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Making Lessons out of Lemons

The article below is one I posted at the Cypress Times:

Probably the most entertaining thing about reading the article about the 7 year old girl who found her lemonade stand shut down by the Portland health department was reading the comments that followed. Those comments quickly devolved into a contest between ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals.’ That discussion was probably warranted, and while I would sympathize with the conservative comments I tend to think a valuable facet was generally overlooked: the overarching belief in our society that it really is possible to eradicate all unpleasant experiences and even if it is not possible, it is moral and proper to make the attempt.

By ‘unpleasant experiences’ I mean literally any unpleasant experience, from being murdered to being offended to being made sick by a little girl’s lemonade not properly handled.

What we have here is an attitude, and I have to say that it is not confined only to liberals or moderates but can be seen often enough among conservatives, as well. If that is the case, what label can be appropriately made? The problem is that once one goes down the road to taking action in the cause of the ‘public good,’ or as the US Constitution puts it, the ‘general welfare,’ there seems to be no objective place to stop and desist taking action. Moreover, the actions taken tend to accrue over time so that today government at every level- local, state, and federal- has reached into every area of American life. I say ‘every’ on purpose and deliberately, for I am hard pressed to think of any part of my life that isn’t regulated somehow by some government somewhere in some measure.

However, even if we should stop and discover one or two that have been overlooked at present, my general point is that if history is any guide, even these will fall to the regulators at some point. Since it never happens that these impositions- for our own good- are rarely, if ever revoked, we can say with nearly perfect certainty that a day is coming when every little endeavor we engage in, no matter how trifling or miniscule, falls under the legislating eye of the Omni-Benevolent Government.

Thus, a little girl’s lemonade stand necessarily falls under the purview of inspectors. Hence, locale after locale bans smoking- even in private. Consequently, we must, by law, ‘buckle up,’ and children up to a certain age and weight must have booster seats. Naturally, trans fat must be banned. Quite so, guns should be strictly regulated. Indeed, even our speech must be free of anything smacking of ‘hate.’

It is all a great big mess and it isn’t going to get any better short of scrapping the Constitution and starting over.

Read the whole column.


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