Tag Archives: Nanny State

Regulation of the Day 209: Playing on the Beach

When President Obama and his family took a recent vacation to Hawaii, paparazzi snapped some pictures of the big guy playing a game of pickup football on the beach. It’s a good thing he wasn’t in Los Angeles, or he might have been fined. A recent ordinance made it illegal to throw balls and even Frisbees on the city’s beaches.

After the public raised a hue and cry, the city’s Board of Supervisors liberalized the ordinance. Kind of. Now Angelenos are allowed to play a game of catch on the beach – if they ask the lifeguard first, or get a permit. And if they don’t follow orders, they can still be fined. This lighter touch is still awfully heavy.

You can read the entire 37-page ordinance here.

Other highlights:

  • “No person shall dig a hole deeper than eighteen inches (18”) into the sand… except at Director’s discretion, in consultation with Fire Chief, for film and/or television production purposes only.” (p. 16)
  • “[A] person shall not camp on or use for overnight sleeping purposes any beach[.]” (p. 20; Oregon has a similar law)
  • “No person shall operate any model airplane, boat, helicopter, or similar craft… except in an area that may be established and/or designated for such use by the Director, and subject to all rules and regulations pertaining to such area.” (p. 28)
  • “A person shall not use, possess, or operate in the Pacific Ocean opposite any beach regulated by this Part 3 a fishing pole, spear, sling, or other spear fishing equipment… within 100 feet of any person[.]” (p.34. Worth asking: is the “opposite any beach” clause sending a message to spear fishers in Japan, China, and other countries on the opposite side of the Pacific?)

Regulation of the Day 176: Cooking a Burger

In North Carolina, it is illegal to cook a burger to an internal temperature under 155 degrees. Rare and medium rare burgers are banned from the state’s restaurants. As regulator Larry Michael told AOL News, “According to North Carolina rules, a hamburger is cooked properly when it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit[.] There are no exceptions.”

Actually, there are. People cooking at home can still legally cook there burgers to whatever temperature they like. And a kind of rare burger black market has emerged. Regular customers who have built up a degree of trust with the staff can order a rare burger. But they’ve taken to speaking in code. The server will say that they’ll make the burger as pink as they can, just in case food inspectors are within earshot.

The reason they have to so circumspect is because openly giving customers what they want could cost the owners their restaurant license. Maybe it would be better to let adults set their own risk preferences. I personally prefer my burgers cooked medium. But if someone else wants to order a rare burger and is willing to bear the small risk of catching E. coli, let them. The only loser is the regulator who would have to find a more productive line of work.

There Is No More Fat to Trim from Government Budgets, Part 3

The USDA is spending $2 million to take pictures of what San Antonio school children eat for lunch.

CEI Podcast for May 5, 2011: Salt

Have a listen here.

A new study says that high-salt diets may not be as harmful as once thought. Research Associate Daniel Compton takes a look. He also points out that, even if salt is a health hazard, regulating salt intake probably won’t work as planned.

Regulation of the Day 167: Wearing Perfume

Portland, Oregon is banning city government employees from wearing perfume or cologne at work. The ban also covers “aftershave or other scented products like hair sprays and lotion.”

Violators will be disciplined.

Regulation of the Day 161: Crossing the Street

Three states are proposing to make it illegal to listen to your iPod while crossing the street. Legislators in California, New York, and Oregon are leading the charge, citing increasing pedestrian deaths. A similar proposal in Arkansas was retracted after constituents mobbed the state legislator who wrote the bill with hate mail.

Pedestrian deaths did go slightly up last year. But pedestrian deaths have been trending down for two decades, despite the rise of iPods and smartphones. Turns out that most people have enough common sense to pay more attention to traffic than their phone while crossing the street.

Legislating common sense is at best redundant. But in this case, it’s actually harmful. Police departments only have so many resources to go around. All the time and manpower they spend watching people cross the street is time and manpower not spent on more serious crimes. This is a solution without a problem.

Caroline May has more over at the Daily Caller (I am also quoted).

CEI Podcast — November 23, 2010: The Crusade against Alcohol Energy Drinks

Have a listen here.

Baylen Linnekin, author of the recent CEI On Point “Extreme Refreshment Crackdown: The FDA’s Misguided Campaign Against Alcohol Energy Drinks” and contributor to the food regulation blog Crispy on the Outside, looks at the recent push to ban alcoholic drinks that contain caffeine.

Baylen believes that regulators are over-reacting. Alcohol energy drinks typically contain no more caffeine than a cup of coffee, and their appeal to underage drinkers is overstated.

Regulation of the Day 156: Happy Meals

With an 8-3 vote, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors banned the greatest menace facing it or any other city: happy meals.

Restaurants are no longer allowed to include a free toy with kid’s meals. “This is a challenge to the restaurant industry to think about children’s health first,” said the bill’s sponsor, Eric Mar. He was named Reason.tv’s Nanny of the Month for his troubles.

I’m guessing restaurants’ first thoughts about the ban are not printable on this blog.

There is a loophole, though. If a kid’s meal is under 600 calories, includes sufficient amounts of fruit and vegetables, and does not include a sugary drink, then restaurants may include a toy.

Children’s reactions are said to be less than positive. Hearing “no” now and again is an important part of not growing up spoiled; though parents are the ones who should be saying it. But who needs parents when the nanny state is here?

With an 8-3 vote, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors banned the greatest menace facing it or any other city: happy meals.

Regulation of the Day 154: Potatoes in School Lunches

The federal government is considering limiting, or even banning potatoes from school lunches. Officials fear the tasty tubers are causing childhood obesity. They would rather children eat more leafy greens instead.

The children are not pleased. One child told the Associated Press, “That would be so not cool. I love tater tots.”

Critics of the nanny state’s slow but steady mission creep often ask, “What’s next, a law saying eat your vegetables?” Well, apparently it is next. Freedom advocates need to find a new reductio ad absurdum.

In fact, the USDA already has a temporary regulation in place disallowing food stamps to be used to buy potatoes. The rule may be made permanent next year. Poverty has more important indignities than losing some choice of what you buy at the grocery store. But what a way to treat adults.

Eat your vegetables. Or else. They’re good for you.

Regulation of the Day 152: Locking Your Car Door

Most car thefts happen to unlocked cars. The government of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, thinks it can help. It plans to issue $25 fines to people who forget to lock their cars. First-time violators get off with a warning.

Bear in mind that enforcing this policy involves police systematically trying to break into peoples’ cars. First, that’s inherently creepy. Second, that’s a significant privacy violation. It’s also a Fourth Amendment issue. If an officer stumbles upon something illegal and decides to prosecute, he has performed a warrantless search.

It’s also a safety issue. If a thief decides to play dress-up and look like an officer, he could very easily steal valuables from parked cars in broad daylight and no one would be the wiser.

One more problem to add to the pile is corruption. A legitimate officer might be tempted to give himself a quick pay raise at a forgetful car owner’s expense. Policing for profit is all too common.

Better for the government to stay out of this one.