Category Archives: Nanny statism

Aborting Jobs

There is a problem with education in this country. It isn’t the usual suspects of cost, class size, teacher workloads, mediocre test scores, or Common Core. No, the problem goes much deeper and is reflective of a societal change in attitude concerning the purpose of education: learning. We have allowed ourselves to misapprehend the structure of the thing (education) for the thing itself (learning). When we think “education” we think nice and tidy classes, desks, lectures, tests – a regimen. We don’t think unplanned conversations, spontaneous readings, curiosity driven experimentation. Learning is the random walk of the ant who never knows what he’ll discover. Education is the regimented march of the military battalion. We have become so accustomed to the structure of the former that we fear anything that differs (homeschooling, un-schooling, etc). If we want worker bee drones to work in our factories then perhaps regimented education is the best approach. But if we want free minds to push the boundaries of human knowledge then it is learning, and not education, that we should encourage.

Learning flourishes where the individual is not prohibited from following their passion and curiosity. Today an ever-growing plethora of rules and regulations smother the spark of curiosity that would otherwise ignite a passion for learning. This process has been slowly accelerating over the past few decades. I’ve seen this change in my own lifetime. My science fair project in high school utilized (expired) human blood as part of the experimental procedure. Today the hysteria over “blood born pathogens” would make such a project either impossible or a regulatory nightmare. Fear is what drives all these ridiculous restrictions. In recent days fear has once again struck, this time to new heights of stupidity. The recent arrest of Ahmed Mohamed at his school for making a homemade digital clock (that some mistook for a Hollywood-esque bomb) is symptomatic of this anti-learning pro-education-only-as-we-define-it mentality. After it became abundantly clear the device in question was not a “bomb” the entire matter should have been dropped perhaps only to be reflected upon years later as a humorous anecdote. But that is not what happened. Despite it being a mere clock, Ahmed was still handcuffed, arrested, and hauled off to jail. Although the charges were eventually dropped the school has still suspended him, for what it is unclear. Some have claimed this is evidence of an anti-Muslim attitude in this country, unfortunately I think it is indicative of something far worse: anti-intellectualism. Those that do things we don’t understand are scary and must be stopped. Time to start passing laws to restrict access to electronic parts – that will keep us safe.

This fear driven anti-intellectualism has already infected the natural sciences at the K-12 level. Some wonder why science is on the decline in this country, but when it comes to the venerable science fair a mountain of regulations scares off all but the most persistent or well-connected students interested in chemistry or biology. Both of my sons have gone through the science fair process and the message was loud and clear: unless you enjoy filling out forms and getting multiple approvals, choose a topic in an area other than biology or chemistry. Science in this country is dying a slow death of attrition. With each new generation there is yet another layer of regulation winnowing away those that pursue that path until one day I suspect one will need a law degree before they can even consider a science career.

I will offer up one more personal example. When my father was a teenager he actually made nitroglycerin. Why? He was fascinated by chemistry and wanted to see if he could do it (he discreetly detonated it in his backyard when done, much to the chagrin of my grandmother!) My point is that today if he could even manage to get his hands on the starting materials he’d be branded a domestic terrorist and thrown in jail. But because he was fortunate enough to live in a time when society was not so fearful and uptight, he took that passion for chemistry and turned it into a career that eventually gave rise to one of the few remaining US manufacturers with worldwide sales. People ask “where are all the jobs going?” – they aren’t going anywhere, they are being aborted before they ever even had a chance. Every rule and regulation or absurd response smothers a student’s curiosity and quenches the possibility of future companies and jobs. As with cancer, it is the damage we do not see that is far more insidious.

Fantasy Island

Consider the following scenario: You have just received an invitation in the mail from a friend. He is inviting everyone he knows to his beautiful tropical island. All are welcome to visit any time and stay as long as they want. There is just one catch: marauding pirates will attack anyone that comes near the island. The pirates patrol the skies above and the waters below as well as the surface. If you somehow do manage to outwit the pirates and make it to the island, your friend offers an additional warning: he has armed guards that will shoot anyone seen crossing the perimeter beaches. But – if you can make it past all of that – you are quite welcome there.

