So often when we talk of major shifts in the role of government in our lives, we talk only of the issue at hand.
Things like the pros and cons of red light cameras. Or banning smoking at public parks. And regulating how much soda we can buy.
The reactions go something like this:
- “Hey, I’m all for seatbelt mandates, but these cameras just make us guilty until proven innocent.”
- “Banning smoking in restaurants makes sense, but it’s going too far to ban it in parks.”
- “It’s OK for the mayor of New York to ban trans fats in restaurants, but him telling me how much soda I can buy is freakin’ creepy, downright ineffective and damn near Orwellian!”
Much rarer is talk of the slippery slope these shifts bring.
A decade ago, we were questioning the ethics of fining motorists who didn’t wear seatbelts. Then came red-light-camera tickets.
Now, we all know that numerous studies have proven that red-light cameras often do little to improve safety and that they turn everyday Americans into cash cows for local governments to fund the bureaucracies that support the bureaucracies that take away more of our money, freedom and privacy. We also know they violate the cornerstone of our legal system:
The presumption of innocence.
However, we’re now mostly OK with these cameras. Cause it’s the government. And they’re looking out for us.
Five years from now, we will be saying the same kinds of things about other things:
- “I don’t mind red light cameras because they make me think twice about pushing a yellow light, but aerial drone surveillance is an invasion of my privacy.”
- “Secondhand smoke is dangerous, even when it’s one part to a billion in a public park, but they shouldn’t tell me I can’t smoke in my own yard.”
- “Trans fats and sodas are potential causes of obesity and ought to be highly regulated, but inspecting my kid’s lunchbox at public school is going way too far.”
The latter objections are things already creeping up in today’s Nanny-Police-State hybrid love child of a society:
Case 1. Congress recently passed a bill that could allow thousands of government-controlled aerial drones to fly in American airspace. Plus, the Environmental Protection Agency has already been accused of violating the privacy of cattle farmers in Nebraska and Iowa by using drones to allegedly spy on them. I think we’re far off from this happening to everyday Americans. But to think it wouldn’t happen, when the use of surveillance cameras is common–even in remote towns in Alaska–is an exercise in being blind to the fact that one intrusion begets another.
Case 2. While many New Yorkers have ridiculed Mayor Bloomberg for his aggressive anti-freedom, anti-smoking measures in public parks, the reality is that these bans will be spreading nationwide like other bans that ban-crazy governments have imposed. Don’t believe it? Believe it or believe it, Rocklin CA is considering a ban on residents smoking cigarettes…in their own yards.
Case 3. Bureaucrats at one Chicago public school actually believe parents shouldn’t have the right to pack PB&J sandwiches–or Maki rolls for that matter–in their own kids’ lunchboxes. That’s right, the school bans homemade lunches! In another example, many freedom lovers were outraged when one school in North Carolina inspected a girl’s lunch, determined it didn’t meet federal standards, took her lunch away, and made her eat food that was OK’d by the federal government–
USDA-approved chicken nuggets that is.
The next time you want to say “There ought to be a law” concerning personal nutrition, stop and conjure up an image of USDA-approved chicken nuggets on a partitioned tray. Then, conjure up an image of USDA-approved pink slime.
What is driving these busybody bureaucrats and prying politicians to take away our presumption of innocence, tell us we can’t smoke in our own yards, and ban homemade lunches?
They believe it’s their duty, bestowed by the statist deities they subconsciously worship, to protect us cancer-stick smokers, yellow-light pushers and Mountain Dew lovers from harming ourselves. In the case of red-light cameras, it’s also about money. Bottom line, it’s the belief that their legacies are better defined by taking our freedoms away rather than restoring them.
They follow whatever the issue du jour is. Right now, it’s obesity. Years ago, it was drugs.
The big question is…
What in the world will they be banning 10 years from now?