Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

New York Archive



October 2012



Overgovernment: Regulatory Racket Edition

Written by , Posted in Big Government, The Nanny State & A Regulated Society

New York continues to lead the way down the path toward tyranny, with petty bureaucrats running up to any business they can find and saying “That’s a fine small business you have there, shame if something were to ‘appen to it:”

The city continues to blitz merchants with ridiculous fines — raking in cash for scuffed cutting boards, too-short napkins and failure to recognize the medicinal properties of ChapStick.

“It’s not about protecting the consumer or the food. This is a money racket for the city,” said Declan Morrison, owner of Blackwater Inn in Forest Hills, Queens.

A Health Department inspector recently spent several hours looking for ticket-worthy violations, before spotting five thermometers in the pub’s refrigerator.

“The inspector said, ‘This is way too many thermometers,’ and docked me points,” said Morrison, who also owns the nearby Tap House.

But on paper, the offense read, “Accurate thermometer not provided,” a fine of $300. The charge was later dropped, but Morrison said he has forked over about $20,000 in fines in the past year.

…Leslie Barnes, owner of London Lennie’s in Queens, said he was fined $300 for having too many marks on his cutting boards. Now he spends $2,000 on backup boards each year.

Consumer Affairs Department inspectors charged a Ditmas Park barber $650 this year for using an antique register that didn’t print receipts and for posting different prices for men’s and women’s haircuts.

Can we end now the fiction that large regulatory states exist to protect the people? They do not. They exist to enrich the coffers and enhance the power of government officials.

This sort of behavior is nothing more than legalized gangsterism – pay your masters or something bad will happen to you. It has no place in a free society.



July 2012



Overgovernment: Nanny Knows Breast Edition

Written by , Posted in Big Government, Health Care, Welfare & Entitlements, The Nanny State & A Regulated Society

I could probably populate this blog entirely with the stupid things Nanny Bloomberg does if I so wanted. His latest outrageous policy is to hide baby formula from new mothers in an effort to force them to breast feed:

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg is locking up the baby formula, because he wants newborns to drink breast milk instead.

He’s using his mayoral power to direct maternity-ward nurses to hide baby-milk formula after Sept. 2 so that new moms feel pressured to provide breast milk to their newborns.

Bloomberg’s mammary-mandate is supported by white-coated public-health officials, who say the scientific data shows that mothers’ milk aids infants’ digestive systems and shields them from some diseases.

His wishes are law because he controls much of the city’s health network in a city-wide version of Obamacare.

Thus illustrates a central problem with granting government control over health care, which is that it gives government the power to throw its weight around when it comes to the most intimate and personal of decisions.

As with most things, there are both pros and cons to breast-feeding, and no one but the individual mother should have any say in the matter. But as usual Nanny Bloomberg thinks he knows breast… er, best.



July 2012



Overgovernment: Sad Feet Edition

Written by , Posted in The Courts, Criminal Justice & Tort, The Nanny State & A Regulated Society

The latest edition of Overgovernment comes from, big surprise, the People’s Republic of Michael Bloombergistan New York, where dancing is a criminal offense:

It was nearly midnight when Stern and Hess, a film-industry prop master, headed home last July from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing. As they waited for the train, a musician started playing steel drums on the nearly empty platform and Stern and Hess began to feel the beat.

“We were doing the Charleston,” Stern said. That’s when two police officers approached and pulled a “Footloose.”

“They said, ‘What are you doing?’ and we said, ‘We’re dancing,’ ” she recalled. “And they said, ‘You can’t do that on the platform.’ ”

…When Hess began trying to film the encounter, things got ugly, Stern said.

“We brought out the camera, and that’s when they called backup,” she said. “That’s when eight ninja cops came from out of nowhere.”

Hess was allegedly tackled to the platform floor, and cuffs were slapped on both of them. The initial charge, according to Stern, was disorderly conduct for “impeding the flow of traffic.”

“There was nobody on the platform. There were, like, three people,” she said.

The charges, including resisting arrest, were later dropped. The couple has filed a Manhattan federal court suit against the city for unspecified damages.

“If you are surrounded by good musicians, that’s going to make you want to dance,” Stern said. “The musician who is playing is legal, but . . . we’re illegal?”

After you have consumed your government allowed allotment of sugary soda, you may only slowly shuffle back to your domicile of origin. Remember, Nanny Bloomberg is watching.



February 2012



Gun-Grabbing Nannies Invade Super Bowl XLVI

Written by , Posted in Gun Rights

In case you weren’t watching the game, here’s the commercial in question:

The two mayoral gun-grabbers start off by claiming that both support the 2nd Amendment, proof once again that the easiest way to tell when a politician is lying is to notice when their lips are moving. But the idea that Bloomberg, perhaps the single biggest nanny in the country, is a supporter of the Second Amendment is laughably absurd.

