Tag Archives: new york

Regulation of the Day 191: Sippy Cups

Children are messy. That’s why Richard Belanger, one of mankind’s unsung heroes, invented the sippy cup. By taking advantage of surface tension, liquid won’t spill out even if the cup is held upside down.  Even the most determined toddler has a hard time making a mess.

Then came the lawyers.

New York’s state legislature just passed a bill requiring warning labels to be put on all sippy cups sold in the state. It isn’t because sippy cups are dangerous. They don’t have sharp edges. They aren’t toxic. Nor are they a choking hazard. No, it’s because sometimes parents sometimes fill sippy cups with liquids that contain sugar, such as fruit juice. The labels warn that giving your child such drinks will cause tooth decay.

A similar bill passed last year, but fell victim to then-Gov. David Paterson’s veto pen. Current Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stance on sippy cup policy is unknown. He will see some interest group pressure, though:

“I can show you photos of children who go to bed with sippy cups,” said Mark Feldman, executive director of the state Dental Association, which pressed for the bill.

“All you see is little black stumps that is all that is left of the teeth,” he added.

And I can show you a busybody who spends entirely too much time worrying about other people’s children. If his strongest argument is anecdotal hyperbole (possibly photoshopped?), then his case is weak indeed.

Either that, or the ADA felt the need to have a legislative accomplishment to brag about in its newsletter to prove its clout.


CEI Podcast for July 21, 2011: Stopping the Music


Have a listen here.

Tough economic times are forcing symphony orchestras across the country to cut budgets and lay off staff, and in some cases shut down entirely. Labor Policy Counsel Vinnie Vernuccio, who coauthored a recent op-ed in the New York Daily News, finds that labor unions, by resisting necessary changes and limiting organizations’ ability to adapt to hard times, are doing more harm than good for the arts.

Regulation Roundup

With the unemployment rate still over 9 percent, regulators have been very busy tending to their own job security. Here are some of their more recent make-work programs:

-In King County, Washington, swimming without a life vest is punishable by an $86 fine.

-New food regulations in New York would make it illegal to cut cheese in farmer’s markets.

-A new California regulation would require retailers to provide seating for cashiers.

-The Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted voluntary new standards for cribs in 2008. Now it has decided to make them both mandatory and retroactive. That means that roughly 100,000 unsold cribs currently sitting in stores will have to be thrown away. Hopefully smaller retailers can survive the hit.

San Francisco is poised to ban goldfish.

-New EU regulations would require farmers to look after their pigs’ emotional well-being.

A weakened version of Texas’ TSA pat-down ban passed both houses of the state legislature. TSA agents found guilty would face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. The loopholes in this version appear large enough that it would do little to stop the pat-downs. Other states are considering similar measures.

Regulation of the Day 159: Playing Chess

Yacahuda Harrison, 49, likes to play chess. He and six of his friends were playing the classic strategy game in an Upper Manhattan park. Their game was broken up by “A squad of cops in bulletproof vests,” The New York Post reports.

This is because it is illegal for adults to be in said park unless they are accompanied by a child under 12 years old. The law is intended to keep molesters away from children.

No children were in the park when Harrison’s chess game was busted.

He and his accomplices were ticketed and have a December 28 court date.

Regulation of the Day Update: Ladies’ Night Bar Specials

As noted previously, ladies’ night bar specials are illegal in Minnesota. The state’s Department of Human Rights says they are unfair gender discrimination. But they’re still legal in New York.

That upsets attorney Roy Den Hollander. He thinks ladies’ nights are unconstitutional. So he sued several New York bars. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals wisely threw out his case. Even more wisely, they chose not to take him seriously:

The court, with evident amusement, said it must rule against Den Hollander even though “without action on our part, (he) paints a picture of a bleak future, where ‘none other than what’s left of the Wall Street moguls’ will be able to afford to attend nightclubs.”

It’s not often that New Yorkers show more common sense than Midwesterners. Minnesota’s solons should take heed.

Regulation of the Day 145: Unregistered Chariots

When King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered in 1922, six chariots were among the artifacts found inside. One of them even had some wear and tear; maybe Pharaoh had personally used it for hunting.

It is even possible that falling off that very chariot caused the broken leg that is believed to have ultimately killed him at the age of 18 or so. That chariot is now on display in New York as part of a traveling exhibition of Tutenkhamen’s artifacts.

Getting the chariot from Egypt to New York was quite an ordeal. At roughly 3,300 years of age, the wood is fragile. First it was carefully packed into a truck and driven to Cairo from the Luxor museum. Then it was loaded onto a New York-bound cargo jet. A curator was by its side at all times.

Once it arrived stateside, the New York Times tells of an unexpected regulatory hurdle through which the chariot had to pass before leaving JFK International Airport for its Times Square destination and painstaking reassembly:

When New York traffic officials reviewed the papers required for the oversize truck that would transport the chariot into Manhattan, they saw that the cargo inside was classified as a vehicle, and demanded its Vehicle Identification Number.

“I’m totally serious,” said Mr. Lach, the exhibition’s designer. “But we got it cleared up.”

Good for them. The exhibit is on until January 2 if you care to look for the chariot’s VIN yourself.

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.

Friday Regulation Roundup

Some of the stranger governmental goings-on I’ve dug up recently:

-It is illegal to deface milk cartons in Massachusetts. The punishment is a $10 fine.

-If you aren’t quite sure about the definition of “children’s product,” a proposed regulation would clear that up. Here’s a small sampling: “A determination of whether a product is a ‘children’s product’ will be based on consideration of the four specified statutory factors as further described in the discussion and examples provided in this interpretative rule.”

-The federal government has an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

-The government spends $23m per year on the National Agricultural Library.

-Wondering what the prevailing consensus is surrounding trailer homes? Check out the government’s Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee.

-Stimulus money is being used to replace peoples’ mailboxes – in some cases against their will.

-Eat your vegetables: The federal government has a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Seasteaders take note: the federal government has an Outer Continental Shelf Policy Committee.

-$110,000 in stimulus money was spent on an industrial-grade, automated pizza oven.

-It is illegal for a 9th grader to have a mustache in Binghamton, New York.

Why Prince Fielder Will Never Be a Yankee

A junior high school in Wisconsin is holding a bratwurst fry today. They’re raising money to fund a school-wide trip to a Milwaukee Brewers game next month. Sounds like a lot of fun.

This, of course, would be illegal in New York City, where food-based fundraisers are de facto banned. Administrators worry that they contribute to child obesity.

Regulation of the Day 130: Roommates

In New York City, it is illegal for four or more unrelated people to live together. At least 15,000 New York homes openly flout the rule.

The ranks of lawless hooligans cut across lines of class and race. According to the New York Times, violators “include young actors and ponytailed post-graduates; rising and falling junior investment bankers; immigrants, legal and illegal; and trend-obsessed residents in Brooklyn neighborhoods.”

The Times also interviewed a young film star who lives with five other people. He is not related to any of them.

People break the regulation to save money on rent. Given the cost of living in New York, this is a smart and prudent way to save money. It also leaves more housing left over for others, which helps to drive down housing costs.

Even better, if enough people pool their resources, they can afford to live in a larger home in a nicer neighborhood than they could pay for alone.

The city has the good sense to rarely enforce the rule – just three times since July, according to the Times. This is good. What would be better is to repeal it. When a law is almost universally regarded as counterproductive, not only should go unenforced, it should go away.