(Centennial Fellow) I disagree with what you eat but I will defend to death your right to eat it. Okay, maybe I won’t take a bullet for your food preferences. Let’s hope the food police don’t make breaking their laws a capital crime.
It may come to that. NYC Mayor Bloomberg just announced that he plans to ban the sale of soft drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces at the city’s delis, fast-food restaurants, and sports arenas. Six years ago the mayor went after cooking oil—banning the use of trans fats in bakeries and restaurants. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, a ban on foie gras, a type of goose liver pate, is about to go into effect in California.
For the record, I generally avoid soda and I never eat foie gras. In fact, I don’t eat fried foods, potato chips, donuts, cake, fast food or most sugary drinks because they don’t taste good to me. I consume loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats because I like them. I would eat them if they turned out to be toxic, fat producing, brain damaging garbage. As for foie gras, I’m not comfortable eating it or veal because I’m not comfortable with the farming methods used to produce the meat.
I’m one of those free range chicken owning, beekeeping, organic gardening girls who works out every chance she gets. I’m also a libertarian and am appalled by the idea of illegal food. The hand wringing over obesity craze has gone too far. You know—the patronizing speeches, the cable network specials, even the use of the word “epidemic” as if pie was an airborne pathogen. How is anyone’s weight anyone else’s business? How is this not about thin people jeering at fat people. Suddenly I’m back in a junior high locker room.
We should be free to eat what we want and be as active or inactive as we prefer to be. It’s your life, your liberty, and your pursuit of happiness (and all things delicious) that’s at stake. First they came for the hotdogs but I didn’t eat hotdogs…then they came for my sprouts. Be alarmed.
Bloomberg justifies his soda size limit saying “We're not taking away anybody's right to do things. We're simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.”
Forcing us? He’s right about one thing, only government has recourse to force. Your mom can give you the “Do you really need that second helping?” look but she can’t levy a fine against your family deli. She can’t shut down your restaurant for selling supersized soda, trans fat French fries, or foie gras du jour. Only government can make food illegal. In a free country, that’s just wrong.
As part of his 20-day book tour to promote No They Can't. John Stossel, Fox Business Network host and commentator, spoke to attendees of the Values-Aligned Leadership Summit on Wednesday, April 18th put on by Colorado Christian University. John marveled the audience of over five hundred attendees with his gift for entertaining while saying something profound.Stossel’s just released book titled, “No They Can’t: Why the Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed,” is his latest book in defense of free markets and economic freedom. He thoughtfully addresses a myriad of issues all surrounding his premise that government intervention does not in fact make the world safer or better. Government intervention has failed to make schools, the food police, health care, or the whole economy work better, yet we simply sit back and allow our elected officials to forge ahead with their efforts at growing government.In Stossel’s book, one of the most intriguing issues included public schools and why costs have gone way up, while reading and math scores, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, have been essentially flat since the 1970’s. His remarks ran the gamut, from the war on drugs (because alcohol prohibition worked so well), the assault on food, gun control, tax breaks, free trade, fixing health care and why America’s defense budget should be downsized. Through every argument or issue approached, Stossel eloquently weaves the idea that Government policies often backfire and have unintended consequences, in an easy to understand, conservational tone.Stossel’s presentation at the Denver Marriot Tech Center used his patented gift for presenting issues in a simple, refreshing and straightforward manner that is not only easy to understand and appealing, but also logical. Stossel has clearly spent a great deal of time observing studying and analyzing things through, and then explained his opinion in a manner that not only appeal to the mind, but also to the heart.During his presentation he briefly touched on issues he spends an entire chapter on in his book. Two of the best pieces of content he presented were charts. One shows the decline in workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers between 1933 and 2005. The chart shows that "before regulation, deaths dropped just as fast." Or, as Mr. Stossel puts it, the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration "made no difference" in workplace fatalities.During Stossel presentation, he explained why he believes Government often makes the problems it intends to solve worse because individuals do a better job at determining how they want to live, rather than politicians. An apt example was his discussion of the TSA. While the costs of the TSA have gone up ten times since 2001, San Francisco Airport, one of the first airports to adopt private screeners, has enjoyed a high level of security that is balanced by the most passenger-friendly service possible. Consumers report that going through San Francisco airport is unlike going