The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought. – Emma Goldman
Having already been raised by parents, I am increasingly resentful of a government that continues to substitute its judgment for my own, justifies its temerity in doing so by deigning to tell me it is for my own good, and then charging me exorbitantly for it. And it happens at all levels of government, from the overreaching leviathan in the District of Columbia, to the irresponsible spendthrifts in Olympia, to the bold petty tyrants here in my own county.
What’s that? I’m being ridiculous? I don’t think so. Let’s start with this example from the Tacoma News Tribune:
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department this morning released a press statement saying that El Gaucho Tacoma has agreed to a permanent injunction that bans smoking in its facility.
Agreed to? More like got tired spending the money to try to be able to enforce their property rights.
“We see this as an important step for the health of Washington State residents, most of whom don’t smoke, and who overwhelmingly voted to approve Washington’s Smoking in Public Places Act,” stated Anthony Chen, department director.
I see this as an abuse of power, of the kind that bureaucrats in county public health systems, and other local agencies and bureaus love to engage in…for our own good, of course.
Earlier this year the department sued to close the smoking lounge, which had recently opened after renovations that owner Paul Mackay said he believed satisfied restrictions in the state’s 2005 non-smoking law.
A smoking lounge. Not a lounge where they simply permitted smoking. A lounge designed specifically for smoking. [While this squib doesn't have all the details, the lounge was completely separate from the rest of the restaurant, had state-of-the-art ventilation systems, and even a separate entrance.] This wasn’t about a restaurant that some whiney non-smokers could not frequent because of owners who couldn’t manage to offer a non-smoking alternative, because the restaurant is non-smoking, and as I said, separate from the smoking lounge.
“When the owners failed to comply with several requests, and a letter of compliance from the Health Department, they were served with an injunction to stop allowing smoking in the lounge. On April 23, 2010 a Pierce County Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction against El Gaucho Tacoma and the VIP Lounge,” the department said.
To translate from the power-grubbing bureaucratese “This uppity property owner had the nerve to try to allow patrons to engage in a legal activity in a way that would not disturb those who frequented his establishment, but did not smoke, but he didn’t come, hat in hand, to ask our permission first, and that had to be dealt with.”
I would have liked to see Mackay do an end run and open a private club in the location occupied by the smoking lounge…the kind where anyone can be issued a membership card at the door for a nominal fee. A private club is not a public place, and therefore the county health department nannycrats can get bent. But knowing how one little birdie can make a phone call to another little birdie, and the next thing you know, converting the liquor license from a restaurant to a private club can end up being fraught with all sorts of …difficulties, especially with things like the approvals from the local authorities. I imagine that this was the better business decision for Mr. Mackay.
As for the over-reaching in Olympia, I have the following agenda items in Governor Gregoire’s State of the State address from this past January:
“For all of us who are called to public service, now is the time for leadership. Now is the most important time to serve,” Gregoire said. “For as difficult and challenging as the decisions that lie ahead of us will be, now is the time to be decisive, and now is the time for compassion. It’s the time to make a real difference for people. It’s the time to truly shape the future of Washington state.”
*High-quality health care: Gregoire asked the Legislature to consider restoring funding for the state’s Basic Health Plan, hospice services and maternity care for at-risk mothers.
“The December budget I presented was balanced, and it certainly sets new, and admittedly untenable, policy directions,” Gregoire said. “But the balanced budget also would force us to abandon the values that define this state — fairness and compassion. It would be unjust, unwise and unfair to abandon our friends and neighbors when they need us most.”
Now, leadership is not continuing to fund entitlements when you are having trouble doing the things that you’re actually supposed to be doing. Since this speech, our budget hole in this state has increased more than $5 Billion. The response was to issue a whole lot of new taxes in a down economy, so Nanny Government could continue to make decisions for and offer entitlements to its dependents, rather than focusing on the things that really are its job: law enforcement, funding schools, fixing the roads, and other basic government functions. And when she starts whining about not meeting “basic Washington values” because I’m not reducing the quality of health care I provide for my family because they aren’t compelling me to pay for it for someone else, it takes all that I have not to start shouting “THERE IS NO FAIRNESS IN TAKING WHAT I WORK FOR IN ORDER TO PROVIDE FOR MYSELF AND MY FAMILY SO YOU CAN GIVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE! MAKING PEOPLE DEPENDENT UPON GOVERNMENT IS NOT “COMPASSIONATE”! QUIT CONFUSING YOUR ABILITY TO BUY VOTES WITH MY MONEY WITH BEING “COMPASSIONATE’!!!”
