There's been a lot of talk lately about government overreach and the creation of what some call "the Nanny State." Seems to me, however, that a lot of the nannying comes from the Right side of the aisle. And that some comes not from the state at all. Below are just a few things that weren't around when I was born, but now are a part of daily life.
• The Patriot Act
• Warrantless Wiretaps
• TSA Enhanced Pat Downs
• MPA Movie Rating System
• Surgeon General's Warning on Tobacco Products
• EPA Automobile Emissions Testing
• Fast Food Nutrient Labels
• Zero Tolerance Drug Policies in Schools
• City smoking bans (amended post 11/28 to add)
This is just me, but if ALL of the above were wiped away tomorrow, I'd be OK with that. For me, it's more of an equal time issue. If someone can warn me that cigarettes may cause heart disease with a label on one side of the pack, there should be a label on the OTHER side of the pack that says, "These taste really awesome after a steak dinner." As for things like Zero Tolerance and Enhanced Pat Downs, they just don't work. There's a longstanding tradition in America, which basically can be summed up as: "For Christ's sake do SOMETHING! Even if it doesn't work. We can't look like we're doing NOTHING! More flapping! More flapping!" And in my opinion, that's just jackass stupid.
Before my Libertarian readers get too excited, there are things I'd keep: OSHA, the FDIC, the Dept of Education, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to name several.
Just thought I'd put that out there. I'm sure you'll tell me where to shove it.
The train pulls into Bethlehem station and squeals to a stop just shy of the knuckle. Dad grabs our bags, mom her purse, and we feel that first bristle of November air as we move from the coach to the platform. My grandfather is waiting, stout, grinning, his boxer's body gone not quite soft from beer. He hustles us to his coal black Olds 98, where the back seat has its own clock. My dad sits up front, mom in back with me. I watch the telephone wires dip and soar as we speed along the road. There's talk of the weather, and work, of Christmas ahead. When we arrive, we're greeted by the mingled smells of turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, and my grandmother's Hungarian apricot cake. The TV is on: Mighty Joe Young. The two Siamese cats are curled like Yin and Yang upon the heating vent, which roars and belches like a dragon's breath. I am home.
A few months ago I tried to draw a net around the characteristics of what seemed to be my toughest days. I figured that i I could determine what they all had in common, perhaps I could fix it. So, I made mental notes and little lists. And it turned out that the "perfect storm" was a day where every message I received (whether from family, job, finances, or anywhere) was that I was "doing it wrong" (whatever "it" was) or that the world would be that much better off without me in it. I called these perfect storms "Zero Affirmation" days.
Unfortunately, solving the problem proved far more slippery than identifying it. Mostly because the lion's share of factors leading to a Zero Affirmation day are out of one's control. You can't control who calls you, what arrives in the mail, your spouse's bad mood, your kids' behavior, traffic, weather, etc. However, you can help others to avoid such days.
Treat your spouse like a loving partner, not an errand boy/girl.
Treat your kids like you haven't seen them in a week.
Be respectful in your relations with the public and commerce. Chances are the clerk you berate is just trying to avoid having a Zero Affirmation day. Last week, I listened for 10 minutes while a kid at the CVS counter told me about his hellish stage crew schedule. If you have the time, be an ear.
Affirm yourself. It's hard to be kind when you yourself feel neglected. And sometimes nobody else is gonna give you a pat on the back. So do one small nice thing for yourself each day. A bath. A favorite CD. A candy bar. A good cigar. Whatever rubs your Buddha.
Go forth and be well!
We now return you to your standard crabby bullshit.