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Friday, June 26, 2009

How far will government have to encroach on the lives of private individuals before people begin to raise their voices and say "enough"? New York City seems dedicated to finding this answer.

NYC has decided to legislate the morality of its citizenry by fining anyone hogging seats or sitting in seats reserved for the handicapped or elderly. Fines range from $25-50 and can include up to 10 days in jail. However, this legislation strikes at a growing problem, pointed out by Walter E. Williams:

Today, in some cities there are ordinances requiring public conveyances to set aside seats posted "Senior Citizen Seating." Laws have replaced common decency.
We do not need laws to mandate the "appropriate" way to live our lives. Laws do not form our cultural values and mores. However, if the government's encroachment continues, these laws just may shape our values to ones more compatible with liberty and freedom.

Of course, NYC did not stop there. The city's health department is pushing to mandate large anti-smoking signs posted at eye-level in all of the city's 12,000 cigarette retailers. According to Sarah B. Perl, assistant commissioner for tobacco control, "It can be effective to display gruesome health effects such as amputations and throat cancer."

By this logic, we should look forward to the city's next measures:
  1. Pictures of horrific car wrecks and victims of alcohol poisoning at alcohol retailers.
  2. Photos of bankrupt and homeless individuals at lottery retailers.
Oh, wait...the state wouldn't want to deter gambling through the lottery system, since they reap the profits.

In Pennsylvania, where the state controls both the lottery and all alcohol sales, Joe Conti, chief executive officer of the PA Liquor Control Board has spent $3.7 million to develop a new name for the state-owned liquor stores. He compared the rebranding to the Pennsylvania State Lottery’s cute and cuddly mascot, Gus the groundhog. Apparently, “Wines & Spirits” is far too appropriate and not misleading enough for Mr. Conti.

When private companies use cute animals on potentially hazardous products (remember Camel cigarettes?), they’re obviously trying to encourage a younger audience. However, when a state monopoly does the same thing, it’s simply an attempt to “maximize our returns for the people of Pennsylvania.”

Posted by Eleutherian

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