Monthly Archives: July 2008
Fellow Californians, say goodbye to trans fats:
California, a national trendsetter in all matters edible, became the first state to ban trans fats in restaurants when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Friday to phase out their use.
Under the new law, trans fats, long linked to health problems, must be excised from restaurant products beginning in 2010, and from all retail baked goods by 2011. Packaged foods will be exempt.
How does the Governator think of you?
“California is a leader in promoting health and nutrition, and I am pleased to continue that tradition by being the first state in the nation to phase out trans fats,” the governor said in a statement. “Consuming trans fat is linked to coronary heart disease, and today we are taking a strong step toward creating a healthier future for California.”
Gee, I wish my company could “promote” our products by banning our competitors. Sure would make things a lot easier on us.
With now a precedent of electing foreign-born people to the highest office in the state, is this our next Governor?
When you read this:
Bill Gates and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Wednesday that they would spend $500 million to stop people around the world from smoking.
The $500 million would be spent on a multipronged campaign — nicknamed Mpower — that Mr. Bloomberg and Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the health organization, outlined in February. It coordinates efforts by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, the World Health Organization, the World Lung Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the foundation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
You’d think that they’re donating $500M of their own money to a number of groups– boots on the ground– who are fighting to educate people around the world about the dangers of smoking. In fact, you’d laud them for getting out there and putting their money behind their beliefs, rather than simply offering mealy-mouthed statements about what other people should or shouldn’t do.
But when you read a little bit farther, you get a different picture:
It will urge governments to sharply raise tobacco taxes, prohibit smoking in public places, outlaw advertising to children and cigarette giveaways, start antismoking advertising campaigns and offer people nicotine patches or other help quitting. Health officials, consumer advocates, journalists, tax officers and others from third world countries will be brought to the United States for workshops on topics like lobbying, public service advertising, catching cigarette smugglers and running telephone help lines for smokers wanting to quit. A list of grants is at tobaccocontrolgrants.org.
It’s clear this has nothing to do with educating the third world. They’ve got a little more bang-for-the-buck in mind. Why try to change attitudes of current and potential smokers, educating them of the dangers of their habits, when you can change the attitudes of their ruling elite and take away their freedom to smoke? They’re using the fruits of their labor– in a country free enough to allow them to accumulate such– to entice local governments to use tax dollars and regulation to fight the scourge of personal choice.
In doing so, I’m reminded of a certain definition provided by our good friend Coyote, the definition of a modern activist:
Activist: A person who believes so strongly that a problem needs to be remedied that she dedicates substantial time to … getting other people to fix the problem. It used to be that activists sought voluntary help for their pet problem, and thus retained some semblance of honor. However, our self-styled elite became frustrated at some point in the past that despite their Ivy League masters degrees in sociology, other people did not seem to respect their ideas nor were they particularly interested in the activist’s pet issues. So activists sought out the double shortcut of spending their time not solving the problem themselves, and not convincing other people to help, but convincing the government it should compel others to fix the supposed problem. This fascism of good intentions usually consists of government taking money from the populace to throw at the activist’s issue, but can also take the form of government-compelled labor and/or government limitations on choice.
Mssrs. Gates & Bloomberg: It would be honorable to use your considerable wealth in an education campaign to persuade people to change their ways. It would even be honorable to use your fame as a “force multiplier”, recruiting other wealthy benefactors to join your quest. To use that wealth in an effort to reduce freedom across the globe, lobbying governments to force or artificially induce others to bend to your will, though, is nothing but a continuation of nanny statism through private means.
Hat Tip: The Agitator
Time has an ongoing series which advocates the need for “voluntary” national service. In the magazine’s latest article by Managing Editor Richard Stengel, the author praises both John McCain and Barack Obama for their urging of Americans to “serve interests greater than self.”
It is a unique moment for the idea of national service. You have two presidential candidates who believe deeply in service and who have made it part of their core message to voters. You have millions of Americans who are yearning to be more involved in the world and in their communities. You have corporations and businesses that are making civic engagement a key part of their mission.
If “millions of Americans” wish to be “more involved” in service to others and “their communities” what’s stopping them? Do we really need a President McCain or President Obama to
force “inspire” these Americans to serve their fellow Americans? Is their really a “volunteer” deficit?
In Stengel’s original article on this subject A Time to Serve he seems to suggest the opposite:
Polls show that while confidence in our democracy and our government is near an all-time low, volunteerism and civic participation since the ’70s are near all-time highs. Political scientists are perplexed about this. If confidence is so low, why would people bother volunteering? The explanation is pretty simple. People, especially young people, think the government and the public sphere are broken, but they feel they can personally make a difference through community service.
I fail to see the problem here. If people do not have confidence in the government, this is a very good thing*! Ordinary Americans are helping others on their own volition, not because some politician told them to do so.
