Archive for the ‘The Nanny State’ Category

Thursday Linkorama

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Non-political links:

  • Awesome. The navy shoots down on a drone with a laser.
  • OK, semi-political. I wish I’d had this woman as my philosophy professor when we were looking at feminist philosophy.
  • Political links:

  • Crime in Arizona, like the rest of the country, is way down … except in the district patrolled by America’s toughest sheriff. Funny that.
  • I’m forced to agree with a lot of what’s in this video. I wish our leaders would stop trying to pretend that solving global warming is an economic miracle waiting to happen. Not when things like public transportation are such boondoggles. When I hear pie in the sky talk about AGW, it indicates someone who isn’t taking the issue seriously, just using it as an excuse to prop up special interests. And, like the video, I wish global warming weren’t happening. But I can’t convince myself it’s a myth.
  • Ron Bailey links up the worst environmental disasters. You could add Chernobyl and Bhopal to the list if you wanted to get historical.
  • It is absolutely unsurprising that the NHTSA investigation essentially cleared Toyota of most wrongdoing. This is simply a repeat of the sudden acceleration incidents that happened twenty years ago. Ted Frank wades into the comments on the Toyota lawsuits. Worth reading as he is an excellent debater.
  • In the end, the Nanny Staters will press for this, taking kids out of homes that make them fat. Never mind that weight is a difficult issue to pin down (I linked last week to a school bashing the parents of a gymnast because her Bullshit Mass Index was high). Is the biggest problem we need to solve in parenting people feeding their kids too much?
  • Sunday Night All Politics Linkorama

    Sunday, July 18th, 2010
  • Dear Mr. Williams. Just go the fuck away. Although I’ll note in passing that the supposedly racist Tea Partiers gave him the boot.
  • You too, mosque protesters.
  • Obama supports tax cuts … for trial lawyers.
  • Here’s the thing. You can provide “free” birth control if you want. I know it’s going to cost quite a bit. But I’m unconvinced it will prevent unwanted pregnancies. It’s not primarily a lack of access that causes them; free condoms are available just about everywhere. It’s a lack of responsibility. And providing birth control for free could even make things worse because people get more reckless when they get free stuff. What are we going to say when thousands of women get their “free” birth control, think they’re bulletproof, don’t use it right and get pregnant? To think we can prevent three million pregnancies by handing out pills at street corners is to indulge in the rankest sort of magical thinking about government.
  • Jesus Christ, are the schools trying to make girls anorexic?
  • Here is how states go off the fiscal rails.
  • Once again … do politicians not know about this internet thing where we can look up what they said just, like, a year ago.
  • Soda Tax

    Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

    Soda is the latest enemy of the food grabbers. Having been so successful in first forcing us to use trans fats, then forcing us to abandon them; having had their triumph of adding calorie counts to menus and seeing calorie consumption go up; having pushed non-fat foods that load us up with carbs; they are building on the spectacular record of utter complete failure by going to war with soda. If it were not for the vile bubbly, we would all look like Victoria’s Secret models, or something. San Francisco has banned it from public buildings; NYC’s Nanny State mayor is attacking it and everyone wants to tax it.

    This is typical of those who love government. Every failure is met not with a reconsideration of their view but with a call for more action. They utterly refuse to believe that government is incapable of making people live good lives.

    (And it’s also typical of tax policy. Politicians always want more revenue. An easy way to get it is to tax whatever is unpopular at the moment. Cigarettes were a good target for a while, but they’re maxed out.)

    Jonah Lehrer does a good job with the case for, citing a DOA study that claims a soda tax would reduce calorie consumption by 20-40 calories a day. But even his post is being selectively quoted by supporters. He notes that people may make up the calories in other places. He further notes that diet sodas have a tendency to increase calorie consumption.

    The scientists argue that fake sugar is dangerous because it subverts a crucial homeostatic mechanism, as the the brain uses the sweetness of a food to keep track of its intake. More sugar implies more calories; the tongue is a natural energy detector. The problem with diet sodas is that they make this system unreliable, so that the presence of of intense sweetness no longer means anything. (And it’s not just rodents: a similar effect has been observed in humans.) The hypothalamus gets confused. The end result is that we lose touch with the energetic needs of our body. Instead of eating to sate a hunger, we just eat. And eat.

    Lehrer says this make the case for a complete ban, but I’m not convinced.

    Making the case against is Cato. They note five problems with the soda ban:

    1) The scientific evidence that soda is making us fat is tenuous at best.

    2) Taxes would have to be pretty extreme to measurably cut soda consumption.

    3) Past experience is that poor people tend to make up the calories elsewhere and eat even less healthily. In short, the side effect of a soda ban might be doritos at dinner in place of peas.

