The Objective Eye

"Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation's troubles and use as a justification of its own demand for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen."
- Ayn Rand, "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business" (1961)

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

Friday, December 15, 2006

Kill the Holiday "Safety" Nanny. Please.

Now Playing: "Gary Moore & Friends - One Night in Dublin: A Tribute to Phil Lynott (via DVD)

On this, the 215th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, I had a perfect reminder of one of the cultural origins of retro-fascist edicts such as NYC's new "trans fat ban" (see immediately-preceding post) and the scores of smoking bans imposed nationwide in the wake of this country's turn-of-the-century Tobacco Witch Hunt.

It's that sometimes subtle, sometimes in-your-face nattering that now accompanies every single American holiday, as a full replacement for that outmoded and apparently toothless concept of simply...wishing people well. It usually goes like this:

"Have a Safe and happy holiday."

Once in a while I come across one of those little telling details, sometimes positive but in this case negative, that makes me want to shout from the highest mountaintop with the highest-powered Vogon-produced quadraphonic planet-spanning loudspeaker system available. It would go something like this:


Today it was a flier I got in the mailbox from some "safety" organization, warning me frantically about the Grievous Dangers Of Holiday Decoration, including how to avoid turning your Christmas trees, holiday candles, and "loose, flowing clothes," into firebombs. This apparent long-lost-Mommy-of-mine also nattered on about:

- the vital importance of not smoking near flammable decorations (presumably these decorations are located outside?);
- of Christmas light maintenance;
- of creating an "emergency plan";
- of practicing an "emergency plan";
- of not being cold-clocked by that lurking menace, the "early sundown";
- of safely crossing the street;
- of making turns in heavy traffic;

[...takes a breather...]

- "pulling out of a parking lot";
- "darting in front of oncoming vehicles" (hey, everybody fancies the odd game of Cricket or 501 in the middle of the street, eh?);
- ensuring that government safety labels are intact on lights;
- discarding damaged light sets and "cut off one end to prevent someone using a damaged set" (A-ha! Those dumpster-divers are after Christmas lights! I just knew it all along!);
- the fine art of how to determine the condition of your tree - "A fresh tree is green" (!) - This is verbatim, folks...

The sermon, at last, has the utter impudence, the practiced marriage of condescension and irony, to end its litany with:

"Nobody wants an injury to dampen their holiday cheer,"


"Remember, there is no substitute for common sense."

Well we can rest easy in the knowledge that the former problem (or "challenge" if you're a PC cultist,) has been nipped in the bud. Whatever holiday cheer may have been blossoming in the hearts of would-be revelers has been handily obliterated by this now-obligatory rubbing of our noses in Lurking Death, Mayhem and Dismemberment that accompanies everything from Christmas to Arbor Day.

So please - just get out of my face already with this "safety" drool.

How about we all practice saying: "Have a Happy Holiday." Period.


- - - - - - - - - - - - -


Here's an eminently bookmarkable website, the Center for Consumer Freedom.

A related must-read is an article about the new report based on the US Census Bureau's 2007 statistical abstract. Care to take a guess as to the two most dangerous consumer products available? Go ahead, guess.






(Christmas trees?)




Number one is bicycles.
Number two is beds.

"'Oughtta ban 'em all, I say."

And given time, they probably will.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Festering Statist Annoyance #6,822: The 'Trans Fat' Gestapo at

Now Playing: "Witch Hunt" by Rush - apropos, as it happens...

I was surfing the site on Tuesday Dec. 05 and came across an item by one Brian Kilmeade, on a page called "Friends Insider," which is apparently a kind of gossip blog relating to "Fox & Friends," which I've never watched, and, decidedly, am not likely to.

The link for Kilmeade's piece mentioned "saluting Mayor Bloomberg" for banning trans fats in NYC restaurants, a line I'd mistaken as parody.

When I got to the page, I had to read Kilmeade's four-sentence hit-and-run endorsement twice to confirm that no, it wasn't written in ironic mode:

"Salute Mayor Bloomberg of New York this week. We find out if the trans fat ban takes root and all eating establishment are forced to change oils or be fined and closed. Hey it tastes great but kills you; not a good trade off for my money. Look for more cities to follow like they did his smoking ban."

I presume that the "salute" in question will take the form of right arm extended upward, palm-down, at roughly a 45 degree angle. His opinion is ethically, scientifically and politically indefensible, though its final line is certainly true. The concept of "inalienable rights" refers to ethics, not metaphysics: The right of people to consume whatever they choose and the right of restaurateurs and publicans to produce products to meet that demand, certainly can be and are violated all the time in existential practice. But they are never violated ethically.

Fact: Trans fats are no more of a health hazard than standard, garden-variety saturated fats like butter or lard. But "Trans Fat" sounds just as impressive as hell, doesn't it?

Trans fats are, as University of Pennsylvania professor David Kritchevsky put it, the "panic du jour." Kritchevsky, who passed away last month at the age of 86, was a biochemist and one of the world's leading experts on diet and nutrition. But facts are not typically a high priority for today's real-world Dolores Umbridges. If they are for you, I recommend

Even with the fraudulent hysteria-mongering surrounding trans fat and every other Dire Health Hazard lurking in the shadows, any possible hazard, of course, remains beside the point: If we have a right to our lives, then we have a right to our physical bodies; if we have a right to our physical bodies, then we retain the sovereign right to determine a.) what level of safety we choose for ourselves and b.) our consumption based on that choice.

This "trans fat ban" is indeed the same kind of neo-fascistic lurch that we saw in the Tobacco Witch Hunt ca. 1997-2006. It's the paternalism of "we know what's best for you, child" - backed with the muzzle of a gun. The implications of that lurch were identified eloquently nearly sixty years ago, by a man who had to flee similar attitudes that manifested themselves among the denizens of 20th century Germany:

"[But] once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments. A good case could be made out in favor of the prohibition of alcohol and nicotine. And why limit the government's benevolent providence to the protection of the individual's body only? Is not the harm a man can inflict on his mind and soul even more disastrous than any bodily evils? Why not prevent him from reading bad books and seeing bad plays, from looking at bad paintings and statues and from hearing bad music? The mischief done by bad ideologies, surely, is much more pernicious, both for the individual and for the whole society, than that done by narcotic drugs...

"It is a fact that no paternal government, whether ancient or modern, ever shrank from regimenting its subjects' minds, beliefs, and opinions. If one abolishes man's freedom to determine his own consumption, one takes all freedoms away. The naive advocates of government interference with consumption delude themselves when they neglect what they disdainfully call the philosophical aspect of the problem. They unwittingly support the case of censorship, inquisition, religious intolerance, and the persecution of dissenters

- Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, from Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, (1949) 3rd Ed., pp. 733-734.

To bring the issue down to a specific question, one I asked in an earlier post on a different issue: If a frothing maniac were to walk into a restaurant, put a gun to the owner's head and say "You're gonna run things my way or else" - we would properly consider the perpetrator to be a dangerous criminal and demand that the police put him behind bars.

Q: How, exactly, does that same crime become "ethical" if it's done by proxy, via city ordinance?

Food with trans fat, like tobacco products, remains orders of magnitude healthier than fascism. The operative principle at work here, and to which Messrs. Bloomberg and Kilmeade are utterly oblivious, is that the State does not own my body - or yours, or anyone else's.

Here's a hearty "get well soon" to Mr. Kilmeade, Mr. Bloomberg and all others who share their unfortunate, reflexive twitch.