Now as schizophrenic as this sounds – “please come visit me, I’ll kill you if you try, but please come visit me” – it is not too far removed from the scenario that the government of the state of Georgia has just put into play with the passage of HB1 (also known as “Haleigh’s Hope Act”) and subsequent signing into law by Governor Nathan Deal last week.  HB1 legalizes the “possession” of medicinal marijuana. But only in the cannabis oil form. And, only if it is under 20 ounces. And only so long as it contains less than 5% THC. Caveat, conditions, and exceptions – “you can have this…except when… and only if…and as long as…” The politician’s lawmaking cookbook – liberally sprinkled qualifying conjunctions.

Ok, ok, well at least there is now a glimmer of hope for those that have a medical need for it, right? Well, almost. As long as one’s medical condition is on the short “approved” list of ailments: cancer, ALS, seizures, MS, Chrohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson’s disease and sickle-cell anemia. Funny, I thought Republicans were opposed to the government interfering in the doctor-patient relationship. In any event, if one is unlucky enough to suffer from one of these ailments that still may not be sufficient to qualify. A patient’s case must be considered severe or terminal… not in the opinion of one’s doctor mind you, but rather in the opinion of some faceless state bureaucracy to whom your doctor must now, on bended knee, plead your case whilst kissing its ring.

If a patient makes it past all those hurdles, then they can qualify for a registration card. This is their de facto “get out of jail free” card if they are ever found by police to be in possession of sub-20 ounce 5% dilutions of cannabis oil. But don’t get caught with 21 ounces or a 6% solution, otherwise it’s off to the big house you horrible menace to society you!

So while HB1 offers an invitation to an oasis of potential pain relief (the tropical island) it does not eliminate the marauding pirates or the armed guards. It is still illegal to grow or buy marijuana in Georgia (you know, the stuff you need to actually make the cannabis oil). It is likewise a violation of both Federal and Georgia state law to cross state lines to buy cannabis oil or have it shipped into the state. So to be clear on this: it is legal, pursuant to numerous conditions, to possess cannabis oil, however, all methods of actually acquiring the oil are still illegal. Well, magic as a method is legal. Perhaps the legislature envisions patients performing a Harry Potter style invocation to acquire their needed oil?

I will assume that the bill’s author (Rep. Allen Peake) and its sponsors did not set out to write a bad bill. I suspect they truly do want to help people suffering from the above (and many other unlisted) conditions. The problem is the compromises one must make in politics that whittle otherwise well intentioned legislation down to hollowed out cores of absurdity. This bill is a prime example of the fallacy that compromises are de facto evidence of a principled balancing of interests. If you believe all illegal aliens should be shot and I believe none should, then it is hardly a principled balancing of interests to say we shall only shoot half of them. Likewise if I believe that any substance that can relieve pain and suffering should be obtainable without artificial barriers but you believe that the risk of even one person getting “high” outweighs the pain and suffering of millions, then it is a meaningless compromise indeed to say patients can legally possess those substances but that actions aimed at possession are illegal. Empty, hollow rhetoric – nothing more.

Mix one part irrational fear with one part representative democracy and you get a society with needless pain and suffering. None should ever be allowed to suffer because of fears of what might be, lest we become prisoners entombed behind the bars of potential acts.

DST: Daylight Savings Tax

When told the reason for daylight saving time, the Old Indian said, “Only the Government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”

Daylight Savings Time is that peculiar tradition whereby we get up an hour early but pretend we didn’t. A bit like pretending we lost 10 lbs because we turned the zero point on the scale to -10 lbs. The real mystery though is why DST is a government-mandated program. Since there is no obvious crony that benefits from it, it must fall into that broader category of laws known as the Nanny Statutes, that is, laws enacted by those who simply enjoy telling the rest of us how to live our lives.