through any other airport in the United States. Much of this positive praise is due to the fact that their screeners are friendlier, lines are quicker, the screeners are more thorough in identifying contraband and do an overall better job at keeping flying safe out of San Francisco. The reason is due to the fact that a private company can be held directly accountable for security and customer satisfaction, while a Government agency can’t. If they don’t outperform the Government, they risk the loss of a huge Government contract. Stossel spoke of how other airports, namely Glacier Park International Airport, has tried unsuccessfully to opt out of using the TSA for airport security. The federal Government has denied their request because it would not be advantageous to the federal Government. So far, no airport that has opted out and hired private screeners, has chosen to come back into the federal screening program. Stossel also provided a cogent argument as to why people accept central planning so easily. “As kids, mom and dad planned our lives. Our ancestors followed tribal leaders and people have been programmed to follow the recommendations of ‘experts’, he said. They are told, “Parents don’t know what curriculum their kids should be taught in school.” But if left to their own devices, people follow their own self-interest and find ways to get the most bang for their buck. He added that public officials do not know how to "centrally plan a society", no one can- the world is too complex. Yet privatization and competition work in subtle ways that benefit everyone unequally, rather than equally sharing misery.“Freedom protects even the ignorant.” Said Stossel. “In places like India, British rulers set up complex systems of red tape, that are directly responsible in keeping places like India poor, due to socialism.” He continued. “People left alone become prosperous.” Hong Kong is the exact opposite, where their open business environment has helped millions of people and small businesses pop up and thrive due to their lack of red tape in the last fifty years. Stossel was the keynote speaker for the Values-Aligned Leadership Summit, in its tenth year. The conference was hosted by Colorado Christian University’s School of Business and Leadership, which encourages attendees to "Do the Right Thing". The theme of this years summit was ethical failures and the overregulation of business. Stossel addressed this central theme throughout his talk and concluded that we in America have too many regulations..."The Code of Federal Regulations, which contains all the final regulatory rules under which we live, is now 160,000 pages long", and well-intentioned rules in fact backfire more often than not. Stossel held an intimate book signing earlier in the day and posed for photos. He is perhaps best known for his career at ABC as a co-host of “20/20” and consumer reporter on “Good Morning America.” He says his controversial libertarian views led him to depart the network. He now hosts “Stossel,” his own weekly, one-hour show on the Fox Business Network. He has won 19 Emmy awards and written two other books.
(Centennial Fellow) At a time when state legislators should be doing everything possible to encourage job creation, a bill working its way through the Colorado Senate unfairly paints employers as unreasonable and untrustworthy.
Worse still, Senate Bill 3 gives trial lawyers another opportunity to sink their teeth into Colorado’s job creators – extracting “damages” where none exist and forcing employers to pay dearly just to prove their innocence.
Would it surprise you to learn that the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora), just happens to be a trial lawyer with one of the state’s most high-profile firms? Or that, at the bill’s first hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee which Carroll chairs, not a single witness claimed to have been denied a job or a promotion as a result of a credit history check?
According to Carroll, employers should be prohibited by law from reviewing a job applicant’s credit history and could be sued by applicants or disgruntled employees if they do. The bill makes a very narrow exception for jobs in financial services or defense and security.
When customers engage in a transaction, we often entrust a business with our personal financial information, and we expect them to keep it confidential and secure. Businesses know that consumer fraud is a $30 billion-a-year problem, so one precaution they take is to review the credit history of potential employees. But credit history isn’t the only factor considered in the hiring process nor is it the most important.
Moreover, businesses don’t sneak around to snoop at employees’ credit history. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act already requires employers to obtain written permission from the applicant to check credit history. Even then, the employer doesn’t see the actual credit score.
Various media reports suggest, using mostly anecdotal evidence, that job applicants with poor credit histories cannot get a job and that it’s normal for a person’s credit history to tank after losing a job.
Neither happens to be true.
With truly rare exceptions, an individual has more control over his or her credit history than does any external factor.
Losing a job certainly puts a strain on anyone’s finances, but not everyone who is unemployed dives deeply into debt or fails to make responsible adjustments to their spending habits. Surely job-seekers who maintain sound credit through these difficulties are entitled to be distinguished from those who don’t.
