handled the case, but won’t apologize. The head of Children’s Aid said she would do everything the same way tomorrow. The superintendent of Waterloo Region District School Board, Gregg Bereznick, said:

“We do work hand in hand with the families because we co-parent.”

There’s the problem, in a nutshell. Co-Parent? When did parents allocate co-parenting to the state? The Alberta government has just released an updated Education Act which tells homeschooling families that they cannot teach certain things in their homes. Under this new bill, nothing in the education of a child can go against the Alberta Human Rights Act.

If you recall, this was the “Human Rights” group that prosecuted Ezra Levant for 900 days under that act for daring to publish the Mohammed cartoons in his former magazine, The Western Standard. And this was the group that unsuccessfully prosecuted Mark Steyn for quoting what another author said about Islam in an article.

O.K. This is Canada. But we have had the same sort of thing here. Children belong to the state? Didn’t we just have an example of government deciding what your children may eat and determine that the lunch mother packed at home is not suitable?

Government will decide what kids are to be taught and how much is to be education and how much is to be indoctrination? Are your children to be taught to fear global warming or that there is controversy about climate change? Have you gone to YouTube to view “the Story of Stuff?” Are your kids learning history from Howard Zinn’s deplorable People’s History of the United States? Have you read your kid’s school books?

Big Government And The Invisible Hand. by The Elephant's Child

Republicans talk a lot about Big Government, when they aren’t talking about Jobs and Free Enterprise, complaining about Spending and ObamaCare, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, and Defense, and a few other things as well.  So what’s the big deal about Big Government?

The United States of America was devised as a country of free people who granted certain limited powers to their government. Politicians, being what they are, are by their very nature inclined to think that they ought to do something about whatever seems to be a problem. Liberals — or Progressives as they prefer to style themselves, since ‘liberal’ has become a tainted word — as the perpetually discontented party — are  convinced that government is capable of solving all problems.

If you are going to buy that, then you probably believe that there are real experts, that the masses of ordinary citizens aren’t too bright and need governmental help. And that’s where we get into trouble.

The private business of health insurance is not going to be so private anymore.  Insurance companies that want to raise their rates will have to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10% or more, according to Kathleen Sebelius HHS Secretary.  The Obama administration will decide what are acceptable rates.  Maybe Ms. Sebelius can speak to the packing companies about the price of bacon — it’s really gone up!

The Obama administration will also design a basic benefits package for the private insurance companies, telling them what they must cover,  The “essential benefits package” will be designed by “independent experts” from the Institute of Medicine and will be built on mid-tier plans currently offered by small employers, expanded to include certain services such as mental health, and squeezed into a budget. Private insurance companies will be required to follow the rules if they want to sell policies to small business.  You’ll be pleased to know that officials will hold “listening sessions” around the country before final decisions are made. Uh huh.

The newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) got its first director, and President Obama has declared that” Bank of America’s decision to impose a $5 debit card fee is exactly why we need somebody whose sole job it is to prevent this kind of stuff from happening.” I yield to no one in my annoyance at the new fee, but it isn’t President Obama’s job to tell a private bank what fees they may or may not offer. All power rests in a single director. Bad idea.  Scrap the agency. There are no consumer safeguards and it’s an unnecessary agency.

There is a crisis faced by many hospitals that can’t get their hands on a growing list of both routine and life-saving drugs.  Doctors are rationing, clinical trials interrupted and black markets have emerged.  What’s happening? Lots of excuses, but it boils down to governmental ignorance of the invisible hand described by Adam Smith in 1776. The free market solves supply and demand, over time, by adjusting price. High prices call forth more supply, large volume users get discounts. It is a natural self-organizing marketplace. Instead, government experts have fixed prices by specifying Medicare reimbursement which also sets the benchmark for private insurers.  Remove the ability to raise prices when demand exceeds supply and shortages will follow.

The drive to force kids to eat the foods of which Michelle Obama approves continues. The Department of Agriculture wants to limit starchy foods to one cup a week per student. That is potatoes, lima beans, corn and peas.  Having eliminated donuts, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, soft drinks and high-fructose corn syrup they are on to new territory.  They want kids to try new vegetables. (American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands may serve yams, plantains or sweet potatoes to meet the grains/ bread requirement).  US officials admit that the proposed regulations “may pose a particular challenge to implement.” What they don’t seem to grasp is that the federal government has no business dictating the food choices of our kids.

The Obama administration is seeking new power over hiring and firing at religious institutions.  Americans hear constantly about the threats posed by the religious right who want to offer a short nondenominational prayer at graduations or football games. The Obama administration wants to control who religious institutions can hire or fire, and are declaring that the ‘ministerial exception’ is not grounded in the First Amendment, and that the free exercise clause nor the establishment clause have nothing to do with a church’s relationship with its own employees. Injecting itself into personnel matters is way over the line.