The putative goal of DST, to give us more daylight in the evening hours, is preposterous on its face. It is daylight tax and spend hocus-pocus that tricks us into thinking the day is longer because we “see” the extra evening hour but don’t see the morning hour of daylight we lost. Of course this begs the question: why are we trying to add hours to a day that is already getting longer? It’s a bit greedy if you think about it. As the days get longer on both ends in the summer, there are those that want to redistribute daylight from the morning to the evening. This is great for night owls, but what of the early birds (like some of us crazy runners that run at 5:30 am)? We’ve had our early hour of daylight stolen away!

The current “green” appeal to DST is that it will save energy. But even a cursory analysis reveals that the tradeoff between fewer light bulbs burning vs longer hours of air conditioning operation will result in a net increase in energy usage. And then there are the safety issues. All things being equal, it is always less safe to drive in the dark. All things being equal, a child standing at a bus stop in the dark is more likely to be accidentally struck. Additionally, there is no accounting for the expenditure of countless collective hours fitfully engaged in the semi-annual secret-handshake of the clock reset.

Given the mutually exclusive (“I want more evening light!”, “Well I want more morning light!”) there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will satisfy everyone. In this case there is no right or wrong answer. But with the current government mandate of DST, all are forced to endure the top-down one-size-fits-all solution. DST is essentially a solution in search of a problem. The solution to that solution though is to remove government mandate from the equation. Allow the people and businesses to determine for themselves what works best. Leave the darn clocks alone and shift your own schedule around if needed. If a business benefits by having their doors open only during daylight, then they can shift their hours anytime during the year to best serve their customers. Think this could never work? That it would be total chaos? Well, dear reader, once upon a time in this country people found solutions to problems on their own. The most apropos example here is that of time zones. It was private business (the railroads) that established the time zone system we use today. They did not mandate it by decree; they simply set it up for themselves to simplify the nightmare of hundreds of different city based time regions. Soon enough it became easier to simply refer to “railroad time” and in short order the people collectively and freely chose to follow a system that benefited them. It wasn’t until nearly 40 years later that government redundantly lumbered onto the scene and memorialized into statute what was already common practice. Of course this begs the question: if it worked for 40 years before becoming law, what exactly did making it a law achieve?

Where’s the beef? Sorry, it’s been banned.

This past week the FDA proposed an outright ban on artificial trans fats in prepared foods.  Trans fats occur naturally and artificial ones have been used for decades in foods. As a foodstuff they are safe insofar as they don’t make you sick upon ingestion and have known physiological benefits in proper amounts (and known harms if consumed to excess, which is the case with all food components). The FDA is not banning some new dangerous unknown substance. They are banning something that has, in large part, already been voluntarily reduced in the past few years to the point that average US consumption of trans fats is now half of what the American Heart Association recommends as being safe. So if it’s already hardly used, where’s the harm in a ban you might say? Setting aside the ethics of the ban, the direct type of harm that can be envisioned would be a situation wherein the use of trans fat solves a problem for which there is no good substitute. Furthermore any substitutes might very well themselves be more harmful than the trans fat. That’s called “unintended consequences” and occurs with every single government mandate ever issued.

Some examples where trans fats are used include cake frosting, microwave popcorn, frozen pizzas and various fried foods. These are mere treats, things eaten a handful of times in a month if even that (how many cakes have you eaten in the last month?). But given the government’s penchant for quixotic battles against virtually riskless activities (trillions of dollars spent fighting terrorism even though jaywalking kills more people each year than terrorism) it should come as no surprise that Uncle Sam would relish the role of micromanaging the minutiae of our lives (“exactly how many calories are in the candy bar sir?”).

Lifelong dependency of the citizen ensures eternal power for the state.


