WASHINGTON, December 14, 2011 – First they banned foie gras in Chicago. Next, Auntie Bloomberg started to move against allowing Big Apple food stamp recipients to purchase sugary soft drinks with their stamps. The nutcases on America’s Left Bank in San Francisco are after McDonald’s Happy Meals.
Now the Feds have decided to join the fun (aside from their usual anti-fracking and global warmist propaganda) by proposing, effectively, to ban all cell phone usage in automobiles across the nation.
Heedless of the majority of states that have already addressed this issue in generally sensitive ways—and heedless as well of the incredible disappearing 10th amendment to the Constitution—the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) thinks that states “should ban all driver use of cellphones and other portable electronic devices except in emergencies,” according to an AP dispatch.
Tuesday’s “unanimous recommendation by [NTSB’s] five-member board applies to both hands-free and hand-held phones and significantly exceeds any existing state laws restricting texting and cellphone use behind the wheel,” quoth AP.
NTSB was apparently reacting to a tragic, massive crash in Missouri last year that killed two people and injured thirty-eight, all of which was caused, it was later discovered, by a 19-year old driver who apparently confused driving with texting as so many teens are wont to do these days.
Look. This writer (not to mention most people reading this column) has either witnessed an accident waiting to happen, has nearly missed one, or has been involved in one that was directly or indirectly a result of a driver whose mind was not on the road. It happened in the 1950s, it happened in the 1980s, and it happens now, except that only now is the likely cause the overzealous, inappropriate, and often compulsive use of cellular phones.
For this reason, this writer, as well as most of this column’s readers, generally support common-sense state and local laws that impose fines and penalties for drivers who speak or text on non-hands-free devices while driving. It’s a little like shaving in the rear-view mirror while you’re on your way to work. If you’re driving a lethal weapon, you need to pay attention to what you’re doing on the road, first and foremost.
Everything else is not so bloody important that it can’t wait for a few moments.
And in the event that you’re really as important as you think you are, there are plenty of cheap and easy hands-free ways to use the cellphone while you’re on the road, making such use no more dangerous than switching the station on your car radio—which, as we recall, hasn’t been illegal since before Henry Ford rolled out his first Model-T.
But that’s the problem here. The NTSB wants to ban hands-free use as well. The only exception, apparently, is “emergency use.” But who, exactly, will get to define what an emergency is. Maybe the NTSB is going to draw up a 200-page tome of regulations defining acceptable emergency use as well. You see where this is going. Next stop: license fees for the use of park benches, and taxes and regulations on using the sun.
Flush with power, and threatening to drive out of office anyone who gets in their way (like Wisconsin Governor Walker), the leftists who dominate government today on the local, state, and national levels are collectively functioning as a band of elitist Brown Shirts who are increasingly trying to govern this country like a bunch of cranky, sour-faced, and yes, conservative grand-nannies.
THEY will define what’s good for us. THEY will impose harsh laws, fines, and penalties to keep us in line. And we have no input or recourse because THEY know what’s best for us. We’re too dumb to take care of ourselves.
In a piece written earlier this year commenting on a New York Post exposé, Ed Driscoll noted that paper’s lengthy laundry list of bans the New York City Council was seriously considering to impose, in order, no doubt, to better the lives of the Big Apple’s dunderheaded and clueless citizens. (More here.)
Dating from 2006, Driscoll notes, the council has eagerly desired to BAN (my comments in itals):
- Trans-fats. (Already accomplished in many jurisdictions is if it were their business.)
- Aluminum baseball bats. (Why is this important? Louisville Slugger lobbyists? Anti-Alcoa demonstrators?)
- The purchase of tobacco by 18- to 20-year-olds. (Since 18-20 year old are “going to have illicit sex anyway” why would a tobacco ban on the same age group be any more effective than admonishments on abstinence and “safe sex?”)
- Foie gras. (See Chicago, whose Idiotarians ended up repealing their nutty legislation. Why is it someone else’s business what you or any of us eat?)
- Pedicabs in parks. (??? What’s next? Pedicures in parks?)
- New fast-food restaurants but only in poor neighborhoods. (So we should be building Morton’s steak houses in the South Bronx where the neighbors can afford to eat in them? And posh Mickey D’s on Park Avenue?)
- Lobbyists from the floor of council chambers. (Actually a non-starter since most pols aspire to doing this when they retire as double dippers. But see “appearance of impropriety.”)
- Lobbying city agencies after working at the same agency. (See above comment. Not gonna happen.)
- Vehicles in Central and Prospect parks. (Like horse-drawn carriages transporting paying tourists?)
- Cell phones in upscale restaurants. (See NSTC. Hey, let’s ban cell phones entirely. Irony is, it’s probably the leftist Brown Shirts and pols who violate this notion most egregiously, and they’ll ignore this law, too.)
- The sale of pork products made in a processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., because of a unionization dispute. (Fine. Perhaps NC citizens can help enact a law that bans the rapacious NY banks who caused the Great Recession from doing business in North Carolina, although Charlotte-headquartered Bank of America might complicate this ban a bit.)
- Mail-order pharmaceutical plans. (WTF? This is the City Council’s business?)
- Candy-flavored cigarettes. (See above comment.)
- Gas-station operators adjusting prices more than once daily. (So maybe the politicians should just nationalize the gas stations since they seem to know the business better than the owners anyway. See mail order pharmaceutical plans.)
- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (This is a metaphor for Wall Street, right? Don’t they live in Sarasota, Florida? Besides, they can stage the circus across the river in New Jersey and NJ can get the tax receipts from paying New York customers, right?)
- Wal-Mart. (Saving average New Yorkers a lot of money with non-union labor. What a concept. We should ban Wal-Mart for sure. Keep ‘em out. Who wants to save money in this swell economy?)
We need to stop this juggernaut of nanny state regulators and regs before it’s too late to stop them. There’s no denying that there need to be a few rules of order when it comes to the dangerous over-use of cell phones while driving.
The presumption of common sense in this country seems virtually to have vanished since the 1950s, so you have to focus attention on things like this to some extent, unfortunately.
On the other hand, state and local jurisdictions either have already addressed the cell phone issue or are in the process of doing so without resorting to the kind of draconian, ham-fisted regulations the NTSB seems determined to try to impose.
We need less, rather than more, regulation in this country, particularly on the Federal level. It’s time the average American began to make his or her voice heard whether it involves government overreach on everything from foie gras to cellphones, or the ruinous increase in utility and fuel costs directly related to the left’s bogus—and now proven false—fear-mongering on global warming climate change.
The nanny state regulators are robbing us of both our freedoms and our wallets. November 2012 is the time to start drawing this sorry chapter of our national history to a rapid and effective close. It’s time for all of us to ban the nannies themselves.
Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of theWashington Times Communities. For Terry’s political and investing insights, visit his WT Communities column, The Prudent Man in Politics.
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