Just recently I highlighted a story so egregious – a shop owner being fined $30,000 for stocking six obviously fake toy guns – that I simply declared the entire state to be hoplophobic. This might have been hyperbole, but it’s certainly true of Bloomberg and his city. New York City has a track record of gun hysterics, and recently threw the book at a marine and Iraq War veteran who attempted to check his legally owned gun at the Empire State Building . Nanny-in-Chief Bloomberg’s prosecutors think he deserves 3 years in jail for the horrible offense of bringing a legally purchased and owned gun into the People’s Republic of New York. The man has an irrational, nonsensical fear of guns, and will stop at nothing to eliminate our Constitutional right to posses them.

Update: According to DHS, this post makes me a “militia extremist.”



January 2012



Overgovernment: Hoplophobia Edition

Written by , Posted in Gun Rights

Hoplophobia is the irrational fear of firearms. It is a term which describes accurately the mental derangement exhibited by the state of New York, and in particular by New York’s Supreme Dictator for Life Michael Bloomberg, regarding any issue remotely related to guns:

The owner of a discount store in Brooklyn says the city is holding him up for $30,000 in fines he can’t afford — all because he stocked six toy sheriff sets that included plastic guns.

And now the .44-caliber fines for the orange-tipped, obvious fakes are forcing him to close for good.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Khaled Mohamed, 23, manager of 99¢ Target in Flatlands, which has been ordered to pay a staggering $5,000 fine for each gun offered for sale — the maximum under the law.

New York is a classic example of what happens when a population becomes overgoverned.



August 2011



Overgovernment: Sippy Cup Edition

Written by , Posted in Big Government, The Nanny State & A Regulated Society

That sippy cup in your child’s mouth may be dangerous! Well, no, not really. But you might be filling it with non-government approved liquids, and we can’t have that, now can we? New York doesn’t think so, anyway (Hat-tip: OpenMarket):

The Legislature, for the second year in a row, approved a measure requiring baby bottles and sippy cups to have warning labels about the dangers of childhood tooth decay.

Ex-Gov. David Paterson vetoed last year’s measure.

“I can show you photos of children who go to bed with sippy cups,” said Mark Feldman, executive director of the state Dental Association, which pressed for the bill.

“All you see is little black stumps that is all that is left of the teeth,” he added.

If only the statists would turn their eyes to the dangers of overgovernment. I can see it now, statehouses all across the land forced to display giant warning labels: “Warning, meddlesome legislators may produce freedom decay!”




January 2011



States War on Business

Written by , Posted in Big Government, Economics & the Economy, Free Markets, Taxes, The Nanny State & A Regulated Society

Why any entrepreneur would try to make a living for themselves in a state like New York or Illinois is beyond me. Maybe it’s just because I’ve never really gotten the allure of big cities, but why would anyone subject themselves to the rule of such petty bureaucratic tyrants?  The big government regulatory states have no respect for those seeking to earn a living, so not find somewhere that does?  Take this story:

…”They told us we had to move or we’d be towed,” Loera explained as the cops rigged the food truck to the tow truck.

They gave Paty’s truck a $55 summons saying it was not allowed to sell merchandise from a metered spot, Loera said. His mother, Patricia Monroy, who does not speak English, made the ultimate decision to stay put once her family translated what the cops were saying.

“My mother felt like she was not breaking the law,” Loera said. “We still had 45 minutes on the meter.”

…Loera had reached out to the Street Vendor Project after his Nov. 30 arrest, and members of the organization joined Paty’s for Tuesday’s return to raise awareness on issues vendors face: harassment from law enforcement and city offices, a harsh ticketing system and excessive punishment and regulations confusing to vendors and cops alike.

But no one anticipated the towing.

“Even if they were breaking parking rules — and I don’t think they were because I don’t think food is merchandise — that’s why they get a ticket. But that’s not a worth a tow,” Basinski said.

…The food truck was careful to follow parking rules, Loera said. It arrived on the Upper East Side about 10:15 a.m., changing spots about 11 a.m. and again an hour later.

Loera and his mother, who was tearing as the truck was being towed, hopped in a cab to follow it. They did not want a repeat of the last towing, when all of their perishables and other items — including its generator — had been removed from the truck, Loera said.

After they paid the $370 to get their truck back in November, they had to take out a $5,000 loan so they could restart the business that provides the livelihood for six families, Loera said.

And what was the basis of the complaints against the truck?

Paty’s had faced the ire of several residents on Community Board 8, who complain about food trucks in the area. They worry the trucks are illegally hogging metered parking spots and that they are unfairly competing with struggling brick-and-mortar stores.

Hogging metered spots? I’m sorry, but weren’t they paying for them just like anyone else? If the prices aren’t reflecting market value, then raise them. But there’s no basis to complain about people who are paying those prices. Unfair competition? Unfair that they made products that people wanted more than other products? How dare they!

