Nannies: The Next Class Warfare Casualty


Originally published at David Horowitz’s NewsReal Blog

Forget the nanny state.  New York is well on its way to becoming the nanny-less state.

The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights passed by the New York State Senate earlier this month is being sold as a package of workplace protections for nannies, housekeepers, and other domestic employees.  But is the legislation really a human rights victory for low-wage women or is it a job-killer likely to burden both domestic workers and the families who employ them? Read more

Take Mike Bloomberg With a Grain of Salt (Or Ten Thousand)

There’s a party in Mike’s mouth, and everyone’s invited.  Everyone except New Yorkers.  Via JWF comes the news that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, nanny extraordinaire, has targeted yet another OMGit’sSObadforyou substance: salt.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg stuffing his pieholeMayor Bloomberg, the mayor who declared war on tobacco, sugary drinks and trans fats, has identified a new public enemy — now he wants to protect New Yorkers from salt.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley launches a campaign today to cut New Yorkers’ sodium intake by one-fifth over five years.

“If we achieve our goal, we would talk about saving tens of thousands of lives,” Farley said, predicting that deaths from strokes and heart attacks will dramatically fall.

The City Health Department is spearheading the National Salt Reduction Initiative, which will cajole food manufacturers to voluntarily cut sodium content 20 to 25 percent by 2014.

But let’s not forget, Bloomberg loves salt almost as much as the fat laden junk food he uses as a delivery system:

He dumps salt on almost everything, even saltine crackers. He devours burnt bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. He has a weakness for hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken, washing them down with a glass of merlot.

And his snack of choice? Cheez-Its.

Do as I say, not as I do, Mayor Bloomberg?

On another note, I may need a new blog category: Reasons I Left NY.

Keep Government Out of Health Care, Say … Liberals?

Want a clear indication that the federal government has no business getting into the health insurance industry? Look no further than the Stupak amendment, the measure that attached tight abortion funding restrictions to the House health care bill.

Democratic consultant Karen Finney called the Stupak amendment “an attack on our personal freedom and liberty as guaranteed by the constitution.” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said the amendment “attempts to dictate to women how to spend their own money.” And liberal columnist Michelle Goldberg lamented, “Health-insurance reform was supposed to end the sort of hideous cruelties our system inflicts on patients, not create them.”

To call Finney, Lee, and Goldberg tone deaf would be a grand understatement.

The only reason the abortion restrictions in the Stupak amendment are so intrusive is because health care reform is so intrusive. When we increase the role of government in health care, our freedoms and choices become more vulnerable to politics. Period.

Funding for every aspect of the doctor-patient relationship, every medical test and procedure, and every health care guideline becomes susceptible to pressure from special interest groups and moral scrutiny by taxpayers.  If guys who can’t get it up have enough money to throw around, erectile dysfunction drugs make the cut.  If taxpayers think acupuncturists are predatory quacks, no reimbursement for them. And after the reconciled bill is signed by the president, an unelected body will make these decisions for all of us.

Liberals cheered when President Obama appointed an executive pay czar, reasoning that companies like AIG have no right to determine pay packages if taxpayers are footing the bill.  But somehow they missed the obvious lesson.  There are always strings attached to government handouts.

Welcome, liberals, to the hazards of government subsidy.  Either private insurance is restricted by health care reform, as with the Stupak provisions, or abortion receives some form of federal funding, thus changing the status quo.  There’s no in between.

Objectionable restrictions abound when we seek increased state participation in our lives through regulation or subsidy.  Just ask members of a United Methodist Church group that refused to make a beachfront pavilion available to a lesbian couple for a civil union ceremony.  The group lost its state property tax exemption for failing to make the venue available to everyone on an equal basis.  But that’s how it works: if you want state subsidies, you have to play by the state’s rules.

We’ve seen the impact on coverage in states that are experimenting with models of universal health care.  In Massachusetts, legal immigrants no longer have state-subsidized coverage for dental, hospice, and skilled nursing care. And if you’re a Medicaid patient, prisoner, or public employee in Washington state, don’t expect your government to cough up the cash for knee arthroscopy for osteoarthritis – it’s one of several treatments no longer covered.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that “the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited.”  Do liberals really believe that those regulations will exist to make their wildest dreams come true, now and forever?

When you invite the government to become more deeply involved in health care, you’re also inviting greater government interference in personal choice. Medical decisions become political decisions. That’s how it works, and it’s why philosophical opposition to the growth of government isn’t the crazy-eyed wingnuttery progressives make it out to be.

Proponents of liberal health care reform deliberately lured a bloodthirsty vampire over their thresholds, and now they’re shocked – SHOCKED – to find they have fangs buried deep in their necks.  I’m not one to blame the victim, but it sounds like they might be getting exactly what they were asking for.

Oysters: The Fox News of Mollusks?

First it was Fox News. Then it was the state of South Carolina. And now the Obama administration has a new target: oysters.

Yes, really. Oysters.

At issue is how far the federal government should go to save the lives of 15 people each year who die from eating contaminated raw oysters.

A top official at the Food and Drug Administration announced last month that the agency would ban as of 2011 the sale of raw oysters harvested from the Gulf Coast during the warm water months because they are the source for nearly all the deaths associated with raw oysters each year. The agency said processes like freezing and pasteurization that make the oysters safer are available and do little to alter the taste of oysters.

But oystermen and some restaurant owners say the difference in taste between raw and processed oysters is so profound that, were the rule to go into effect, the Gulf Coast oyster industry would be irreparably harmed and a cultural institution destroyed.