Thanks in part to environmental rules, electricity rates are about to get double-digit increasesJust as Obama promised.  Utilities are seeking permission to pass on hundreds of millions of dollars in new charges to customers for the cost of upgrading and retrofitting power plants so they won’t emit any of the carbon dioxide  that our planet needs so much. The costs due to “tougher environmental regulations” are avoidable. They are the product of choices, most of them unsound. Trying to scrub and eliminate CO2 emissions is counterproductive.  CO2 is not a pollutant but a naturally occurring gas necessary for life.

Most of these government encroachments would take place without much notice, but when you look at the big picture, the continuing grasp for control is pretty scary.  It isn’t any one regulation, it’s the spider web of big laws and little regulations, the proliferation of agencies and departments designed to control this or that aspect of citizens lives. It is the impulse to tyranny, devised by those who think they are smarter than everybody else, think they know better what people need.  Then layer on the one “expert” put in charge, the regulations designed to favor supporters, the laws foolishly devised by those who have no idea how the economy works, and suddenly you awake one morning in 1984.

They aren’t smarter.  Their laws aren’t going to work— as has been proven over and over by the evidence they won’t bother to investigate — and the only question become can we stop it before it all collapses?

Central Planning by The Elephant's Child
April 18, 2011, 5:50 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, History, Statism | Tags: , ,

We complain about “paternalism,” and about “nanny government,” and about the “elites” in Washington who presume to tell us how to live our lives.  People hate twisty CFL lightbulbs, and resent the governmental ban on ordinary incandescent bulbs, especially when they find out that the ban was initiated so lightbulb makers could make more profit. Calorie counts on all menus, forbidding children from bringing their lunch from home, restrictors on showerheads, the list goes on and on.

It is all the same syndrome. Instead of turning their attention to their own lives, they want to meddle in everyone else’s. First it is for your good health. Then it is to save energy, and save water, then it’s just something that annoys them, and pretty soon it’s a regulation that would help out a major supporter.

Power corrupts, and soon those who attain power start believing that government, at their direction, can better decide how taxpayer money should be invested, that government can do better research, that government can decide what products should be made and how they should be sold. Back in 2008, candidate Obama called for “an end to the age of oil in our time.”  He called for one million plug-in hybrids capable of 150 miles to the gallon.  He called for a $7,000 tax credit for consumers who bought early models.  He demanded one half of all car purchases by the federal government would be plug-in hybrids or all-electric by 2012.

How did we slip from a market-based economy to central planning? What made a community organizer, someone whose only executive experience was the disastrously failed Annenberg Challenge, and a stint as a part-time lecturer in civil rights law, decide that he knew better than the American people what products we should buy and use and produce? There’s a long history of Central Planning, and it never, never works.  Government, at best, is an enormous clumsy bureaucracy that does almost everything badly.

It’s top-down versus bottom-up.  When an individual has an idea, hones it until he has it right, is willing to mortgage his house and beg money from his relatives, then has to convince investors, venture capitalists or banks to finance his dream— and has to prove it over and over to bring it to market— that’s bottom-up. Some assume that vast spending by government will overcome technology hurdles, consumer preferences, and business acumen, and then economies of scale will bring down the price so the product can be justified in the market.

Lord Acton, the British historian, said “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  The Founders had experience of governmental power and they were wise enough to write a Constitution that limited the power of government.  We the People grant certain powers to our government —but government is not entitled to keep enlarging those powers without our consent, even when they think it’s for our own good.

Let’s Just Soak the Rich: The Liberal Answer! by The Elephant's Child

We don’t really have to cut spending, they say.  Just raise taxes on the rich and on those obscenely rich corporations.  Bill Whittle takes the theory on, with the help of IowaHawk.  Here’s the way the world really works.

Top Down Mandates or Bottom-Up Choice? by The Elephant's Child

We are a nation of something around 310,000,000 people.  How many people do you know with whom you agree completely on everything?  Yes, I thought so.  To me that suggests that there is something deeply wrong with the assumption that  you can fix everything with lots of rules and mandates established by wise but faceless bureaucrats in Washington DC.  We have a hard enough time enforcing the laws that everybody pretty much agrees on.

The Liberals’ theory is that a big and encompassing government can protect all the stupid and vulnerable people from their own folly and the troubles they encounter with wise and careful laws and regulations.  Republicans consider that to be folly, and think people will do fine on their own with only a minimum of laws that are fully enforced.  Liberals think that is mean and hard and unfair and Republicans should stop eating babies and let the people who know better run things.

Well, I drifted off there a little, but you get the general drift.  My Grandfather was a doctor, horse and buggy type, who did the best he could to take care of people who, accustomed to the wide-open spaces and vast mountains of the West, were generally pretty healthy except for the usual amount of sprains and breaks, wounds and babies. Which was just as well because his supply of palliatives to deal with illness and disease was not large. Antibiotics and diagnostic machines were unheard of, aspirin was new and sulfa and penicillin were far in the future. He was a good diagnostician, and fixed what was fixable at the time.

So how did we get here, with all sorts of miraculous medicines, tests and diagnostic machines to determine what might be wrong. Within a few blocks of my house you can find an acupuncturist, two drug stores, a chain store that sells only dietary supplements, a couple of chiropractic offices and a foot doctor, and eye doctor and a couple of dentists. Three hospitals are about fifteen blocks away, with all the medical practices and supporting businesses that accompany hospitals.