There is nothing wrong with the FDA educating the public about the healthiness or lack thereof of certain kinds of foods (although forcing the public to pay for such education through taxation rests on ethically dubious ground). However, the outright banning of this or that substance crosses a line. The metric upon which prohibitions have been based (such as drug prohibition, however ill conceived) is one of “imminent harm”, i.e. if someone is about to jump off a bridge we can plainly see their free will is immediately deleterious to their own well being therefore one could argue intervention is justified. However, the bar has been moved from “imminent” to “eventually possible” i.e. should we tear the bridge down so as to make it impossible for anyone to ever jump off it? Should we now ban every conceivably risky activity?  If so, that’s going to be a mighty long list! Nearly every action in our daily lives carriers some level of inherent risk.

The FDA’s justification for this ban is a mere estimate (i.e. best guess) that it will result in 20,000 fewer heart attacks and 7,000 fewer deaths each year. The rationale is of course the “Greater Good” argument. This ban will naturally lead to lower health care costs for the nation. Why stop there? Perhaps the FDA could implement other policies that have the net effect of lowering health care costs. Perhaps they could ban foods that naturally contain trans or saturated fats (all meat, cheese and dairy). Next they could ban all foods that are not considered to be “healthy” (according to the whim of whoever happens to be in power at the FDA). These directives would surely save more lives, so how can one object? Eventually the government could require all citizens join a gym and exercise each day… because this would lead to fewer deaths each year… so how can one object? Oh, and what of those that refuse to do their quota of exercise? Well, we’ll just levy a fine, err, I mean tax on those that refuse the directive of the collective.

This trans fat ban is just the first step in sacrificing the individual on the altar of the collective state. If you agree to take what the collective offers (free or subsidized health insurance), then you must submit to having your life directed by that same collective. Children accept the care of their parents and thus are obligated to follow their rules. Likewise government demands we follow their rules because they view us as but children. Lifelong dependency of the citizen ensures eternal power for the state.

The War on Droopy Drawers

It has been recently reported (here and here that the Madison City Council is exploring a new ordinance that would criminalize uncouth couture, that is, droopy drawers. The objective of said ordinance is “…. to get … appearance to be decent” (Councilman Fred Perriman). This statement of course presumes (a) decency can be objectively defined and (b) it is the proper role of government to impose arbitrary cultural notions of “decency.” Traditionally “decency” has been directly correlated with the amount of skin covered as well as the degree of looseness of said coverings. So using this metric it would seem women wearing a hijab (traditional Muslim head and body covering) are perhaps the most “decent” people around. I’m not suggesting the Council plans on imposing mandatory hijabs, however I am curious as to what underlying objective principle affords one the ability to demarcate a point between “hijabs for all” and “down with droopy drawers” wherein “decent” lies on one side and “indecent” on the other? Other than simply the subjective “I don’t like the way that looks” of course.

If we are not free to look like complete idiots, then are we truly free?

Now don’t get me wrong, I personally think saggy pants look incredibly goofy and frankly can’t figure out how they can walk around like that without tripping over themselves. But just because someone finds something to be idiotic is no justification to take advantage of the monopoly of the exclusive use of legal violence (or threat of violence) that government currently possesses in order impose his or her personal preferences on society.

Does this mean we are helpless to object to things we find offensive or undesirable? No. Private property owners are (or should be) free to impose whatever strictures they desire to anyone on their property (for example restaurants commonly have minimum dress code standards, as well as the familiar “no shirts, no shoes, no service” policy). Schools and businesses commonly have dress codes. Subdivisions as a collection of private dwellings have the right to impose any such standards as they see fit for those that enter the private domain of that subdivision (it should be noted it is not uncommon to require unanimity to make changes to homeowners association covenants, thus even in the private realm we recognize it is unfair for a majority to impose their will on a minority). In short, people are free to associate with whomever they wish and to set up rules governing those associations.