According to the Denver Post, “Senator Carroll said it’s unfair that a bad credit record should keep an otherwise qualified candidate from landing a job.” In fact, a bad credit rating is rarely, if ever, the determining factor.
Employers are, by and large, reasonable people who use a myriad of criteria to make personnel decisions. By considering an applicant’s employment history, training and references, employers are capable of discerning between someone who’s recently fallen on hard times and someone who is habitually one step ahead of the collection agency.
What is alarming is the persistent drumbeat by some legislators that treat employers as unscrupulous adversaries who must be constantly regulated, micromanaged and threatened with litigation.
Colorado businesses are job creators whose faith in our state’s economic climate and its government is essential to spur a sustained recovery. Yet year after year, a handful of legislators devise still more ways to make Colorado employers jump through regulatory hoops and spend countless hours and thousands of dollars in the courts defending themselves against mostly bogus allegations concocted by trial lawyers seeking a quick payday on behalf of disgruntled former employees.
Senate Bill 3 is yet another political solution in search of a real-world problem. Federal law already ensures that job-seekers control access to their credit history.
Here’s hoping legislators who recognize employers as allies rather than adversaries will stand together to defeat this ill-considered measure.
Mark Hillman is executive director of Colorado Civil Justice League (www.CCJL.org) and a Centennial Institute Fellow.
(Centennial Fellow) Figuring on going somewhere? Stay home and remain seated, because the federal government may otherwise throw you in jail. If you think I am kidding, listen to John Baker talking about the tens of thousands of laws waiting to grab you. "Congress has made every American potentially indictable for a federal crime," the law professor said to me as he explained the threat that began growing when Richard Nixon was in the White House. This president wanted a war on crime and got that and a lot more. As decades passed, liberals and conservatives joined forces in passing all kinds of criminalizing measures, often without knowing what the laws actually said. They did this despite the fact that criminal law was meant to be a state function. The Constitution outlined just three federal offenses -- piracy, treason and counterfeiting -- but Congress has added more than 4,500 statutes to the list since then, and that's without counting the arduous, undying assistance of bureaucrats. These happily busy public servants have squeezed in so many additional federal offenses on some 27,000 pages of the U.S. Code that groups trying to calculate the total have given up, including the U.S. Justice Department, the American Bar Association and the Congressional Research Service. Given that no one can do more than rough estimates of how many of these laws exist, it's obvious that not a soul can possibly know what most of them say, and then there is the related issue that many allow conviction with no proof of criminal intent, known by the Latin phrase, "mens rea," or "evil-meaning mind." Some of these laws are big-time with big-time sentences, but are so vague you can step off the cliff thinking you're on a legal bridge, and others are trivial, everyday stuff that can still can put you in jail, cost you a big fine and subject you to public humiliation. Maybe you somehow misappropriated the Smoky the Bear or Woody the Owl character. It could be handcuff time, friend. Chances are it won't happen to you, but it could even though you had absolutely no idea you were doing anything wrong and are far removed from entertaining criminal thoughts.Consider Bobby Unser, the race car driver, who was out snowmobiling with a friend and got lost. They abandoned one snowmobile, went in the direction of possible help and then struck out on foot, eventually finding their way to safety after two days of facing death.Federal officials wanted to know where Unser lost his snowmobile, and he made a guess and they said, well, that means you were on protected federal land and broke the law and face a $5,500 fine and six months in jail. He fought back with the help of several large organizations that think highly of justice, but even though the government never found the snowmobile, he had failed to prove himself innocent and was declared guilty. He was fined $75, but this was after he and those groups had spent as much as $800,000 fighting the case and the government spent something like $1 million, according to his version on an online video. The Wall Street Journal has been running a series of articles on this over-criminalization, and a number of groups are doing their best to get more politicians involved, among them the Federalist Society (with which Baker is associated), the American Civil Liberties Union, the Heritage Foundation and the Washington Legal Foundation. Solutions? Some of those suggested are outright repeal of many of the laws, rewriting others, making some nothing more than civil penalties and careful codification. There is an obvious problem. If sheer counting is a near impossibility, how long will reform take?