America is witnessing a growing acceptance of the relegation of our founding principles at every level of government. Big government ideals are seeping into even the most conservative ranks disguised within seemingly worthwhile causes.
But we must not allow ourselves to be duped into a sense of security; we risk losing our freedoms. Such will be the case if a few measures take shape in the coming Legislative session.
Call me a Grinch if you want to but here’s three potential bills that I hope never see the light of day in the Mississippi legislature:
1) Statewide smoking ban
Mississippi already has a ban on smoking in public places – ‘public’ meaning taxpayer owned and maintained properties. Expanding the ban into private establishments such as restaurants and office buildings can only be described as an overreach of principled governance.
Why the Mississippi State Department of Health continues to be allowed to engage in this campaign is beyond me. The Legislature needs to pull their funding, not enact a smoking ban on private properties.
As Ronald Reagan once said, “One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project.”
Cities around the state have already enacted such misguided bans. As I wrote in a recent piece on this issue, “I understand the temptation of public officials to pander to such bureaucratic whims, to act out of personal preference or public affirmation instead of principled governance. But these cities and their elected officials are contributing to the erosion of individual responsibility and freedom of choice that is increasingly becoming the norm in 21st century America. We must reverse this trend.”
2) Internet sales tax
Governor Haley Barbour and the Clarion Ledger editorial board rarely agree but on the issue of implementing an internet sales tax the two recently found common ground.
Proponents of this tax point to fairness as the overriding reason to support it. They say that store front businesses are at a disadvantage since they have to collect sales tax and internet companies not located in Mississippi do not.
The notion has many lawmakers and revenue watchers seeing dollar signs in what continues to be a tough economic climate.
On the surface this may sound plausible, yet conservatives should be wary of any measure that raises taxes while using for its justification ‘fairness’ and that seeks to resolve a ‘disadvantage.’
As Reagan said, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
What happened to free markets and competition? Conservatives should not compromise these core principles out of want for more tax revenue and under the guise of ‘fairness.’
3) Drivers’ cell phone ban
Columnist Mona Charen summed up my opposition to a drivers cell phone ban that would include talking and texting in a recent syndicated piece.
“The NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) is panicking about cell phones. Yet another report from the NHTSA (there are so many) issued earlier this month found that only five percent of drivers have been observed holding cell phones to their ears while driving, and only .9 percent were seen to be ‘manipulating’ a hand-held device.
“People do other stupid things behind the wheel, including but definitely not limited to eating, arguing with passengers, petting their dogs and writing government safety recommendations.
“There would be zero traffic fatalities if we simply banned cars. But the freedom and conveniences are seen to outweigh the cost in lost lives. Preventing the (perhaps) three percent of traffic fatalities caused by cell phones is nanny statism at its worst.”
For freedom’s sake, if these bills are dropped for consideration I do hope these measures die in whatever committee they are assigned to come January.
Additionally, the Legislature should reverse another misguided ban it imposed in recent years – the pseudoephedrine ban. Again, the intent was admirable, to curb the misuse of the product and combat illegal drug use. However, the result of the new law has been the loss of sales tax revenue for cold medicines (people drive across the Alabama state line for relief), as well as increasing medical expenditures on the backs of financially strapped, law abiding citizens who now must visit a doctor for a prescription which increases insurance claims and ultimately a variety of other out-of-pocket expenses. Such is the result of an overzealous law making body acting out of good intentions but not sound, principled governance.
We must remember that government cannot solve all of society’s ills, nor should it try. We should never compromise our principles or seek temporary security at the cost of our American freedoms.
Or as Benjamin Franklin put it, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
On these points, I’m glad to be called a Grinch…