So, one might now ask, “What’s wrong with government imposing these nanny-state type rules? Isn’t this no different than a private subdivision setting up similar rules?” Actually, no, it is quite different. Firstly, these ordinances typically override private rules (i.e. if a restaurant permitted saggy pants, the ordinance would still fine the person). Secondly, even if the ordinance only pertains to the public sphere (non-private property) it is still invalid insofar as the “ownership” of such public spaces by the government is illegitimate. All public property was either confiscated directly or purchased with confiscated funds (taxes). So if “public” spaces have no legitimate owner then no one can legitimately make rules to govern such spaces without also admitting that a thief may legitimately control the use of property he has stolen.

This does not imply that all laws are invalid if they occur on “public” spaces. Laws that pertain to the protection of the natural (negative) rights (e.g. life, liberty, pursuit of happiness) cannot logically be constrained by location or time frame. “Nanny-state” laws are time and location dependent (i.e. such and such act is ok before some date and in some location but then after that date or in that location it is then magically illegal), that is, they are completely arbitrary in nature.

If we are not free to look like complete idiots, then are we truly free?

What law would Jesus pass? None.

Although Georgia has a long history of having one foot in the dark ages when it comes to certain “blue laws” such as the ban on Sunday alcohol sales, it was encouraging that last year Governor Nathan Deal signed into law legislation that would allow local communities to vote on the matter. It is also heartening to see that our local governments are permitting us the opportunity to vote on this matter (as the new legislation did not require such a vote). We should be grateful the governing bodies of the state of Georgia have deigned to permit us the opportunity to have our say on this bizarrely anachronistic ban.


Blue Laws are not in conformity with Jesus’ message


Although proponents of blue laws (laws that ban a range of activities from occurring on Sunday: alcohol sales, automobile sales, shopping, working, etc) often claim there is no religious basis to these laws, history suggests otherwise. The overriding goal of these laws is clearly to restrict activity on one day of the week and oddly that day is always Sunday, the traditional day of worship for Christians. These laws have included both the mandatory closure of all business and in some locales the prohibition of personal work or “non-spiritual” behavior (e.g. arrests for fixing wagon wheels or playing cards are known). Over time the total ban on Sunday commerce inconvenienced even those that had passed such laws. So rather than wholesale repeal they chipped away at these laws, making exceptions for some goods (the ones they wanted on Sunday) but keeping bans on others. And so we end up with a bizarre hodgepodge of restricted goods. For example in Texas up until 1985 laws banned the sale of house wares such as pots and pans. Currently in several states the sale of automobiles and hunting is still banned on Sundays.

Given that there is a clear Christian motivation behind these laws I am perplexed by the rationale employed. I’m not alone. Jesus had no qualms about violating those Old Testament commands that are putatively upheld by blue laws. He is derided by the synagogue leaders for “working” on the Sabbath (Luke 13:13-15). Furthermore the aversion that some Christians have for alcohol is quite odd given that Jesus himself turned water into wine on more than one occasion (John 2:1-10, 4:46).

The motivation behind these laws can be summarized as a general knee jerk reaction of “we must keep things ‘holy’ on Sunday.” However that is not only misguided but is also actually not in conformity with Jesus’ message. Jesus led by example, by words and deeds. Had he desired to forcefully apply God’s laws to the world he would have done the very thing the Jews had expected their Messiah to do: establish himself as a king and militarily conquer the world thus ensuring that his ideals as king were spread throughout the world by the force of royal decree. His inaction in this regard speaks volumes. It says we must willingly follow Him and if we do not it must be our choice. As in the story of the rich man who could not give up his possessions to follow Jesus (Mathew 19:21), Jesus told the man what he must do and allowed him to choose. He did not command him or threaten him with punishment if he did not follow him. In the same way it is extraordinarily un-Christ-like to pass laws that attempt to mold or coerce the behavior of others in a way that you believe to be in line with Jesus’ message. Following the logic of the blue laws it would be acceptable to lock everyone in prison for their whole life as that would 100% prevent any possibility of sin.

