From a recent column by Jonah Goldberg:

The New York Post recently compiled a list of the things that the New York City Council tried to ban not all successfully just in 2006 alone.

The list: pit bulls; trans fats; aluminum baseball bats; the purchase of tobacco by 18- to 20-year-olds; foie gras; pedicabs in parks; new fast-food restaurants (but only in poor neighborhoods); lobbyists from the floor of council chambers; lobbying city agencies after working at the same agency; vehicles in Central and Prospect parks; cell phones in upscale restaurants; the sale of pork products made in a processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., because of a unionization dispute; mail-order pharmaceutical plans; candy-flavored cigarettes; gas-station operators adjusting prices more than once daily; Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus; Wal-Mart.

NYC really leads the way in trying to infuse government control into all aspects of the private citizen (with San Francisco a strong number two). It's come to this: if someone doesn't like something, then it's banned. It seems like the more liberal the city, the less rights one seems to have. The focus is on the negative rights - what one can't do because it may harm, inconvenience, anger, insult, or isolate someone - instead of the positive rights - what are one can do; yes there are still some of those around. Regulating the harmful may be all well and good and with good intent but when government, at any level, wishes to regulate whether an adult can buy tobacco or whether someone cannot use a cell phone, that reduces government to a sinecure; it has no more useful function yet it still takes our money. Government has no business regulating actions that merely inconvenience or anger someone. Let the restaurant ban the cell phone. Let the paying customer decide if the circus is bad for animals.

Ironically, many people want the citizenry to live like the animals in a circus - free meals, free housing, free health care, being watched night and day, yet they only see the harm it causes the animals, not the people.

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