The problem with ObamaCare is that it has no proven ways to keep health care costs down.  So what happens when it goes into effect in 2014?  The best guide we have is Massachusetts, whose 2006 health-care overhaul was the model for ObamaCare. RomneyCare attacked the problem of “the uninsured” by fining them and their employers for their lack of being insured. It also subsidized premiums to make it possible for the uninsured to avoid paying the fine.

Costs have skyrocketed far beyond 2006 projections.  The administrators’ solution is to raise taxes, increase fines on employers, and put price controls on insurance premiums, which would force the insurers to further cut their reimbursements to hospitals and doctors. The flood of new patients and  the government’s underpayment for treating them has resulted in a critical shortage of doctors. And patients who cannot find doctors head to the emergency room.

The Harvard School of Public Health has issued a report on the urgent need for a comprehensive, unified, enforceable, inescapable tax-financed system to control every component of health care that a state can realistically control. An “independent board” should define the benefit packages and provider payments, set the budget that will determine the payroll tax rates.  This all powerful board will include all the major players.  There, that will fix everything. It is the inevitable liberal solution to a mess that they have created.

We really have quite a bit of experience with top down systems of control. Imposing an all-controlling and all-embracing system to control the lives and behavior of large numbers of people has never worked well.  We already have a critical shortage of doctors, particularly those who are willing to treat Medicaid patients. So ObamaCare plans to add another 18 million uninsured to the Medicaid rolls.  Medicaid is a shared a shared state-federal program created in 1965 designed as a limited safety-net program for low-income Americans.

At the state level, Medicaid spending consumes nearly a quarter of state government budgets.  One in four Americans in on Medicaid.  Federal mandates often preclude alternatives developed by states to save costs.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services make it impossible for states to innovate.  The proponents of ObamaCare do not consider state flexibility and innovation to be useful for effective reform.

It always seems to the fixers that everything could be made better with the proper set of regulations.  And it never, never works.  How about a bottom-up consumer-driven system? A what?  You could call it freedom, surely that is a familiar term.

Barking up the Wrong Tree! by The Elephant's Child
February 7, 2011, 8:26 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom | Tags: , ,

President Obama told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today that government and business “can and must work together.”

Rasmussen Reports found that 68% of likely U.S. voters believe that government and big business already work together against the interests of consumers and investors.  Their latest poll  shows that only 13^ disagree with that assessment, While 18 % are not sure.

The view that government and big business work together against the interests of others is shared across partisan, demographic and ideological lines.  Seventy percent of liberals and sixty-nine percent of conservatives share that view.

This indicates a massive chasm between Americans who seek freedom and self-governance and politicians who want to rule over them.

President Obama told the Chamber of Commerce today that “the role of government is to support the economic foundation by spending public money to improve transportation, education and communications systems.” Rasmussen’s earlier polling has found that 59% of voters believe that the primary purpose of government is to protect individual liberties and freedom.

That makes things fairly clear, doesn’t it.  Only 10% see managing the economy as government’s primary role.  24% see the government’s primary role as ensuring social justice.  And Americans consistently believe in lower taxes and lower government spending.

Government Knows Best! (Except When it Kills You) by American Elephant

The Federal Government has been telling us for years to avoid the sun, wear sunscreen, don’t tan. Democrat busy-body, control-freaks, always looking for new ways to save people from themselves, control their choices, and steal their money in the process, have recently passed increased taxation and regulation on the use of tanning beds.

But now comes new research by Professor Hakan Olsson, a leading cancer specialist at the oncology unit at Lund University in Sweden, who believes the risk of skin cancer is “far outweighed” by the benefits of sunlight to womens’  health:

He said there was overwhelming evidence that exposure to the sun helps protect against blood clots in the leg, which claim the lives of 25,000 Britons a year.

These clots, known as deep vein thromboses, have been shown to be far more prevalent in winter than summer.

Professor Olsson, who was presenting his research at the Swedish Society of Medicine, cited other studies showing that more patients are diagnosed with diabetes in the colder months, a phenomenon attributed to a lack of vitamin D.

For his study, he examined tanning habits and the incidence of illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes or malignant melanoma.

‘Our studies show that women with active sunbathing habits live longer,’ he said. [read more]

Which, if Professor Olsson’s research proves true, means busy-body, command-and-control “progressives” have driven countless women (and possibly men, the research was done only on women) to an early grave by scaring, regulating, and taxing them out of the sun. As they have caused countless deaths by forcing automakers to make lighter, less safe cars, killed countless millions around the world by blocking the use of DDT to kill malaria carrying mosquitoes, and caused countless more deaths by starvation by driving up the costs of food by getting farmers to grow crops for gas tanks instead of kitchen tables.

Yet more evidence that “consensus” in science is utter horsepucky. And yet another excellent reason that health decisions should be made between doctors and their patients, not by command and control government.

Exit question: You think Democrats will repeal their tanning regulations and “sin” taxes now that they have virtually destroyed that industry for no justifiable reason?


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