Nanny State: April 2007

28 April 2007

School Choice is Constitutional

New Report Finds School Choice is Constitutional in Nearly Every State
First-Ever Nationwide Survey Dispels Myths From School Choice Opponents

Arlington, Va.—Is school choice constitutional? For the first time ever, legislators and advocates have a single authoritative and comprehensive resource for answering that question in every state in the union. And that report finds that for nearly every state, the answer is yes, if the legislation is crafted properly.

“School Choice and State Constitutions: A Guide to Designing School Choice Programs,” published today by the Institute for Justice and the American Legislative Exchange Council, documents the relevant state constitutional provisions and case law in each state and makes specific recommendations for designing programs most likely to withstand legal challenges from school choice opponents.

“A well-designed school choice program should pass constitutional muster nearly everywhere,” said Clark Neily, an IJ senior attorney who co-authored the report with IJ Senior Litigation Attorney Richard D. Komer. “Opponents have become increasingly creative in their use of state constitutions to try to thwart equal educational opportunity, but this report debunks their bogus constitutional claims.”

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Controlling Piercing Controls Self-Expression

While a war rages in Iraq, and thousands die of AIDS and starvation in underdeveloped countries, Americans are debating piercing. According to Leigh Carter of The East Carolinian, body piercing is an ancient practice; even Otzi the Iceman had an ear piercing. Furthermore, in the Bible, ear piercing and nose piercing are mentioned. In ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations, tongue piercing was evident among the affluent — though in their case it was a blood ritual.

Clearly, America's current fascination with piercing is nothing new. From a historical perspective, it is merely a continuation of practices already ingrained in our society. It is a form of self-expression, and a part of certain cultural identities. Women in India, for example, have been practicing nostril piercing for centuries. So if piercing is as common as history (ancient and current) suggests, why would lawmakers in New York consider banning certain piercing?

Supporters of the ban claim that it's meant to protect consumers. It's a simple fact that there are health risks involved in piercing. Complications such as infections are the most common, but obviously anything could go wrong. But the government cannot expect to baby consumers. Since most states have laws that require minors to have parental consent for piercing, any further legislation prohibiting certain types of piercing would be challenging an adult's ability to make a decision. Which means people eighteen years of age or older are capable of deciding who can lead America as President, but cannot be trusted to make an intelligent decision about decorating their bodies.

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The FCC's TV violence report: village idiocy

The FCC's long-awaited report on TV violence is finally out, and it's even worse than anybody expected. Not only did the report say the government can and should regulate violence on television, but in interviews explaining, the commissioners were quite clear that they aim to appoint themselves censors of cable TV as well as broadcast. "We can't just deal with the three or four broadcast channels -- we have to be looking at what's on cable as well,'' FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told the Associated Press.

...The FCC is saying it doesn't believe parents can be trusted to make decisions about what their kids should watch on TV, so the Nanny State will take over -- and its standards will be inflicted on all of us, children or not.

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25 April 2007

Security and Liberty

Freedom to Report Real News
Hawaii Reporter
By Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas, 4/23/2007 9:08:54 PM

The senseless and horrific killings last week on the campus of Virginia Tech University reinforced an uneasy feeling many Americans experienced after September 11th: namely, that government cannot protect us. No matter how many laws we pass, no matter how many police or federal agents we put on the streets, a determined individual or group still can cause great harm. Perhaps the only good that can come from these terrible killings is a reinforced understanding that we as individuals are responsible for our safety and the safety of our families.

Although Virginia does allow individuals to carry concealed weapons if they first obtain a permit, college campuses within the state are specifically exempted. Virginia Tech, like all Virginia colleges, is therefore a gun-free zone, at least for private individuals. And as we witnessed, it didn’t matter how many guns the police had. Only private individuals on the scene could have prevented or lessened this tragedy. Prohibiting guns on campus made the Virginia Tech students less safe, not more.

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24 April 2007

'Nanny laws' chip away at freedom

BY ADAM B. SUMMERS, Guest Columnist
LA Daily News

THERE is a domestic emergency, of sorts, in California these days. Unlike the popular television shows, however, the nanny is the problem, not the solution. No, California's problem is much worse than a misbehaving toddler; it is the overzealous politician (and those nosy neighbors who support them). Some might call these audacious au pairs petty tyrants, but they are tyrants nonetheless.

Having failed to resolve such serious problems of the day as the state's structural budget deficit, crumbling infrastructure, declining public education, and public-pension funding crises, impetuous politicians have taken it upon themselves to decide for us what kind of light bulbs we should buy, what kind of food we should eat, and even that ever-present grocery store conundrum: paper or plastic?

