It was a nefarious year for nettlesome nosy-bodies employed by the Nanny State. Here are the top power-grabbers of 2010 who just can’t leave us alone:
— New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Two feet of snow paralyzed trains, buses, plows and emergency vehicles in the Big Apple this week. Perhaps if Bloomberg — the nation’s top self-appointed municipal food cop — spent more of his time on core government duties instead of waging incessant war on taxpayers’ salt, soda, trans-fat and sugar intakes, his battered bailiwick would have been better equipped to weather the storm.
— Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. He proposed meddling mileage taxes, mused about a system to track drivers’ routes, lobbied for high-speed rail boondoggles and promoted a “livability initiative” to limit suburban growth and force dwellers into public transportation. Then America’s driving czar floated a plan earlier this fall to disable cell phones through some kind of centralized government mechanism. LaHood backed off that creepy crusade, but he is still intent on waging war against drivers who choose to use cell phones, entertainment systems and GPS devices on the road. Just last week, the unstoppable control freak proposed a new rule banning truck and bus drivers from any use of cell phones while driving — including emergency calls on hands-free devices. His anti-car agenda is stuck in overdrive.
— The city of Cleveland. The green police in this Midwestern metropolis made headlines in February with an intrusive plan to roll out electronic snooping trash cans — “smart” rubbish bins bugged with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes to monitor residents’ recycling habits. Violators can be fined $100. Federal stimulus money has gone to fund similar programs in Dayton, Ohio. The technology originated in Germany, was adopted by eco-authoritarians in England (where at least 500,000 trash cans are now embedded with snitch chips) and has spread across Europe. Welcome to the age of Bin Brother.
— The city of San Francisco. The city board of supervisors recently took the “Happy” out of McDonald’s Happy Meals by banning all restaurants from serving toys with children’s meals that exceed arbitrary limits on calories, fat, salt and sugar. Even the mayor of the People’s Republic of San Francisco opposes the latest food-control scheme. But the bossy City by the Bay continues to assault consumer freedom with bans on everything from plastic bags to pet sales and soda pop. By executive order this summer, Mayor Gavin Newsom outlawed Coke, Pepsi and Fanta Orange drinks from vending machines on city property.
The decree dictates that “ample choices” of water, “soy milk, rice milk and other similar dairy or non dairy milk” must instead be offered. It’s not clear how vendors will be able to circumvent the city’s hostility toward plastic bottles. Maybe beverages will be served straight out of those noxiously trendy reusable cloth bags?
— The architects of Obamacare. After ramming a trillion-dollar package of unconstitutional federal health mandates down our throats, they said children and seniors would be saved, we could keep our doctors, costs would go down, and the economy would be boosted. Reality: Premiums have continued to skyrocket. Insurers nationwide have dropped child-only plans in the individual market. Obamacare taxes forced the AARP to raise its members’ rates. Hospitals have stepped up layoffs and shutdowns. And millions of Americans have only been able to keep their doctors and coverage after their employers, unions or health providers begged the feds for special waivers. Heckuva job, health bureaucrats.
— First lady Michelle Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee. Mrs. Obama first played the anti-childhood obesity card in September 2009, as a rationale for using her office to crusade for taxpayer subsidies supporting her hometown Chicago’s failed Olympics bid. Her argument: Kids would stay fat, lazy and uninspired if the Daley machine didn’t get its share of massive sports corporate welfare.
Next came Mrs. O’s push for the $5 billion expansion of federal child nutrition programs. As I first reported in February 2010, the legislation was a pet project of the Service Employees International Union, which seeks to swell the ranks of dawn-to-dusk year-round public school food service workers who organize under the progressive activist slogan “serving justice, and serving lunch.” In addition to school breakfast and lunch, the kiddie food patrol is now pushing subsidized dinner plans and summer food service to create a “stronger nutrition safety net.”
Nanny State Republican Mike Huckabee, who used his bully pulpit position as Arkansas governor to campaign for Big Government-endorsed “healthier living” in public schools and private life, naturally sided with Mrs. Obama — and took a swipe at Sarah Palin last week for criticizing the White House usurpation of parental responsibility and rights. Huckabee scoffed at the idea that the feds are “trying to force the government’s desires on people.” But school bake sales are already under siege, and Mrs. Obama’s childhood obesity task force has already called for new and dramatic controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods. Did Huckabee miss (or does he agree with) Mrs. Obama’s officious rallying cry on child nutrition: “We can’t just leave it up to parents”?
God save us from more busybody bipartisanship in 2011.