    4) A soda tax is massively regressive. This is true of all “sin” taxes. In another post, they note that rich guy indulgences — Starbucks, for example — are actually worse than soda. So there’s a certain amount of snobbery here in depriving the masses of their opiate while letting the elites keep theirs.

    5) It threatens individual choice.

    I’m not opposed to sin taxes on alcohol or cigarettes since the link between those and bad health is conclusive. However, obesity is such a complex issue with such nebulous cause, I’m reluctant to have the all-wise all-knowing government jump in and decree what people can and can not consume. As I say all the time — they do not have the track record to earn the benefit of a doubt here.

    So should government do nothing? Actually, I somewhat agree with Sullivans’ readers. The best thing the government could do is lift trade restrictions on sugar and stop corn subsidies. The heavy use of HFCS in our diet may not be having an effect on us (studies are inconclusive). But a market distortion that large has to have some negative consequences, no?

    Friday Linkorama

    Saturday, June 26th, 2010

    Non-political links first:

  • This is absurd. Law schools are deliberately inflating grades to make their students more competitive. Where does it stop? What happens when every student is Maxima Cum Laude with a 5.0 GPA?
  • They are still digging bodies out of the WTC.
  • Awesome and inspiring story.
  • Political links:

  • I’m not surprised that the author of “Party of Parasites” collects farm subsidies.
  • I never thought I’d call Thomas Sowell a hack, but … well. It’s so depressing to watch so many conservative icons go off the deep end. And for all the Republicans going into hysterics about Obama being a dictator, here is Foreign Policy, to remind us of what a dictator is really like.
  • The tiny DC Vouchers program was a success. So naturally, one of the first things Obama did was kill it. The prose here does not quite capture how much this angers me.
  • It’s amazing how silent all the global warming bad skeptics are on the latest temperature measures.
  • Oh, or Christ’s sake. The Food Grabbers are after happy meals now, bouyed by their imposition of calorie counts on menus — an innovation that … um … increased caloric intake actually. I’m sure that toys draw kids to buy McDonald’s. However, I think it’s very likely that it’s drawing them away from other fast food joints, not platters of asparagus. Where to go for fries is the kids’ choice; whether to go for fries it the parents’ choice.
  • Wednesday Linkorama

    Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
  • The State of Texas comes to its senses on candy.
  • Blogfight? The President’s Cancer Panel released a report on environmental chemical and cancer. Reason and the American Cancer Society point out that it’s panicky and inaccurate. Orac disputes. This is a rare occasion when I think Orac is wrong. As demonstrated by his criticism of the other MIchael Siegel for having the temerity to point out that the study on Scottish second-hand smoke was bullshit, he has a blind spot when it comes to cancer.
  • Here we go. Restrictions on food advertising. I’ve found a way to completely control the advertising my daughter sees. I don’t let her watch commercial TV.
  • Of all the things I worry about, debt has to the biggest. The West is on a spending orgy which is likely to finally break them the way Communism and Fascism couldn’t. Those trying to fix things — like Christie in New Jersey — are vilified. Those who make the mess worse — George W. Bush, for example — are praised. And the Democrats can’t even go three months without trashing PayGo.
  • Coolness. A way has been found (maybe) to battle a huge environmental catastrophe — coal mine fires.
  • Oops.
  • A big reason why I’m still keeping my distance from the GOP. If they elect Roy Moore to something, I’m outta here.
  • Midweek Linkorama

    Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
  • As expected, the “temporary” stimulus spending is becoming permanent as states become dependent on the Feds.
  • The Philly school spying case gets creepier.
  • George Washington — desperado.
  • Probably the most depressing thing about politics is how rapidly people’s attitudes change depending on who is in power. Here’s one example: people who used “regime” to describe the Bush Administration expressing alarm when that word is used for the Obama Administration. I hated the word both times; I can’t listen to Limbaugh because he uses it. But some consistency from anyone but libertarians would be nice.
  • A cosmic thought on free trade.
  • Just when you thought the GOP couldn’t get stupider; the Arizona wing sponsors a birther bill.
  • The food grabbers strike again. And again. And now the military is getting in on the act.
  • Tuesday Linkorama

    Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
  • Alabama. Doomed.
  • Yep. Sarah Palin was and is a disaster.
  • This is for the Dudette, assuming she still reads my blog.
  • Is the G-spot a myth? Not so fast. The study did cross me as rather anecdotal. One problem with our puritanical attitudes in this nation is that sex research is woefully underfunded. One of the most fundamental aspects of our existence — we literally wouldn’t be here without it — and we understand it only slightly better than our great-great-grandparents.
  • I have mentioned by love of time lapse video, haven’t I?
  • Interestingly, the research does not necessarily support the idea that salt is uniformly dangerous. Of course, a little science never stood in the way of America’s Favorite Tyrannical Mayor.
  • Godspeed. Both of you.
  • Rationality is awesome. You can do anything with triangles these days.
  • Weekend Linkorama

