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If a tree falls in the forest...

February 23, 2013

[J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense on Broad View, KJFK 1230 AM Reno. Listen live Saturdays at 3:00 PM Pacific Time.]

The assault on individual liberty is constant and lately the struggle to defend liberty seems hopeless. The attacks are so many and come from so many directions, we don’t know where to concentrate our attention. It’s like playing Whac-A-Mole at Chuck E. Cheese's: as fast as we whack one mole on the head, two more pop up and start telling us what to do.

Last week in Nevada, some little busybody named Harvey Munford, a self-important state assemblyman from Las Vegas, introduced a bill that would impose a flat fee on every fast food meal in the state, to discourage us poor ignorant sheep from eating at McDonald's, and he introduced another bill that would outlaw texting while walking across state highways... because apparently he foresees an epidemic of hitchhiking Tweeters getting run over on Highway 50.

In New York, the mayor has earned the nickname “Nanny Bloomberg” for his orgy of control-freak regulations. He banned 16-ounce sodas, the ones that are perfect for sharing with your date at the movies. He banned food donations to homeless shelters. He banned smoking outside, in city parks. (Hey, somebody delicate might walk by and catch a whiff.) He banned baby formula in city hospitals and last week he proposed banning Styrofoam. Worst of all, in January he decided to restrict painkillers in city hospitals because he’s afraid people will get addicted.

God help you if you break a leg or get a pancreatitis attack while visiting New York – you’ll have to lie there in the emergency room and suffer.

Over in Oregon they’re talking about making tobacco a Schedule III controlled substance, which means citizens of the United States of America who have the misfortune of living in Oregon will need a prescription to buy a cigarette. Good luck finding a doctor willing to write that prescription. Maybe he’ll write a prescription for bacon-flavored milkshakes at the same time.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a brand new pickup truck on order at the dealer. I figger to run boxes of cigarettes across the border into Oregon, sell them on street corners, and make a fortune. My family could be the next Kennedy dynasty!

The worst collection of busybodies outside North Korea might be California, which is well on the way to banning everything. If it’s fun, tasty, or useful, somewhere in California it’s probably banned. Cough suppressants, tanning, caffeinated beer, guns, foie gras, pet stores that sell cats and dogs, nativity scenes, plastic bags, shark fin soup, bear hunting with dogs, incandescent light bulbs, selling old guitars, skateboarding, tiki torches, psychological counseling for gay minors, smoking on beaches, smoking in parks, smoking in your own home, and Styrofoam take-out containers – that’s just a partial list. The complete list would take hours.

(Notice the outdoor smoking and the Styrofoam: California must be where Bloomberg gets his ideas.)

The California Banning-Stuff Bandwagon gathered so much momentum they accidentally banned gay marriage before they could stop themselves. Republicans slipped that one through while liberals were caught up in a frenzy about the evils of tiki torches. Now they’re trying to backtrack by asking the courts to ban gay marriage bans.

If you’re old enough to belong to AARP, this constant meddling by overbearing legislators and regulators fills you with despair, because you remember what it was like to make your own decisions and learn from your own mistakes, and you miss that feeling.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, my high school principal stopped me one day as I was walking out the door and asked where I was going. I told him I was walking down the street to the public library. He said I should go to class. I said the library would be more productive because the class wasn’t that great. He said I couldn’t leave the school in the middle of the day, to which I replied, “Yes, I can. I’m a student here, not a prisoner.” When he threatened to call my parents, I said, “Fine, let’s do it,” and my mother, in her very polite way, told him to mind his own business.

That’s the attitude Americans used to have. Individual liberty wasn’t merely a theoretical concept – it was something we lived and defended. People would look a government bureaucrat in the eye and tell him where the line was... eagerly. When American boys went off to fight in foreign lands, they fought for liberty. Now the soldiers come home to a land where they can’t own a tiki torch or buy a dog at the pet store or get a 16-ounce Coke at the movie theatre.

I don’t know what happened to bring us here: to a place in time where Americans are willing to let government bureaucrats handle their healthcare, tell them what to eat, and take away their light bulbs. Maybe it’s the deteriorating state of our education system, maybe it’s the mind softening effect of television, maybe it’s uncontrolled immigration warping the culture, I simply don’t know.

One thing for sure: it’s sad and frightening to watch freedom being stripped from people too ignorant of their own heritage to notice.

That's... today’s dose of common sense.

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" – thought experiment

"Nations grown corrupt
Love bondage more than liberty;
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty." – John Milton

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." – Galatians 5:1

From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

February 24, 2013 - If you tried to leave a high school today they'd put you AND your mom in prison. You'd end up at the alternative high school with an ankle bracelet. – A.L., Las Vegas

February 23, 2013 - Back in the 60's Robert Heinlein explained TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch). It was sci-fi and, as such, not given the notice it deserved. (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress). Heinlein was a man of hard science and common sense, something sorely lacking in today's fiction and politcs; but wait, I repeat myself. Politics is fiction. – Don S., Missouri

February 23, 2013 - J.P., how unfortunately true! You and I both being products of the 50's were raised in a much different America than what our country is now. It saddens me and makes me feel ill in my heart the America we are passing down to our children and grandchildren. What is worse, is that at least 51% of this country either thinks it's a wonderful idea for all the government control and interference in our lives or they are too dumb to recognize it for what it is. Or perhaps, being side tracked by what they believe is "free stuff" they don't see that their liberties in pretty much every area are being eroded and stripped away. Maybe I'm too much a product of the 50's, because I didn't really see what was wrong with that America we were raised in. I liked the old America, where the bill of rights of our constitution meant something. They were honored and respected. Now it seem they are merely suggestions. I have never felt so discouraged and helpless as an individual and a citizen, watching our elected officials banning and regulating every minute detail of our lives. I see democracy slipping away. – Pam T., Virginia

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