Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Big Brother Isn't Just Watching Anymore

This just in from the Czar, er…Mayor of New York City, His Honor Michael Bloomberg:

The newly proposed program called “Latch On NYC” will require city health officials to keep tabs on the number of bottles of baby formula that participating hospitals stock and use.  While new mothers won’t be completely denied access to baby formula, it will be stored in “out-of-the-way secure storerooms or in locked boxes like those used to dispense and track medications,” the NY Post reports.  With each bottle a mother requests and receives, she’ll be lectured on why breastfeeding is a better choice, and hospital staff will be asked to cite a medical reason for the dispensation of formula.  And then what…the new mother will be branded with a Scarlet F?

This isn’t anything new for the Mayor of the largest city in the nation.  He’s working on making law a plan to ban the sale of sugary soft drinks in quantities greater than sixteen ounces. But it is not just Mayor Bloomberg pushing the envelope of bigger and more intrusive government.  In San Francisco, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will be voting on whether to conduct a feasibility study on a tax on every mile people drive in their cars.  A GPS tracking device would be installed in each vehicle in order to assess the miles driven each tax period.    

We are well past the Orwellian days of Big Brother watching our every move.  For years now, there has hardly been a street corner or inch of public space in any decent-sized town or city that has not been covered by surveillance cameras.  We’ve grown accustomed to that in quick enough order.  Now government is moving past the realm of Big Brother.  Government is becoming Big Daddy.  And Daddy knows best.

The arguments in favor of these measures are all quite similar, and certainly not without merit.  Numerous studies have shown that breastfeeding a newborn is better for the child’s immune system than a formula-only diet.  The availability of forty ounce containers of sugar water certainly isn’t doing much for the health of the nation.  And global pollution and local traffic are worse than ever. 

But the real issue is actually none of these issues at all.  The real issue is how the vanguard of big government, under the guise of watching out for its citizens and society’s well being, has intruded deeper and deeper into our lives, our communities, our homes.  It is certainly not the first time government has taken on greater authority to be wielded under its own discretion.  Abraham Lincoln suspended the right of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War.  F.D.R. pushed through Congress one massive spending project after another during the Depression, pushing the country closer to true Socialism than at any time in its history.  And the Patriot Act passed by Congress after September 11, 2001 certainly has wrung the Bill of Rights dry of some of its protective juice.  But the difference in each of these cases is that they occurred in times of grave national emergency.  Like them or not, they were (and are, in the case of the Patriot Act), reactive and intended to be temporary.

The measures proposed by Bloomberg and the San Francisco MTC are part of a proactive and far more permanent expansion of government, one that will surely be just the first step in greater and greater intrusions into our lives.  This is just the vanguard, after all, and the vanguard operates decades ahead of popular consensus.  Plain and simple, this is not social policy, but social engineering.

Want an idea of where it is all headed?  Look to New York City again, where just a few months ago the Department of Education published an expanded list of words to be banned from its periodic assessment tests.  This was not the usual politically correct fare.  It was, to quote a department spokesperson: "standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years".  Included in the list of banned words and references: birthdays (possibly offensive to Jehovah's Witnesses); dinosaurs (suggesting evolution); divorce; death; Halloween; crime; homes with swimming pools or computers (offensive/distracting to students without one); any reference to religious and cultural celebrations and holidays; any reference to politics; war; references to specific cultural foods such as pepperoni (possibly offensive to those who do not partake)...and so on.  The Department of Education later retreated from this official stance, but as the spokesperson said, this is a language ban that publishers have been using for years.  And we didn't even know it.

So what is the vanguard of bigger, more authoritative government pushing for at the most fundamental levels, instructing the next generations to march forward with as the lens through which they view society and the world?  It is not diversity and the acceptance of all cultures, races, religions, etc.  It is a world without cultures, races, religions.  At the end of that educational arc is not equality, but sameness.  Conformity.  The loss of individual identity.

With Big Daddy knowing what is best for us all.

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