    Monday, November 9th, 2009
  • Ouch.
  • More adventures from Maricopa County.
  • Friersdorf has a great open letter. The problem with the GOP is not the RINOs. It’s the corrupt lying “real conservatives”.
  • A heartbreaking story.
  • I think it’s great that the federal government is protecting us from … brass?
  • All across the world, they comin’ to America. Hey, if they want to work and obey the law, welcome aboard.
  • You stay classy, WBC.
  • The Nanny Nanny

    Saturday, October 31st, 2009

    Why would any fool want to be a parent these days?

    Oh. Wait.

    No Oysters For You

    Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

    The heavy hand of the fed is trying to outlaw oysters for half the year because about a dozen people, mostly those who are immuno-compromised, could die from a bacteria. I’m sorry. When did our society get to the point where people are no longer allowed to take risks? I’ve eaten raw oysters and I knew that it could make me sick. I’ve eaten cooked oysters and know it can make me sick. Aren’t I allowed to make that decision any more? Apparently not.

    One potential fix for this might be oyster irradiation. But that’s another kettle of shellfish altogether.

    Petting America’s Kids

    Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

    ABC news has a hysterical story about the danger of doggy doors.

    Nanny State Watch

    Monday, May 11th, 2009

    Reason runs down the case of a British woman arrested for having noisy sex.

    Yes, you read that right.

    Fortunately, most British people only have sex about once a year, so the problem will be minimal.

    MADDened

    Saturday, April 25th, 2009

    Radley Balko lets fly at Obama’s worst appointment idea — heading NHTSA with the head of MADD.

    Longtime automotive writer Eric Peters wrote recently in the Detroit Free Press that motorists have much to fear from a Hurley-led NHTSA, including a possible return to federally-mandated speed limits, a national blood alcohol count as low as .04, federally-mandated speed and red light cameras, and even the installation of GPS responders on vehicles for the possible implementation of future “pay as you go” driving taxes (Britain already keeps tabs on the whereabouts of every driver in the country).

    But Hurley’s record is most troubling when it comes to overly aggressive measures allegedly aimed at preventing drunken driving. MADD’s top priority during Hurley’s stint as CEO was to get state legislatures to pass laws mandating ignition interlock devices in the cars of all first-time DWI offenders. The device requires you to blow into a tube before starting your car, then blow again at set intervals as you’re driving (which, come to think of it, doesn’t really seem all that safe). Under Hurley’s watch, MADD gave a “qualified endorsement” for bills in the New York and New Mexico legislatures that would have required the devices in all cars sold in those states. Fortunately, neither bill became law.

    Hurley and MADD were also at the heart of the effort to force the states to adopt the .08 minimum blood alcohol standard back in the late 1990s, under penalty of losing federal highway funds for noncompliance. Studies show that both significant impairment and most DWI fatalities occur at much higher blood-alcohol concentrations.

    Hurley has also aggressively pushed for the use of constitutionally-dubious roadblock sobriety checkpoints to enforce the new standard, even though there’s convincing evidence these invasive tactics have actually made the roads more dangerous. DWI deaths began inching upward again as the roadblocks were implemented in the early 2000s. It isn’t difficult to see why. Roadblocks are designed to catch motorists who aren’t driving erratically enough to be caught with conventional law enforcement methods. The officers who staff them would otherwise be out on the streets, looking for actual drunks who pose an actual threat to highway safety.

    By far, MADD’s worst policy is that they endorse imprisoning parents who have supervised parties for their kids. MADD would apparently prefer that kids get drunk like kids in my generation did — in the middle of nowhere right before getting in a car.

    Tuesday Morning Linkorama

    Tuesday, August 5th, 2008
  • A beautiful fisking of the anti-Friedman letter at U Chicago.
  • What is the result of not paying college football players? Paying coaches.
  • The descendants of the Knights Templar are suing over a 700-year old massacre. Really.
  • Freddie Mac ignored warning signs in the mortgage industry. And we want to back them up with taxpayer dollars?
  • China. The perfect country for Hillary and all the other Nanny Staters.
  • This, among other things, is why I hate “energy policy”. When the government decides to pursue alternative energies, it does so for political, not scientific reasons. They now want to throw billions into “clean coal” because, apparently, burning hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars wasn’t good enough.
  • The failed legacy of Karl Rove. The GOP is collapsing.