Nanny State Update: Obama's Food Cops Strike and D.C.'s Regulatory War Against Consumer Choice
The cost of the Nanny State is growing, in terms of our liberty and money; American Action Forum has released a report finding that new regulations under Obama have cost us $488 billion dollars. Some of the most costly agencies are: DHHS at $16.7 billion, the EPA at $12.1 billion and DOE at $10.6 billion in 2012 alone. Our Cost of Government Day (COGD) report chronicles the even bigger problem of systemic growth in the regulatory state and with it the costs of regulatory bureaucrats. Check out the AAF report here and read this year’s COGD report here. Read ahead for more in the regulatory wars waged across the country this week.
The Nation’s Capital…of Regulatory Capture: Last week, the District of Columbia turned another page in its regulatory war against livery services trying to operate in the city. Despite the District’s notoriously atrocious cab cartel, the DC Taxicab Commission proposed rules this week that would expand their monopoly on transportation services. Devised as a direct attack on the emerging and popular car service, Uber, which allows consumers to nab a private car via their smart phone, the rules would have a crippling economic effect on businesses and consumers. The regulations would arbitrarily define a legitimate sedan company as one holding a certain number of vehicles, dealing a death blow to drivers who have started their own small businesses with only a few cars. This is a classic example of government trying to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, and conspiring against an incredibly successful and popular industry responding to the needs of consumers. Our Executive Director submitted testimony outlining the free-market concerns for the legislation, which can be read here.
Possible jail time for not keeping your yard tidy? In a Ridgewood Village, New Jersey, the town council is backing down on a plan to put residents in jail who do not clean their laws properly for city debris pickup: "Branches must be bundled and tied, not to exceed three feet in length, not more than two inches in diameter, and must be placed behind the curb, off the sidewalk. You may also place debris in a barrel, with the barrel not placed in the street." Although the Council is no longer threatening its residents with jail time, it is still levying a $1,000 fine for not following the rules.
Obama’s food cops: There will be no more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for students in Alexandria Virginia. Despite the fact that peanuts have fallen victim to bans before because of the severe allergy threat they pose, no such consideration governed this newest food prohibition. Instead, paternalists are worried the lunchtime staple will not measure up to the arbitrary “nutrition” guidelines designed by the Obama administration. US New reports: "Students could bring their own PB&Js, but they could not buy them. And, for those kids who rely on government-supplied meals, they could only dream of choosing between crunchy and creamy and strawberry preserves or grape jelly. Now, their choices are likely between fish nuggets and chef salads."
Anti-free speech ban lifted: In a win this week, Brigham City, Utah will stop enforcing a ban on speech in non-free speech zones. Due to a settlement between the city and the ACLU, Mormon Church members are now allowed to hand out fliers in front of a Mormon temple. “We are thrilled that our clients are no longer being banned from public sidewalks merely because they would like to express their views, assemble, and freely exercise their religion,” said the ACLU lawyer defending the church group.
Behave on the sidewalks: Evidently, the Mayor of Anchorage Alaska thinks the city’s citizens should be prohibited from lying or sitting on the sidewalk. Mayor Dan Sullivan overturned a 7-4 assembly vote that would repeal the law that was passed last November. Despite the fact that residents of Anchorage are the ones paying for the sidewalks, the Mayor clearly thinks he owns the whole damn road.
Mayor of East St. Louis is the new baby sitter: A new restriction passed by Mayor Alvin Parks of East St. Louis has enacted a new curfew and dress code for the city’s youth. Anyone under 18 that is caught out of class during school hours, outside after 10pm or out of the house or school anytime without a parent or guardian, they will be arrested. Additionally, the mayor decided that youth should also be prohibited from wearing any blue or red. Citizens were reasonably disturbed: “How can you tell a person what color they can wear?” Not only does this ordinance go too far, it is probably illegal: “You can’t simply outlaw a color. It just doesn’t work that way, especially when you’re talking about possible detention or arrest,” an ACLU lawyer stated. Mayor Parks, don’t let the First Amendment get in the way of your desire to become the baby sitter for every child in your city.