Friday, November 12, 2010

Thou Shalt Not

By Alan Caruba

Is there anything that some special interest group or some government agency doesn’t want to forbid you from eating, driving, wearing, using, and enjoying? We live surrounded by a multitude of “thou shalt not’s.”

Throughout history people have been afflicted with rulers and others who felt compelled to create lists of things forbidden to them. In matters of moral behavior, the Decalogue, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments, is quite sufficient to get you through life. Generally speaking, everything else from dress, food, and fun should be an individual decision so long as no one else is harmed.

The biggest “success” story among the lifestyle puritans are the endless restrictions on smoking. The biggest crock is the claim that “secondhand smoke” killed a lot of people who did not puff on a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Worse, millions in “stimulus” money, public funds, have been allocated to anti-smoking campaigns.

As just one example, Georgia’s Dekalb County’s Board of Health received $3.2 million for an anti-smoking campaign and it is just one of four urban areas that have received such funding. A total of $650 million is being wasted in this fashion. How many jobs will this create? None.

My late Father lived into his early 90s and I cannot recall a day he did not light up his pipe, nor the sweet perfume of the smoke as it wafted around the house. My late Mother, who never smoked a day in her life, also lived well into her 90s.

Mother was a cookbook author who taught classes in gourmet cooking and dining for three decades in the adult schools where we lived. An authority on wines and liquors, we had a wine cellar in the basement fit for royalty; apparently all that wine had no adverse affect and likely prolonged her life, Dad’s and mine.

Americans love fast food. We love our McDonald’s, our Burger King’s, the many pizza franchises, Red Lobster’s, Olive Garden’s, Outback, and all the other wonderful places to take the family or a date. They all remain the object of scorn and scolding by endless self-appointed “consumer advocates” They and every other thing we eat are blamed for an alleged epidemic of obesity. Do I care if someone is fat? No. It’s none of my business.

Claiming that fat people cost taxpayer’s money is absurd. Many come from a long family line of hefty ancestors. Surely all those people who are genetically disposed to cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses cost money as well, particularly if they have lost their jobs and no longer have health insurance.

I am concerned about illegal drug use, mostly because it fuels the Mexican drug cartel wars that are killing Americans foolish enough to wander into bandito land. I yield to my libertarian inclination to think that we could eliminate a lot of wasted time and money if we just legalized drugs and let those foolish enough to use them pay taxes for the privilege.

I know that drug users, like alcoholics, underage drinkers, and a wide variety of solid citizens will drink and drive, but that’s why we have police and jails. Nothing will stop it except perhaps for bartenders who refuse to sell “one more for the road.” You could close every liquor store in sight and people, as in the bad old days of Prohibition, would find a way to have a drink or two or three.

I grew up in a time when kids rode bikes without mandatory safety helmets, drank water from the garden hose, played ball in the street, and lived to tell about it. We were told “don’t talk to strangers” and it was good advice. We were told to be home for dinner, a time set aside for the entire family to sit down together and discuss the events of their day.

I dislike the eco-freaks who demand that everyone buy a hideously expensive electric car when the ones we do buy are marvels of technology while there’s an estimated thirteen trillion untapped barrels of oil sufficient to keep them running on high octane for a very long time to come. Consumers will save an estimated five billion dollars if the government allows the ethanol mandate to end this year.

I don’t frankly want to hear that every single thing I buy is not sufficiently “Green” or that my “lifestyle” is an offense to planet Earth. I harbor the notion that the Earth doesn’t care and that these annoying people will complain that my ashes were despoiling the Atlantic Ocean when I pass from this mortal coil.

I have a friend who lives in a cabin in the backwoods of Missouri with two dogs as his companions. In the past he has enjoyed a fair degree of success as an author and other literary endeavors, but these days, when not earning a living as an editor, he is into the distilling arts and sciences, making some excellent hard cider and other potable potions. For his 51st birthday, he has signed off social networking on Facebook and yanked his blog from the Internet. To his longtime friends he said you know my phone number and address.

He is a happy man, having earlier rid himself of a crazed wife and dodged a potential one for whom he was the perfect “fixer-upper.” An unfortunate investment in a saloon in the methamphetamine capitol of the U.S. did not pan out. He accepts the fact that the nation is broke and that he cannot do a damn thing about it, nor does he expect Congress will do anything sensible to avoid this outcome.