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21 April 2007

Nanny State Hypocrites

by Evan Coyne Maloney

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine suffered severe injury in a car accident last week, and I wish him the quickest, most pain-free recovery possible. I feel for the friends and relatives forced to watch him suffer through his treatments as the doctors try to repair the damage. A car accident of that magnitude is a horrific trauma for anyone to go through, much less someone who must do so while under the media’s microscope.

It’s a bit crass to use a human tragedy to make a political point. But I’ve noticed no commentators mentioning the Obvious Unsaid of this case. Corzine, who governs a state with a seatbelt law and a strictly-enforced speed limit, disobeyed both. Plenty of us violate traffic laws, so I’m not criticizing Corzine for that.

When we have laws that regulate every minor detail of our lives, we break them. That’s not shocking. But having such laws in the first place corrodes the authority of all laws by encouraging disrespect for the law in general. If we assume that most people break minor laws, can we assume they will always obey major laws? And if we have a legal system that encourages us to distinguish between the laws we’re allowed to break and those we’re not, doesn’t that leave a lot of room for untrustworthy people to interpret things in a way we’d rather they didn’t?

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18 April 2007

US moves to crack down on 'cocaine' drink

Washington - US health authorities are warning the makers of a caffeine-loaded beverage called Cocaine Energy Drink that the product is being marketed as a "drug" and could be seized.

The Food and Drug Administration said in a letter this month to Las Vegas-based Redux Beverages LLC that the marketing claims made for the energy drink make it subject to regulation as a drug under US law.


16 April 2007

Are we Live Free or Die, or the Nanny State?

By Dan Tuohy
April 15, 2007 6:00 AM

Stung by recent legislative losses, some Republicans are grousing about the Live Free Or Die state becoming the Nanny State. But when it comes to social compacts and public safety changes, both sides of the debates are invoking New Hampshire's notorious motto.

The controversies reflect a changing New Hampshire, at least politically, though the arguments being delivered with conviction and compassion are not necessarily Democratic nor Republican.

The latest outcry comes as the House of Representatives passed bills to require adults to wear seat belts, increase the minimum hourly wage, crack down on trans fat, and outlaw smoking in restaurants and bars.


Arizona bars online home price estimator


PHOENIX -- Arizona regulators have ordered a Seattle-based online home price estimator to stop doing business in the state.

The Arizona Board of Appraisal issued two cease-and-desist letters to the company that operates the popular real estate Web site Zillow, saying it needs an appraiser license to offer its "zestimates" in Arizona.

"It is the board's feeling that (Zillow) is providing an appraisal," Deborah Pearson, the board's executive director, said Friday.

Zillow warns users the estimates it provides are not a definitive value but a starting point for consumers. Launched in February, 2006, the company claims it has 4 million users a month, including people wanting to how much their homes - or their neighbors' homes - are worth.

The site has been criticized by real estate professionals and others concerned about its accuracy.


15 April 2007

Legislators should mind their own business

Make-work measures
Legislators should mind their own business

Most of the nanny-state measures churned out by legislators at the state and federal level are based on an insulting premise — that most Americans are mindless Bozos who can’t think for themselves or act in their own best interests. A nanny-statist, as we define the term, is someone who purports to care more for people than people care for themselves. And with statists firmly in charge at the Statehouse, there’s no shortage of such measures still in play, according to “Bills would provide business oversight,” a report in Monday’s Gazette.

“Oversight,” of course, means licensing, regulating and more barriers to entrepreneurship. And most of the trades or businesses in the crosshairs don’t need more of this, if we assume — as we do — that Coloradans are competent consumers. An argument might be made — might — for state licensing of naturopathic doctors, since they can have a direct impact on public health and safety. But most of the other trades on the regulator’s wish list — including sports trainers, landscape architects, plumbing contractors, interior designers, luxury limousine operators and moving company workers — are best regulated not by the state, which has better things to do with its resources and people, but by the market, which can sort the wheat from the chaff with ruthless efficiency, assuming consumers exercise a modicum of due diligence.


Love and marriage in Texas could go together like a carrot and stick

Polly Ross Hughes
Austin Bureau

AUSTIN — Debate over government's role in matters of love, marriage and divorce begins today when the Texas House considers a bill doubling marriage license fees to $60 unless couples take premarital classes.

Couples agreeing to eight-hour courses in conflict management and communication skills would get their marriage licenses free under the bill sponsored by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, a leading House conservative.

Chisum's bill, with its carrot-and-stick approach, is part of the Texas Conservative Coalition agenda to ease the demand for poverty programs by reducing divorce rates that can financially hurt split couples.

The package could create voluntary "covenant" marriage contracts with tougher conditions to discourage divorce and lengthen waiting periods for no-fault divorces unless couples undergo marriage crisis classes.

