Paternalism at Home and Abroad

August 17, 2010

Two recent news items point out that government paternalism knows no geographical boundaries. The first is from China, the other from here at home.

In China:

… the city of Beijing has resumed mandatory daily workplace calisthenics, after a three-year break. Radio broadcast exercise regimens first began in 1951, but were suspended in 2007 ….

And in our country’s version of Beijing, California:

In San Francisco, newly proposed legislation would ban toys from most kids meals sold at McDonald’s, Burger King and other chains unless the meals meet more stringent calorie and sodium limits. The legislation also would require fruit or veggies in each meal.

Leave it to government, both here and across the ocean, to limit individual choice and freedom via mandates or prohibitions that do not act in any legitimate way to protect individual rights (the core purpose of government). Instead, they are too busy making sure we are healthy.

Raw-Food Raid

July 28, 2010

Imagine the scene. Cops barge in, guns drawn. “Sir, place the raw milk down and put your hands in the air!” That was apparently the sight at a recent raid of a California organic grocery store.

A Los Angeles Times story notes the following:

With no warning one weekday morning, investigators entered an organic grocery with a search warrant and ordered the hemp-clad workers to put down their buckets of mashed coconut cream and to step away from the nuts. Then, guns drawn, four officers fanned out across Rawesome Foods in Venice. Skirting past the arugula and peering under crates of zucchini, they found the raid’s target inside a walk-in refrigerator: unmarked jugs of raw milk.

The raid was reportedly a coordination among several government agencies: the county’s Department of Public Health and district attorney’s office, the state Department of Food and Agriculture, the FDA, and the federal Department of Agriculture. What concern motivated them to barge in with guns aimed: raw food. The thought! A video of the raid is also posted on the LA Times website.

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Regulate Internships, Get Fewer of Them

April 6, 2010

As if finding the right internship wasn’t hard enough, college students may soon find another obstacle to getting their foot in the door in their prospective occupations: government regulators. A recent report in The New York Times notes the frustration which some regulators are having with companies they believe are using unpaid internships to save money.

The article notes the following:

Convinced that many unpaid internships violate minimum wage laws, officials in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined employers. Last year, M. Patricia Smith, then New York’s labor commissioner, ordered investigations into several firms’ internships. Now, as the federal Labor Department’s top law enforcement official, she and the wage and hour division are stepping up enforcement nationwide.

Regulators argue that they are only protecting the interns from unfair exploitation (read: expanding the nanny state), claiming that some companies use the title “internship” as an excuse to not pay employees. But wouldn’t these misled “interns” and sponsoring schools soon catch on to such a ploy from companies and reject further dealings with those deceptive firms? Or, do the regulators, as is often the case, view these students and schools as incapable of making these types of judgements on their own without the guiding hand of government (read: paternalism)?

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Health-Care ‘Reform’ Facts

March 20, 2010

PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times political fact-checking site, just recently posted what they view to be the top facts to know about the proposed health-care reform. They are posted below with further elaboration from me:

  1. The plan is not a government takeover of health care like in Canada or Britain.” This is true in the sense that it will not involve the government employing all health-care workers and providing all health-care services. However, it is a giant leap into a more heavily regulated health-care system. Some have viewed it as trojan horse to bring about a “single-payer” (government pays for it) health-care system.
  2. Insurance companies will be regulated more heavily.” I have no argument with this one. This further regulation will no doubt lead to rising premiums to cover the costs of the new government impositions. The cost to provide insurance will go up. Remember, if you want less of something, regulate or tax it.
  3. Everyone will have to have health insurance or pay a fine, a requirement known as the individual mandate.” This is also true. Leaving the paternalism in such a mandate aside, there is also a strong argument that it is unconstitutional. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=health+care&iid=8281761″ src=”a/8/6/e/Speaker_Pelosi_And_4d9c.jpg?adImageId=11461241&imageId=8281761″ width=”234″ height=”155″ /]
  4. Employers will not be required to buy insurance for their employees, but large employers may be subject to fines if they don’t provide insurance.” For “large” employers (more than 50 employees), this would mean added costs to employ individuals. That would potentially mean less employment — something highly undesirable at any time, let alone a time when the jobless rate is still near 10 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Subsidizing Fat

March 11, 2010

Those promoting efforts to boost health eating among the nation’s poor should take heed to this chart which originally appeared in 2007 on the Web site for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM):


Often, proponents of healthier eating lobby government to nudge individuals into consuming healthier foods and beverages by taxing unhealthy products. These same people decry the fact that, in general, less healthy foods like burgers are often cheaper than healthier choices like salads and fruit.