There is no virtue in not sinning if it is impossible to sin. You can’t make someone believe as you believe by coercion. Lead by example.


The War on…Happy Meals?

The city of San Francisco enacted a law that went into effect on November 30, 2011. It bans any chain restaurant (i.e McDonalds) from providing a toy with a meal that the overlords of that city decree does not meet an arbitrary nutrition standard. Clearly McDonalds is attempting to ensnare unsuspecting children with toys that are as irresistible as the One Ring was to Gollum. Parents’ and children’s brains are completely incapacitated by these toys and they are unable to exercise any free will and thus have no choice but to purchase a Happy Meal. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. I’m not even going to delve into the most obvious discussion here, i.e. that this is a prime example of nanny-statism at its worst, that government can interfere in transactions between a willing buyer and a willing seller because condescending politicians believe it is morally acceptable to substitute their preferences for that of the citizens.


Clearly McDonalds is attempting to ensnare unsuspecting children with toys that are as irresistible as the One Ring was to Gollum.


Although McDonalds has skirted the ban by charging 10¢ for the toy the underlying issue here has been overlooked in the media. They weren’t trying to stop McDonalds from providing a toy. They set standards for fat and sugar content, which if met, would permit a toy. So the authors of the law, like the unsuspecting chess player who overlooks his own vulnerability while attacking, thought it would force McDonalds to change the content of the meal. They failed. The toy remains a meal incentive to not only the children but also the parents as well, who are now guilt tripped into buying the meal since the toy money goes to charity. Touché McDonalds!

Obviously the instigators of this law don’t have children, because as any parent will tell you, children will not eat what they don’t like. Period. No kid is going to eat a happy meal populated with apple slices, carrots and yogurt no matter how many toys it comes with. If the promoters of this law got their way, here’s what would happen: the child takes the toy, nibbles on one thing and then throw the rest of the meal out. This outcome mirrors the primary problem with the school lunch program. Let me explain. If school lunches meet federal nutrition guidelines then the meal is partially paid for (subsidized) by the government. So a $5 meal becomes a $2 meal. Great. The only problem is that kids throw away the stuff they don’t like. So what could stop them from throwing out food? Simple, just let the kids pick what they want. Problem is, if they do that then the meal no longer meets federal guidelines, so it can’t be subsidized. Now the meal is $5 with LESS food. It’s cheaper to buy the whole thing, eat what you want and throw away the rest then to just buy and eat what you want. But like a stubborn 3 year old, government stamps its foot down and insists we continue on the same failed course because it is “best”. When will they ever learn that you can’t alter human behavior by mandate?

Government should not subsidize meals for those that can afford it. The program has slowly morphed from alleviating starvation among poor students, to subsidized food for all students, to nutrition nannies that incentivize wasting food. The argument that we must subsidize all meals is that if we didn’t then poor students might be ridiculed by their peers (the same logic was also used to force TARP money onto banks that didn’t need it). So in order to protect against possible hurt feelings we as a country subsidize all meals to the tune of $16 billion/year. The least we can do is alter the program so as not to incentivize discarding thousands of tons of food every day across this country. Provide healthy options and let the kids pick what they want. To continue doing otherwise is blowing against the wind.


Pet Peeve Regulations

It was recently reported  that the Morgan County BOC  is seeking to enact an ordinance that would regulate garage sales. This proposed ordinance is absurd. The reasons for it are so ludicrous I thought perhaps the article was a satire. It was reported that a mere 12 complaints (0.06% of the county population) a year about garage sale signs in part prompted this proposal. The next issue was that “unregulated outdoor sales annoy citizens.” So, I suppose regulated outdoor sales would not annoy them? The bar is awfully low if mere annoyance is sufficient to prompt regulation. Another cited issue is “traffic congestion.” The most “traffic congestion” I’ve ever seen is through downtown Madison around 5 pm… where it might take an extra 2-3 minutes to get through town. Even this “congestion” is not worthy of regulation.  The final reason is an embodiment of ambiguity:  “disrupt the local residential environment.” A statement so broad that it can apply to virtually any “annoyance” is the regulator’s best friend.