I find his attitude refreshing though it is my “job” to warn against the coming collapse.

It is, however, the nature of all people elected or appointed to any position of power, no matter how low or high, to thereafter enlist an army of bureaucrats to enforce a multi-volume encyclopedia of regulations intended to save us from ourselves and to behave exactly as they want us to. I don’t like any of these people.

I wish all those harridans, hypocrites, and others who think they know better how you and I should live our lives would all be transported to the dark side of the Moon.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


Moondancer said...

Hey Alan...You wouldn't happen to be running for president in 2012 would you?....just wondering!! Too bad our damn elected officials don't have the common sense you have!!..It's as if they don't have a clue!

TexasFred said...

The common sense of Conservative Libertarianism...

I wish more would embrace it in the way you, I, and a few other do.

Ronbo said...


We need to start a campaign against bureaucrats who have nothing better to do than invent ban lists for products and regulations to bedevil us.

I suggest we start calling them, "Herbert."

I get this idea from a classic Star Trek episode where the Enterprise rescues a stolen space ship full of 25th century hippies on their way to planet named "Eden" from certain death only to be mocked by them without good reason and called, "Herbert."

We find out later in the episode that many young people in this future era express their contempt for bureaucrats by calling them, "Herbert" - who really had existed and apparently was the bureaucrat's bureaucrat who was infamous in the Federation for applying roadblocks of regulations on any productive enterprise.

We never find out the fate of the real Herbert in this episode, but we hope that rebels beamed him to a desert planet along with his petty guidelines that had micro-managed life in the Federation.

Guy in Ohio said...

Fabulous! I couldn't have said it better myself Alan ...

The constant assaults on our liberties in the name of health, safety, "the children" or whatever other ridiculous reasons they choose to come up with are a daily source of aggravation to me.

I just read a story today saying that the city of New York is countering the recent pro-second amendment Supreme Court decisions by giving their police and permitting officials a plethora of new ammunition to restrict their citizens' gun ownership rights.

Failing to pay child support, or having a few speeding tickets are now just two of several ridiculous new justifications they've come up with to deny a citizen their right to own or carry a weapon in New York.

Apparently, their reasoning is that any citizen who would break those simple laws will also break gun laws. So much for your right to protect yourself, or the right to remain innocent until proven guilty.

Where will this stop?

Guy in Ohio said...

Sorry, I'm not real sharp when it comes to posting active links, but here's the story on the New York gun law proposal ...

Anonymous said...

The only way to make them leave us alone is term limits and time limits. By time limits I mean they should have to conduct their business only so many months out of the year and the rest of the time they can go back to living with the rest of us. With only limited time to enact necessary stuff they wouldn't have time to think up new ways to irritate, provoke and deprive us.

LarryOldtimer said...

Outstanding blog, Alan.

cabby, most excellent idea.

A long time ago, CA had a "part-time" legislature, and it worked out well, back then. Politicians had to have real jobs then, as the pay for members of the legislature was real thin, as it should be.

TonyfromOz said...

.....taken to the dark side of the moon. Maybe there's some unintended irony here in Alan's very last words.

'Dark Side of The Moon', by that wonderful outfit Pink Floyd.
Greatest album never to win a Grammy.
The last track on that album is titled 'Eclipse'.
The last line of the song is spoken as the music fades out.....

"There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark."

A bit like the situation now I guess.

Matt said...

Alan, now don't you go joining your mate in the backwoods of Missou, you hear?

I couldn't hold it against you if you did, but posts like this one buoy me. What you do is important.


Alan Caruba said...

@Janet: I will not be heading off to the backwoods of Missouri or anywhere. I am born and bred in the suburbs.

BF Admin said...

"I grew up in a time when kids rode bikes without mandatory safety helmets, drank water from the garden hose, played ball in the street, and lived to tell about it."
Been there, lived through it, including going trick or treating on our own. What crazy risk takers we were:)

Brian H said...

Just to clarify, there is a Far Side of the moon which we never see unless we go there in a spacecraft, but every portion and side of the moon gets its fair share of sunshine. When it's "New Moon" time here, the Far Side is fully illuminated, e.g.