Despite this seemingly positive news, this isn’t enough for Stengel:
[T]he way to keep the Republic — is universal national service. No, not mandatory or compulsory service but service that is in our enlightened self-interest as a nation. We are at a historic junction; with the first open presidential election in more than a half-century, it is time for the next President to mine the desire that is out there for serving and create a program for universal national service that will be his — or her — legacy for decades to come. It is the simple but compelling idea that devoting a year or more to national service, whether military or civilian, should become a countrywide rite of passage, the common expectation and widespread experience of virtually every young American.
Am I missing something here? How does a president “persuade” people who otherwise would not be inclined to national service without using some form of coercion? Toward the end of the article, Stengel offers a 10-point plan on how the next president should implement a national service agenda:
1. Create a National-Service Baby Bond (a.k.a. forced wealth distribution)
2. Make National Service a Cabinet-Level Department (a.k.a. taking money from citizens to pay for another Bureaucracy)
3. Expand Existing National-Service Programs Like AmeriCorps and the National Senior Volunteer Corps
4. Create an Education Corps
5. Institute a Summer of Service (a.k.a. teenagers serving the government to learn that all great things come from government)
6. Build a Health Corps (a.k.a. “volunteers” helping low income people access government healthcare programs which they are not already taking advantage of such as SCHIP)
7. Launch a Green Corps (similar to FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps but would improve infrastructure and combat climate change).
8. Recruit a Rapid-Response Reserve Corps (a.k.a. volunteers doing the job the National Guard traditionally does in the wake of natural disasters).
9. Start a National-Service Academy (a.k.a. a school to train government workers)
10. Create a Baby-Boomer Education Bond (a.k.a. forced wealth distribution).
In one way or another, every one of these proposals requires government to use force**. While this form of coercion is not as visible as directly “drafting” people into government service, make no mistake, coercion is still very much part of the equation.
To Time’s credit, the magazine did offer a counterpoint to Stengel’s article. Michael Kinsley calls B.S. on this whole notion of national service (particularly on the part of young people):
One of the comforts of middle age — a stage that the editor of TIME and I have both reached — is that you can start making demands on young people, safe in the knowledge that they won’t apply to you. Having safely escaped the Vietnam era draft ourselves, we are overcome by the feeling that the next generation should not be so lucky. Many of these young folks are volunteering for socially beneficial work, and that’s good. But it’s not good enough. “Volunteerism” is so wonderful that every young person should have to do it.
I’m perfectly prepared to believe that today’s young people are deplorable specimens, ignorant and ungrateful and in desperate need of discipline. Or I am also prepared to believe that they are about to burst with idealism like a piñata and only await somebody with a giant pin. But they aren’t the only ones who could use a lesson about social obligation. What about grownups? Grownups, who still have some hope of collecting Social Security and Medicare before they go broke, who have enjoyed the explosion in house prices that make the prospect of home ownership so dim for the next generation; who allowed the government to run up a gargantuan national debt, were miraculously bailed out of that, and immediately allowed it to be run up a second time; who may well have gone to college when tuition was cheap and you didn’t automatically graduate burdened by student loans. We are not in much of a position to start dreaming up lessons in social obligation for the kids.
As I pointed out in my last post, many people are in favor of “service” and “sacrifice” if it is being done by someone else. Kinsley also points out that the answer to serving the needs of others is good old fashioned Capitalism!***
Let’s be honest. If you really want to “serve your country/community/world,” again I ask you: What’s stopping you? Your level of service has not one thing to do with who occupies the White House at any given time.
California, in an attempt to fix the housing mess* by making houses less affordable by making you buy features you wouldn’t otherwise**, has announced new statewide building restrictions to go “green”.
From the Governator on down, nanny statists in California are more than willing to use force to make your life more expensive, and are quite happy to gloat about it the whole while:
Today, the California Building Standards Commission announced the unanimous adoption of the nation’s first statewide “green” building code. The code is a direct result of the Governor’s direction to the Commission and will lead to improved energy efficiency and reduced water consumption in all new construction throughout the state, while also reducing the carbon footprint of every new structure in California.
Unanimous? There’s nobody willing to step up and say “maybe we should let individuals decide how their houses should be built”? You can argue day in and day out whether building codes for safety purposes are a legitimate form of government coercion, but this is just nanny-state do-gooderism. It’s the logical next step to a government that won’t allow any market forces the freedom to develop the energy people want to use, so simply requires that they use less. Allowing market forces to price water, for example, might suggest to people that they should save water for their own sake. But government regulation artificially keeping water prices low means, of course, that they must either ration water, mandate regulation to reduce use through the building code, or both. Throwing bad government after bad? I’d say so.