So, I suppose regulated outdoor sales would not annoy them?
In order to qualify for the “privilege-that-used-to-be-a-right” of having a garage sale one would seek permission of a bureaucrat who could arbitrarily deny a request based on the most nebulous of reasons – i.e. “would not be in the interest of the public health, safety and welfare.”  Since that phrase can be interpreted to apply to any denial then decisions are based merely on subjective whims. Furthermore the ordinance would micromanage the sale itself, as it would “deal with how items can be displayed and the sizes and number of signs”. So, is the cash strapped county now going to pay people to go out and inspect garage sales to ensure they are in compliance? We certainly wouldn’t want items displayed incorrectly!


What’s next? Will the county require sellers to warranty goods for a certain period of time? Would they regulate the maximum price of an item? If this ordinance is enacted then it will become that much easier to justify new regulations by using this regulation as a precedent. Perhaps birthday parties should be regulated as well? Perhaps any kind of gathering at one’s residence should be regulated? Nearly all the issues cited in support of this ordinance also apply to such gatherings, why not regulate them too? This is a classic slippery slope. The goal of regulations should be the protection, not violation, of natural rights. This regulation violates the property rights of the seller by limiting their ability to sell their own property. If a seller does happen to violate the rights of others in their sale then they should likewise be cited under EXISTING laws. There is no need for a new patchwork of “pet peeve” regulations.

Nanny State Strikes Back

Recently the U.S. Justice Department announced it was blocking anyone in the U.S. from accessing online poker sites as well as accusing 11 people of bank fraud and illegally operating gambling websites. This story is disturbing on several levels. Firstly, upon what Constitutional basis does any government have the power to declare certain behaviors that harm no one to be “illegal”? It’s apparently not “illegal” when governments do it (lottery). This is not only an unconstitutional action but a hypocritical one as well.

Some might argue it is justified because gambling has a potential to harm the gambler. True enough, but, the gambler is aware of the risks; there is no deception or fraud. Some might then argue that gambling could harm the gamblers family. Yes, that’s possible. But there are lots of things people can spend too much money on thus potentially harming their family… should all those goods be made illegal? Or perhaps we should submit to government approval before we make a purchase to be sure it is appropriate for our level of income so that it won’t harm our family? The inherent danger of trying to regulate the behavior of others is that we may soon find our own behavior regulated. The Libertarian philosophy runs counter to the notion that government knows how to run our lives better than we do. One of the fundamental planks in the party platform states:

 “Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.”

Secondly, on what grounds does the government restrict the right of a U.S. citizen from accessing any website (that does not depict real physical violence)? Shall they start censoring our access to books they disapprove of? These events illustrate that Internet freedom is an illusion. Government can take these freedoms only because we permit it. Freedom of speech extends not only to the person making the speech but also to the person consuming it. To praise the ideals of free speech in one breath and then make consumption of it illegal in the next breath makes a mockery of free speech.

Lastly, the charges of “bank fraud” sound ominous but are misleading. The supposed fraud is a “letter of the law technically legal” interpretation of a 2006 federal law that forbids financial institutions from processing transactions related to online gambling. Apparently there was weak support for outlawing online gambling, so instead they outlawed activities associated with it (money transfers) rather than the activity itself. A deceptive and cowardly action intended to bypass the will of the people in favor of the will of the brick & mortar casinos.

This attack on free individuals (producers and consumers) causing no harm is a prime example of the “Nanny State” in action: intruding into the personal choices of its citizens, because after all, the nanny knows best, right?