When some of the new taxes the legislature tried to impose to continue being generous with my earnings ended up on the initiative ballots in November, and going down in flames, it was like Christmas came early. The problem is, the politicians in this state continually have a problem understanding that when the voters say “No!” to their taxes, we really mean it. Just ask anyone in Pierce, King, or Snohomish county about their thirty dollar license tabs for their car. My last one only cost me $120, because I get to “give” generously to subsidize public transit that no one rides. However, I am very pleased that there are bus drivers who make in excess of $100,000.00 a year when I have the equivalent of a masters and a doctorate in a real discipline, and make less. To borrow a line from our Dear President, these employees of ours should be thanking me. Especially when they can expect raises this year, even though I haven’t seen one in a few years now. It is rumored that the governor will recall the legislature to a special session, which, if it like the prior special sessions, means that the Democrats will leave Republicans out of the meetings, decide that they cannot possibly make any cuts to entitlements, and instead, will pass legislation that will raise taxes instead. I think you can probably make book on it.
And then there is the Federal Government’s assumption of authority it does not have, by which it substitutes its judgment for your own. Case in point? FCC Commissioner Michael Copps:
“I think American media has a bad case of substance abuse right now. We are not producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue. We aren’t producing as much news as we did 5 years, 10 years, 15 years ago. We have to reverse that trend or I think we are going to be pretty close to be denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country.”
Not to press a point too finely, but who the Hell appointed him to judge the quality of the news being reported? No, really. Last I looked, the federal government didn’t have a “Ministry of Information” to decide what is, and what is not news, or even good reporting. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s our job, and I don’t recall any ceremonies where the American people formally surrendered this right to some stinkfaced bureaucrat who doesn’t like what he hears on CNN or FOX. In fact, since the retirement of the so-called Fairness Doctrine back when we still had more than a handful of sensible people in the government, I thought that the whole point was to let the people decide with their viewership, their listening, and what news outlets they chose to spend their money on. That is why the Old Grey Lady is in the tank; once people had a chance to decide for themselves, the outlets that only told the stories they wanted you to read/hear/see, and in the manner that they wanted you to ingest simply could no longer compete. The approved lies, mischaracterizations, and spin were no longer palatable. And yet this kaikocracy is intent on squelching any message it doesn’t approve of. That is why The Chicago Messiah™ and his flunkies, toadies, and watercarriers are constantly contributing to the ambient noise level with their insistence that FOX is “bad for the republic”.
“Nowadays, when stations are so often owned by mega companies and absentee owners hundreds or even thousands of miles away — frequently by private equity firms totally unschooled in public interest media — we no longer ask licensees to take the public pulse. Diversity of programming suffers, minorities are ignored, and local self-expression becomes the exception.”
Diversity? The opinion of a few numb-skulled Supreme Court Justices aside, the federal government, or any government for that matter, has absolutely no interest, compelling or otherwise, in diversity. Diversity did not enrich the lives of the people of the Balkans. It did not make their lives better. It did not provide a rich society, and preserve basic human dignities and rights of its citizens. Instead, it brought strife, war, death, misery, and chaos.
“Diversity” as it is currently embraced by too many in government, is destructive to society. It substitutes identity for merit. It purposely divides, and keeps divided the people of a nation. It doesn’t reward and encourage exceptionalism for its own sake (and the blessings to society as a whole that come from such a strategy). It discourages a national identity, character, and vision, and fosters tribalism and territorial battles in culture, the allocation of resources, and in the defining of goals. Its final end will be devolution in to discord and violence, rather than achievement and excellence.
Last I looked, local self-expression wasn’t really an issue. Public television has local outlets, many of which carry locally produced and broadcast programs. Radio stations report local news, and many carry locally produced programs. Cable television has public access shows. And the internet makes anyone with something to say and the ability to find any of several free blog hosts, a one-person publisher.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Increasingly, we are met in all walks of life by government in all its varied forms that refuses to remain within the strict confines we have set forth for it. Its appetite for control is rapacious, and unquenchable. We yield every day, in venues where the government simply has no business being in our business. Mandates to ban incandescent lightbulbs. Telling business owners that they cannot cater exclusively to smoking patrons. Refusing to stop buying votes from its dependents with our money, and ignoring us when we tell them that they cannot have more of what we earn. Forcing societal schemes upon us that will not, and by their very nature, cannot benefit society. Fiats that turn social values on their heads by unelected jurists and bureaucrats, when the people have very clearly refused such measures sought to be undertaken by elected officials, and the craven collaboration between the cowardly elected officials and the unelected functionaries who in the absence of any mechanism of accountability to “We the People”, eagerly dictate to us that which we have already refused…for our own good, of course.
What I’d like to know is if I, at age 39, 21 years free of the authority of my parents, and having earned a high school diploma, a B.A., a J.D., and an LL.M., and having been a parent myself for over 11 years still haven’t earned the right, and am not smart enough to make my own decisions, what makes those busybody bureaucrats, many of them the same age or younger, and some less educated, empowered and intelligent enough to make them for me?
It’s time to push back. Hard.