“Once again California is leading the nation and the world in emissions reductions and finding new ways to expand our climate change efforts,” said Commission Chair Rosario Marin.
Sometimes being first is a good thing. Sometimes it’s not. Something tells me that increasing housing prices in a place like California, already far too expensive with other taxes and regulations (and market forces) for the average person to survive comfortably, will not end up helping the state.
“The commission should be commended for bringing everyone to the table including representatives of the construction and building trades industry, environmental groups and labor organizations, and achieving something no other state has been able to.”
“We railroaded this through in a bipartisan manner. Therefore it’s obvious that it’s futile to resist.”
The new California Green Building Standards Code goes well beyond the current building standards. These new statewide standards will result in significant improvements in water usage for both commercial and residential plumbing fixtures and target a 50 percent landscape water conservation reduction.
Plumbing fixtures? Better buy a plunger. Maybe even an auger when they get through with your house. Oh, and I hope you like Xeriscapes, because you’re going to see a lot more of them. (Again, this is a result of government artificially pricing water too low, and then enacting use restrictions that natural market forces could already have arranged).
They also push builders to reduce energy use of their structures by 15 percent more than today’s current standards.
Again, in many ways this is a good thing. But it’s not something that most people had deemed necessary to pay for in the past, or it wouldn’t need to be regulated.
They also push builders to reduce energy use of their structures by 15 percent more than today’s current standards.
I guess they thought this was really important to point out, since they repeated the sentence in the press release. Or perhaps they are just experts on “being green”, and not so much into the whole proofreading thing…
The new standards declare the minimum California will accept in environmentally friendly design – local jurisdictions and builders who wish to do more are applauded.
[clap clap clap]Yay, Berkeley! You go girl![/clap clap clap]
In addition to the new codes adopted today, Governor Schwarzenegger’s Green Building Initiative (Executive Order S-20-04) (http://gov.ca.gov/executive-order/3360/) directs state agencies to reduce energy use at state-owned buildings 20 percent by 2015, while also reducing the impact state buildings have on climate change.
Please tell me they’re going to do this by reducing quantity of state buildings and number of state employees by this much!
His executive order directs that new state construction and major renovation projects should meet a minimum of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification in order to save energy, conserve water, divert waste from landfills and cut greenhouse gas emissions. To date, 13 state buildings have achieved LEED certification.
I guess that’s the end of major renovation projects to state buildings. Oh, wait, they’re spending our money? Never mind.
And wow, 13 whole buildings so far? What size bucket does that drop fall into?
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings nationwide account for 70 percent of electricity consumption, 39 percent of energy usage, 12 percent of potable water consumption, 40 percent of raw materials usage, 30 percent of waste output (136 million tons annually), and produce 39 percent of associated greenhouse gases (CO2).
I thought I learned from the NRA that buildings don’t waste energy, people do. Up next, Washington DC outlaws private ownership of buildings!
California’s new building standards will result in increased water and energy savings through a combination of more efficient appliances, use of efficient landscapes and more efficient building design and operation.
Again, I’m sure they’re not doing anything to increase the efficiency of government.
The code also encourages the use of recycled materials in carpets and building materials, and identifies various site improvements including parking for hybrid vehicles and better storm water plans.
Hey, so you get primo parking for your 20 mpg Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, while the guy with the much more environmentally-friendly 36 mpg Honda Civic languishes at the back of the lot. I’ll bet he produces a lot less smug, too.
Additionally, the new code contains standards for single-family homes, health facilities and commercial buildings. The code is composed of optional standards that will become mandatory in the 2010 edition of the code. This adjustment period will allow for industry and local enforcement agencies to prepare for, and comply with, the new green building standards.
This is why the construction industry went along… Anyone with half a brain will be pushing for their construction to be complete by 2010! After all, what California really needs is MORE real estate being developed, because we don’t have quite enough of a surplus now!
Moving forward after 2010, the California Green Building Standards Code will be updated on an annual basis to ensure that the latest technology and methods of construction have been incorporated to always maintain a high level of standards.
And here’s the giveaway to lobbyists. Just think how much money is going to be spent at the state capital ensuring that pet technologies get implemented into the code. Oh, and I’m sure regulations that change yearly will require a lot more inspectors and training, another fun way to spend taxpayer money. Sacramento should be a boom town over the next few years.
For more than 20 years, the California Building Standards Commission has established California as an international leader in areas such as energy conservation, water conservation and seismic strengthening—resulting in some of the most efficient and sustainable buildings in the world.
Ahh, the final buzzword. “Sustainable.” As long as they keep taxes and regulation just shy of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, Sacramento’s economy should remain sustainable. But just imagine if the local government was trying to pull this sort of shit in a state without beautiful scenery and picturesque beaches… They’d call it Detroit.
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