by Chris Shugart
Freudian psychoanalysis doesn’t ordinarily figure into my vocabulary. But in this case I think “anal retentive” best describes Senator Barbara Boxer’s recent introduction of Senate Bill 2047. It’s called Protecting Children From Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act of 2014. The name says it all. When it comes to obsessive-compulsive micromanagement, the nanny-staters could fill the case loads of every therapist in Washington. And they never run out of ways to inflict their neurosis onto their victims.
Supporters of the bill are convinced that E-cigarettes are a gateway to real cigarettes. Naturally, they insist that there needs to be a new law to thwart this new health threat. Meddling bureaucrats are unable to operate any other way. All potential danger, great and small must be addressed with legislation. If they could have it their way, the world would be one big tamper-proof aspirin bottle.
Like all bad laws conceived in Washington, SB 2047 is vague and would be difficult to enforce. In 2012 a federal court knocked down a ban on colorful billboards and print ads for conventional cigarettes as being “vastly overbroad.” But that never stops big-government buttinskis. Their insatiable desire to ban, regulate, and tax all that they see is wired into their political DNA.
I don’t want to overlook the voters’ complicity in this. There’s an additional factor apart from mere bureaucratic pathos. We have a constituency of citizens who’ve bought into the idea that their representatives have the means, wisdom, and ability to keep us safe from harm in any circumstance imaginable. And I’m not even convinced that Boxer and her supporters are all that concerned about keeping people safe. It does make for an attractive political posture that keeps their voters under the illusion that their government is looking out for them 24/7.
Whether you’re in the workplace or in the home, safety consciousness is always a responsible attitude. Sensible people will take care and caution any time it’s warranted. It’s part of everyday ordinary life. Why make a federal case out of it? In the interest of genuine child safety, perhaps we should be more concerned with who’s going to protect the children from Barbara Boxer.