In 1942 Warner Brothers released the movie The Man Who Came to Dinner. Based on the Broadway play by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, the film starred Monty Woolley and Bette Davis. (Side note: At the time the movie was released the studio was concerned that Woolley’s homosexuality would be too apparent on the screen. Silly, now studios are concerned when actors don’t appear gay enough. This is progress?)
The story line of the movie has an acerbic social critic and radio personality, Sheridan Whiteside (Woolley) traveling through the Midwest and agreeing to visit the home of a prominent Ohio businessman. Bette Davis plays his secretary. As Whiteside climbs the steps to the businessman’s home he slips on some ice, breaking his leg. He remains in the home, convalescing from his injury. During his stay, Whiteside takes over the home, ordering doctors, nurses, even the homeowners about with complete impunity. Of course, there is the not so veiled threat of a personal injury suit if the homeowners do not acquiesce. (A movie clearly ahead of its time in that regard.)
If this sounds familiar, it should. It’s a metaphor for government. When the government steps in, be it federal or state government, it takes charge. Here are a few examples:
Can’t we just eat what we want? Um, no. It’s not a bad thing when schools improve their lunch menu to include healthier options. They key word here is, of course, options. When it becomes mandatory to eat beets and carrots at school instead of what mom packs, that’s a problem. This past year we heard stories of some over-zealous Health and Human Services inspectors who were randomly “inspecting” lunch boxes of young school children. In one instance that made news headlines, a child’s lunchbox filled with a turkey and cheese sandwich, an apple, apple juice and chips were confiscated by the federal inspector. The child received chicken nuggets from the school cafeteria instead. The lunch from home was not, according the HHS brown shirt, er, food inspector, healthy enough. Turkey sandwich vs. chicken nuggets? My money is on mom and the turkey on this one. It wasn’t like the lunch consisted of only a few packs of sugar and a Red Bull. Perhaps, if the turkey sandwich had been packed in a Che Guevara sandwich bag, all would have been forgiven.
This actually is a function of the federal government, as has been routinely argued by the Obama administration. A while back the United States Customs and Border Patrol Agency proudly boasted on its website of the seizure of over 13,000 hair dryers from the Los Angeles and Miami ports. I’m not sure what the name of the operation was, perhaps it was called Frizzed and Furious. Apparently, the confiscated hair dryers lacked some safety component the Feds require. Without that safety component it’s possible the dryers could cause electric shock if caught in water. We can speculate that if they aren’t used as wave makers in the backyard pool chances of electric shock are greatly reduced. Besides, I’m fairly certain they already had the forty seven other required safety labels already plastered on them. You know, labels that inform the user not to attempt to unclog toilets or re-enact the Japanese tsunami during an actual tsunami.
It is a good thing these hair dryers were not smuggled in vans carrying illegal aliens. They never would have been found. Not only that, they would have qualified for in-state tuition and education grants under the Dream Act. Enough already!
Texting and Driving
Everybody has a smart phone, which means every teenager has one too. Lots of teenagers also drive cars. Teenagers believe they are both competent and indestructible. Regarding competency, a look at high school scores across the country might suggest otherwise. As for indestructibility, well, it is true that they don’t wake up with aches and pains, but that just means they haven’t lived long enough to suffer from the mistakes we made as teenagers. Just wait. But the feeling of competency and indestructibility can be a dangerous combination. What’s worse, some people never lose the feeling that they are both competent and indestructible. We call those people politicians. (See: John Edwards)
So, always willing to step into any situation and solve every problem, the federal and state governments are eager to provide a solution to the driving and texting problem that may be most prevalent among teenagers. Many states have strict limitations, if not outright bans, on texting while driving. Some completely outlaw the use of cell phones in cars, not just for the driver, but for the passenger as well. But, if they are serious, shouldn’t they instead outlaw the use of cars by teenagers? Very few people are killed by cell phones. Yes, I understand that does put an additional burden on parents to, well, act like parents and get their teens to school, practice, whatever. Get over it parents – be parents! Besides, I’m sure the government will find a solution to that problem that will be expensive, inefficient and ineffective – the governmental triple threat. That is, after all, how the government operates.
Curtice Mang is the author of the new book, The Constitution – I’m Not Kidding and Other Tales of Liberal Folly. He can be contacted at www.mangwrites.com, where one can also purchase his book; or contact Curtice at mangwrites at cox.net.