"It's in the state's interest for marriages to be saved," said John Colyandro, the coalition's executive director. "A lot of single parent households are in poverty. Once they're in poverty, that makes them eligible for a whole host of programs they might not otherwise be involved with."

But critics say the proposed measures — especially those lengthening waiting periods for divorces — amount to government intrusion into private lives.

While Republicans long have decried the "nanny state" of liberal social safety nets, some House Democrats now complain about the GOP meddling into highly personal decisions they say are best left to individuals.


08 April 2007

Baking soda: the latest target in the war on drugs

By: Holly Brantley

In the latest move to fight the war on drugs, A Missouri lawmaker wants to put of all things - baking soda - behind the counter. You've probably already heard of similar laws to fight meth, this proposal is modeled after those.

Right now a state law requires cold medicines with pseudoephedrine be placed behind the pharmacy counter. Pseudoephedrine is the key ingredient in meth amphetamines. To buy pseudoephedrine, you have to be 18 years old, show a photo id, and sign a log book. Now lawmakers want to put the same kind of restrictions on sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda.

Baking Soda is a staple in every home, we use it for recipes, cleaning, odors...but some people use it to make crack cocaine. So, lawmakers say putting it behind the counter would call attention to the drug problem.


Big brother in NH: Seat belt issue isn't safety

No offense to New Hampshire representatives who last week (narrowly) approved mandatory usage of seat belts by adults, but they just don't get it. We hope the state Senate and Gov. John Lynch do.

Contrary to expressions voiced in the debate, the issue here is not public health or safety.

Cornish Democrat Carla Skinder told colleagues, "You all may think you are good drivers. (But) It may be the person coming in the other direction who causes this life-changing event."

True enough, which is why everyone should opt to buckle up. It makes sense.

But it doesn't make sense for government to be intruding in matters of personal choice. Up until now, New Hampshire's citizen government has for the most part resisted those intrusions.


01 April 2007

NYT Clueless on Libertarianism

In Sunday’s New York Times, Times economics columnist David Leonhardt reviews Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement by Brian Doherty.

It might have made sense to get a libertarian, or someone familiar with the libertarian movement, or a political historian to write the review. Instead, the Times turned to someone who knows something about economics. Since the Times is the most important book review venue in the country, it’s worth taking a close look at Leonhardt’s complaints.

The first half of the review retells the story of Ayn Rand and the Objectivists, which is fine. It’s an interesting story, though it’s probably the part of the book most likely to be already familiar to Times readers. After the Randian opening, Leonhardt writes:

"The story of the American libertarian movement, like the story of its most famous salon, has been a combination of small numbers and big influence. It has never really emerged from the fringe, for the simple reason that most Americans want their government to educate the young and care for the old. But over the last few decades, they have also grown increasingly skeptical of collectivist policies that go beyond the basics. Libertarian thinkers — Rand, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard and others — have helped foment this skepticism and then enthusiastically pointed to the alternative."

Fair enough. Most movements are small, even those that have big effects. “Fringe” is a subjective issue; if a movement produces several Nobel laureates and a chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and plays a role in such policy reforms as the end of the draft, deregulation, sharply reduced taxes, and freer trade, is it still on the fringe?


Students who ‘desecrated Allah’ acquitted

March 21, 2007

World Net Daily

After months of pressure, San Francisco State University has decided not to punish College Republicans it charged with desecrating the name of Allah by stepping on makeshift Hezbollah and Hamas flags at an anti-terrorism rally.

Led by the non-profit advocacy group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the public and some media outlets had called on the school to “uphold the students’ constitutionally guaranteed right to free expression.

“We are relieved that SFSU has come to its senses and recognized that it cannot punish students for constitutionally protected expression,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “But the fact remains that the university should never have investigated or tried them in the first place. This was a protected act of political protest, and it is impossible to believe the university did not know that from the start.”

The trouble began at an Oct. 17 anti-terrorism rally in which the students stepped on butcher paper painted to resemble the flags of the Middle East terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah. The College Republicans say they simply copied the script from an image on the Internet and didn’t know it bore the name of Allah in Arabic script.


Study Shows Real-World Impact of Campaign Finance Regulations:

Arlington, Va.—Thanks to campaign finance regulations, ordinary Americans are being shut up and shut out of the political process according to a study released today by the Institute for Justice. The report provides a hard look at the real-world impact of campaign finance regulations on ordinary citizens—by actually asking them what they think.

“Campaign finance laws don’t just impact politicians and professional campaigners inside the Beltway—they impact ordinary Americans across the nation who simply want to speak out, but are too often shut up by burdensome regulations,” said Steve Simpson, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice.