Politics & Policy

Big Nannies of the Year

God save us from more busybody bipartisanship in 2011.

It was a nefarious year for nettlesome busybodies employed by the Nanny State. Here are the top power-grabbers of 2010 — those who just can’t leave us alone:

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg

Two feet of snow paralyzed trains, buses, snowplows, 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 responsibilities 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.

#ad#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 suburb-dwellers into public transportation. Then America’s driving czar floated a plan to disable cell phones in automobiles. 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 snooping trash cans — “smart” rubbish bins bugged with electronic identification chips and bar codes to monitor residents’ recycling habits. Violators could be fined $100. Federal stimulus money has gone to fund a similar program in Dayton, Ohio. The technology originated in Germany, was adopted by eco-authoritarians in England (where at least 500,000 trash cans now have snitch chips embedded in them), and has spread across Europe. Welcome to the age of Bin Brother.

The city of San Francisco

The board of supervisors recently took the “happy” out of McDonald’s Happy Meals by forbidding all restaurants to offer toys with children’s meals that exceed limits on calories, fat, salt, and sugar. Even the mayor of the People’s Republic of San Francisco opposes this 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 to soda pop. This summer, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order banning 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 get a boost. 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 been able to keep their doctors and coverage only because their employers, unions, or health-care providers begged the feds for special waivers. Heckuva job, health bureaucrats.

#page#First lady Michelle Obama and former governor Mike Huckabee

Mrs. Obama first played the childhood-obesity card in September 2009, as a rationale for using her office to crusade for taxpayer subsidies for the Olympics bid of her hometown, Chicago. 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 breakfasts and lunches, the kiddie-food patrol is now pushing subsidized dinners and summer food service to create a “stronger nutrition safety net.”

#ad#Nanny State Republican Mike Huckabee, who used his bully pulpit 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’s 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.

— Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies. © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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