The chart seems to show part of the reason: government subsidies of meat and dairy. As the PCRM site notes:

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Drinking Down Paternalism

March 10, 2010

Government paternalism seemingly never goes out of fashion. One recent example comes in the form of a beverage tax proposed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

The tax has been dubbed as both a way to increase revenue to the city and nudge individuals into healthier beverage choices and potentially better health. Leave it to government to profit off of telling people what to drink.

The proposed tax would apply to “sugar-sweetened beverage(s),” which are defined as “any non-alcoholic beverage with added sugar, including: soda, non100%-fruit drinks, sports drinks, flavored water, energy drinks, and ready-to-drink sweetened tea and coffee.” This would exempt diet drinks without sugar added. The tax would amount to 2 cents per ounce. Quick math: That’s 64 cents added to the price of a medium drink (typically 32 ounces).

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=soda+tax&iid=1612348″ src=”7/a/d/9/Doctors_To_Call_f5e6.jpg?adImageId=11143933&imageId=1612348″ width=”195″ height=”260″ /]Anyone for bottled water or diet? Philadelphians may not prefer those drinks, but thanks to the ever-increasing nanny state, it may become the wiser financial decision. It may also become the wiser decision for many others, given that similar taxes have been proposed elsewhere in the nation and President Obama has in the past voiced support for such measures. It is likely that the federal government’s “reform” efforts to control health-care costs will only serve as another excuse for government to regulate the drinking and eating habits of individuals.

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Obama’s ‘Jobs Bill’: Government Redirecting the Economy

January 28, 2010

President Obama put forth certain steps to include in a “jobs bill” (read: another stimulus bill) last night in his first State of the Union Address. These steps included the following:

  • $30 billion to community banks to loan to small businesses
  • tax credit to small businesses “who hire new workers or raise wages”
  • tax incentives for businesses to ‘invest in new plants and equipment”
  • additional infrastructure spending (e.g.; high-speed rail in places like Florida)
  • tax rebates to “Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean-energy jobs”
  • tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the U.S.

At first glance, to many these steps may seem laudable. Lost, however, is the realization that all of these steps involve government direction of the economy. Money to community banks and infrastructure takes money away from individuals (either through taxes, borrowing or inflationary money printing) and redirects it to what government deems worthy, and tax credits and incentives subsidize those activities government prefers.

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Small Step, Big Government

December 3, 2009

Yet another example of government paternalism is this Web site from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

There’s something just a tad amusing about an increasingly bloated government giving weight loss and fitness advice to people. It’s almost as funny as government giving financial advice to people.

Premiums Under the Senate Bill

December 1, 2009

Though the findings of a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on projected insurance premiums under the Senate health-care “reform” legislation are mixed, it does predict some disappointing results for those purchasing insurance individually.

One important point it projects is the following:

… the average premium per person covered (including dependents) for new nongroup policies would be about 10 percent to 13 percent higher in 2016 than the average premium for nongroup coverage in that same year under current law.

The reason for this particular increase is that the insurance companies would be required under the law to cover more care in their plans. Individuals without insurance would be required to purchase a plan conforming to the minimum standards set by law or face a fine. For some, those minimum standards may be more coverage than they are voluntarily willing to pay for. That’s where the government steps in essentially forcing them to do so.

One other interesting point from the report is that overall average premiums would go down because of individuals obtaining coverage who would have not done so without the coercion from the government. These individuals, the report argues, generally have lesser medical expenses. One important reason their medical expenses may be lower is because they tend to be younger. The younger, and generally healthier, pool of insurance-plan holders skews the average costs lower.

Really, this predicted overall reduction would just be a sly way of making it look like actual health-insurance costs have gone down. These individuals would have never purchased insurance had the government not coerced them through the so-called “individual mandate.” So, in reality, their costs for coverage have gone way up, because they are being coerced into purchasing coverage they may not really want.

Government paternalism has led to the point where politicians now think it is OK to force people into purchasing something they do not want. Forget the Constitution.

A Real ‘Nanny’ State

October 21, 2009

This story is a few weeks old, but it highlights the furtherance of the nanny state … literally. In a previous post, I mentioned the burdensome regulations put on individuals watching other people’s children in both Michigan and Europe. Now, a similar ordeal seems to be happening in Massachusetts.

According to this report from the Boston Herald, the state passed new regulations taking effect in January which would require the following:

Child-care workers are now called “educators.”

Written progress reports must be issued every three to six months that track the cognitive, social, emotional, language, motor and life skill developments of infants and preschoolers.

 Day-care providers must “assist” with toothbrushing after all meals, or for any children on site for four hours or more.

Nannies must devise a “curriculum” that provides “evidence that programs provide specific, planned learning experiences” and that supports “school-readiness.”

To call this evidence of a nanny state is no stretch of the imagination. Policies like these only perpetuate the paternalistic manner in which government treats its citizens.