The oh so heroic efforts of Obama’s FDA could save 15 people a year from succumbing to Vibrio vulnificus, a type of bacteria that occurs naturally in oysters.  That’s nothing to scoff at. But is it worth yet another nanny state intrusion into our lives? And is it even necessary?

Food borne illnesses kill 5,700 people each year in the United States, but the FDA isn’t requiring irradiation of all produce.  Bungee jumping, flying, crossing the street, eating rare beef, leaving the iron on – these are all things that can lead to death, but we don’t allow the federal government to ban us from weighing the risks and making informed decisions.

What ever happened to “my body, my choice”?  I guess there’ll be none of that in Obama’s America.

One oyster lover calls the administration’s forthcoming ban on Gulf oysters “an attack on industries run in conservative areas who serve a blue collar clientele. Typical elitism.”  It’s hard to argue with his sentiment when thousands of oyster industry jobs are at risk in the Gulf region.  The economic effects in Louisiana alone could be staggering, and practical solutions that could save jobs and lives are not on the table.

Clearly we shouldn’t protect an industry at the expense of human life, but devastating the oyster industry isn’t the answer here. Instead of making decisions for people, let’s get them the information they need to make their own choices. Some people will still get themselves killed, but they’re free to do that because that’s how we roll in America.

Life is full of peril and uncertainty, and taking raw Gulf oysters off the market for half the year won’t change that. Not even in the era of hopenchange.

Simplified Tax Code, Obama Edition

Between covering breaking news of the First Pup’s television debut and yukking it up on prime time with juvenile teabag jokes, media personalities have been absolutely swamped this month.  Undoubtedly the talking heads would have found an angle that combined the two stories had Bo Obama not already been neutered.

But somehow amidst these concerns of grave national interest, and before swine flu began dominating the news cycle, little coverage was given to the implications of a significant tax day announcement. President Obama revealed that a rewritten federal tax code will soon “make it easier, quicker and less expensive for you to file a return, so that April 15th is not a date that is approached with dread every year.”

A simplified tax code is something most Americans can get behind.  The federal tax code now stands at a whopping 70,000 pages.  85 percent of American adults say the federal tax code is complex, and 82 percent say the tax system needs to be completely overhauled.

So what can we expect from an Obama approved tax code revision?  The first phase of the administration’s plan, conceived during the presidential campaign by economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, aims to eliminate tax returns for 17 million  Americans.

Under the “Simple Return” plan, the Internal Revenue Service would complete tax returns for taxpayers whose sole income comes from one employer and whose interest income comes from one bank. The IRS would then send a copy of the return to the taxpayer. If the first wave of the program worked well, it could be expanded to other taxpayers.

The second and third waves of the Simple Return plan could bring the total to 52 million participating taxpayers.

The good news? Next year you may not have to file a federal tax return.

The bad news?  The IRS will prepare your return for you.

Forgive me for plucking off a bit of low hanging fruit, but it’s hard to overlook that the IRS is overseen by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, a man who failed to pay several several years worth of self-employment taxes until his finances went under the Senate microscope during confirmation hearings. His excuse was something along the lines of “TurboTax made me do it.”  Who better to oversee the team of bureaucrats charged with calculating your tax bill?

But easy targets aside, this “simplification” is a political cop out.  Many of the complexities in our federal tax code are there because some politician, special interest group, or narrow constituency has lobbied for their existence.  Some serve legitimate government interests, but many don’t.  President Obama, like those who preceded him, will not risk alienating powerful voting blocs by ordering a careful review of the tax breaks and incentives that contribute to the corpulence of the code.

Instead, he pretends that the solution to a bloated tax code is a bloated IRS.  The IRS has been serving up spoiled broth, and Barack Obama wants to hire more cooks.  That’s certainly a different way of doing things, but simpler?  I don’t think so.

Proponents of the Simple Return plan boast that it could save taxpayers 225 million hours currently spent on tax compliance, and $2 billion in tax return preparation costs.  But how many additional Internal Revenue Service agents will it take to complete returns on behalf of 52 million taxpayers?  How many millions of taxpayer dollars will it take to implement this program?

And even if Austan Goolsbee’s plan wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime, should the government encourage people to shift partial responsibility for their finances to the IRS?  What federal interest does it serve when citizens relinquish personal responsibility to become more dependent on the government for tasks they can accomplish themselves?  Shouldn’t we be wary when the federal government offers to permanently shoulder our burdens?

Keep in mind, the vast majority of the tax returns we’re talking about are simple 1040EZ forms.  Even the IRS estimates a 1040EZ takes just a few hours to complete, but for anyone with a pulse and a modicum of aptitude with a calculator, the compliance time is more likely to be minutes, not hours.  The cost for individual taxpayers filing the 1040EZ is virtually nil – perhaps the nuisance of spending an evening in – except when they choose to hire a tax preparer.  Unless the filer is illiterate or disabled, tax preparation fees are completely optional.

Why should compliance costs that are voluntarily incurred by individuals become the collective responsibility of American taxpayers?

For the most conscientious among us, compliance costs will, of course, not change at all.  Even if our tax returns are completed by IRS bureaucrats, we will spend the same amount of time and money checking calculations as we do now.  Only the people willing to put absolute faith in IRS number crunchers will “benefit” from this new type of government dependence.  I’m betting those are the same people who place absolute faith in President Obama.