Tag Archives: brooklyn

Regulation of the Day 216: Selling Ice Cream to Kids


It can be hard for parents, but they need to tell their kids “no” from time to time. Letting children know that they can’t always get what they want is an important lesson in life. In Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, not all parents are up to the task.

Across the country, ice cream vendors will stroll through parks in the summer months; they go where ice cream trucks dare not tread. A lot of their sales are to kids. And parents know what happens when you get between a kid and ice cream: screaming, wailing, and gnashing of teeth are only the beginning. It isn’t fun.

That’s why some Park Slope parents want to ban ice cream vendors from parks. One parent wrote on a message board, “I should not have to fight with my children every warm day on the playground just so someone can make a living!”

One sees where her priorities are in these hard economic times.

This being Brooklyn, there is another wrinkle. The New York Post reports:

But Sarah Schenck says just say no to frozen confections.

Schenck, a mother of two and co-founder of the eco-friendly parentearth.com, said statistics back her up.

“Nobody wants to be a crank, but one in three kids are going to be obese or diabetic by high school,” she said. “When my kids see other kids get ice cream, they just start begging me. I just don’t think these are the fights we should be having.”

Most people have more nuanced views than Schenck; everything in moderation and all that. But there are people who think like her, and they are not afraid to use regulation to get their way. We should tell them no.

Regulation Roundup

Here’s a fresh batch of regulatory bloopers:

  • In Michigan, it is legal to kill ducks during hunting season, but not to scare them.
  • In Pateros, Washington, it is illegal for dogs to be nuisances.
  • Massage parlors are illegal in well-named Horneytown, North Carolina.
  • In Salem, West Virginia, it is illegal to eat candy if you’re going to church in the next 90 minutes.
  • In Maine, it is illegal to walk on any street with untied shoelaces.
  • In New Britain, Connecticut, fire trucks on their way to a fire may not go faster than 25 mph.
  • In Brooklyn, New York, it is against the law for horses to sleep in bathtubs.
  • In South Dakota, it is illegal to fall asleep inside a cheese factory.

Regulation of the Day 135: Mustache Nets

CORRECTION: It appears that I’ve been had. Commenter Dietsch at Jacob Grier‘s blog points out that the article was probably an April Fool’s joke. There are such things as beard net regulations on the books in various cities. But this particularly amusing story appears not to be true; probably for the better.

Hair nets have been a staple of the food service industry for a long time. They are not the most dignified fashion accessory. But they serve a useful purpose. Just like church and state, hair and food are best kept separate. Hair nets are a much easier way to accomplish that goal than, say, mandatory baldness for all kitchen staffs.

Which brings us to the latest fad in Brooklyn’s trendy Cobble Hill neighborhood: mustache nets. For some reason,Victorian-themed restaurants and bars are all the rage right now. Bars are redecorating with old-fashioned furniture and artwork. Bartenders are redecorating themselves with outlandish 19th-century facial hair, from mutton chops to handlebar mustaches.

Unfortunately, a regulation from approximately the same time period is getting in the way of all this nostalgic fun. New York State law requires all persons with facial hair who are serving food or drink to wear a mustache net.

Regulators have been cracking down on un-netted mustaches. They have cited several establishments, as Chow reports:

The crackdown was a surprise to restaurant employees—one bartender apparently panicked and attempted to hide behind a taxidermied warthog. However, many of those cited have remained defiant.

“I’d be happy to have my staff wear mustache nets—if I could find a sustainable source,” said a representative of one of the establishments targeted in the raid. “And so far, I have not found a mustache net farm whose mustache netting practices I believe in.”

It’s pretty easy to see why the nets aren’t very popular. A Google image search for “moustache net” yields this picture:

Doesn’t exactly befit the image of a chic bartender. But in New York, that’s the law.

Regulation of the Day 125: Salt

Having eliminated all crime from New York’s streets, ended homelessness, rebuilt Ground Zero, and fixed the state’s ailing public schools, New York’s state legislature has set its sights on how much salt you eat.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg already has a plan to reduce NYC residents’ salt intake by 25 percent over five years. But State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) thinks that doesn’t go nearly far enough. It only covers New York City, for starters. The rest of the state’s salt intake would remain perilously unregulated under the Bloomberg plan.

That’s why Mr. Ortiz has introduced statewide legislation that would “make it illegal for restaurants to use salt in the preparation of food. Period.

A $1,000 fine would accompany each violation.

Tom Colicchio, who owns a restaurant and has appeared on the television show Top Chef, is livid. He told the New York Daily News that “New York City is considered the restaurant capital of the world. If they banned salt, nobody would come here anymore… Anybody who wants to taste food with no salt, go to a hospital and taste that.”

He’s right; the salt ban does offend culinary decency. But there’s another angle that’s at least as important: personal responsibility.
If I want to pile on the salt, as Mayor Bloomberg famously does, that’s my right. But I also need to be liable for the consequences. If chronic salt over-consumption gives me high blood pressure and heart trouble, that’s my fault. I should pay the cost.

But that’s not how the current health care system works. We suffer from the 12-cent problem: on average, people only pay 12 cents for every dollar of health care they consume. Roughly 50 cents are picked up by the government, and insurers cover the rest.
That means people have less incentive to watch what they eat than under a more honest system. Why not rack up huge health care bills? Everyone else is paying for me. Health care on sale! 88 percent off!

Freedom cannot exist without responsibility. Decades of government encroachments in health care have taken away a lot of our responsibility for health care decisions. So it makes some sense that Mr. Ortiz would finish the job by taking away peoples’ freedom to eat what they want.

A better solution would be to have both freedom and responsibility, instead of neither. Ban the salt ban. Give people more control over their health care dollars. Let us be free. Let us be responsible. We’re all adults here. Treat us as such, Mr. Ortiz.