Silly immigrants, they thought they were coming to America because it was free, but there’s no place in America for earning an honest living by providing services that people want. If you aren’t working for the government, your work isn’t legitimate.

Other states, like Illinois, are content to just tax their business into leaving. Some states understand the incentives created by tax and spend policies run amok. Take this statement by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker:

Wisconsin is open for business. In these challenging economic times while Illinois is raising taxes, we are lowering them. On my first day in office I called a special session of the legislature, not in order to raise taxes, but to open Wisconsin for business. Already the legislature is taking up bills to provide tax relief to small businesses, to create a job-friendly legal environment, to lessen the regulations that stifle growth and to expand tax credits for companies that relocate here and grow here. Years ago Wisconsin had a tourism advertising campaign targeted to Illinois with the motto, ‘Escape to Wisconsin.’ Today we renew that call to Illinois businesses, ‘Escape to Wisconsin.’ You are welcome here. Our talented workforce stands ready to help you grow and prosper.

The Associated Press, on the other hand, sneers at the idea that high taxes will drive anyone out of Illinois (Hat-tip: Tax Foundation):

But economic experts scoffed at images of highways packed with moving vans as businesses leave Illinois. Income taxes are just one piece of the puzzle when businesses decide where to locate or expand, they said, and states should be cooperating instead trying to poach jobs from one another.

It’s true that taxes are just one piece of the puzzle, but it’s not like Illinois has paired its high tax policies with a business-friendly regulatory regime. Nor is this a small change, as Illinois has moved from the 21st to the 46th highest corporate tax rates among states. I’ll ignore for now the assertion that states should not be competing to produce good policy, and point out instead this story (Hat-tip: Reason):

The founder of Jimmy John’s said he has applied for Florida residency and may recommend that his corporate headquarters move out-of-state as a result of the Illinois tax increases enacted last week.

Jimmy John Liautaud told The News-Gazette on Tuesday that he is angry about the moves, which boosted the individual income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent and the corporate income tax from 7.3 percent to 9.5 percent.

“All they do is stick it to us,” he said, adding that the Legislature and governor showed “a clear lack of understanding.”

A lack of understanding apparently shared by the alleged economists unearthed by AP.

Is it any wonder why these states are economic and fiscal basket cases?



July 2010



LeBron's Migration Mirrors That Of The Broader Public

Written by , Posted in Economics & the Economy, Taxes

Basketball is not my sport of choice, so I had no vested interest in the outcome of the recent drama surrounding LeBron James.  Even though I still consider Florida my home state, I don’t care that he’s chosen to play in Miami.  I am, however, struck by the degree to which LeBron’s decision mirrors that of so many ordinary Americans and businesses.  Namely, I note that he’s spurned high tax jurisdictions for income-tax free Florida.

Obviously, LeBron made his decision on more than just economic factors, though it’s fair to say that pay and other monetary factors mattered to some degree.  Although the sports community narrative involves James joining basketball super stars Wayne and Bosh – as well as some cries about the fairness of this team construction – the fact that all came together in Florida shouldn’t come as any surprise.  From 1999-2008, more Americans have migrated to the zero-income-tax-having Sunshine State than any other.  Meanwhile, the other states involved in the LeBron saga – Ohio, Illinois and New York – are 3 of the bottom 6 in net migration, with more Americans fleeing New York than any other state in the union.

These patterns should not come as any surprise when you contrast Florida’s lack of an income tax with the top marginal rates of Ohio (7.93%), Illinois (3.0%) and New York (12.62%).  But perhaps more importantly is the degree to which businesses are motivated by the same considerations.  Corporate taxes and regulatory environments shape corporate decisions every day, with states like New York and California increasingly driving businesses away as they look for more favorable environments.  This kind of tax competition is an important check on bad government policy, but it can be painful when you’re in one of the states being driven into the ground by short-sighted politicians.  While LeBron James just might have considered these factors in his decision, that ordinary Americans and businesses do is without question – and the consequences for high tax jurisdictions are as clear as Cleveland’s outrage.



June 2009



Supply Side Cuts Come To…Maine?

Written by , Posted in Taxes

I guess miracles do happen:

This month the Democratic legislature and Governor John Baldacci broke with Obamanomics and enacted a sweeping tax reform that is almost, but not quite, a flat tax. The new law junks the state’s graduated income tax structure with a top rate of 8.5% and replaces it with a simple 6.5% flat rate tax on almost everyone. Those with earnings above $250,000 will pay a surtax rate of 0.35%, for a 6.85% rate. Maine’s tax rate will fall to 20th from seventh highest among the states. To offset the lower rates and a larger family deduction, the plan cuts the state budget by some $300 million to $5.8 billion, closes tax loopholes and expands the 5% state sales tax to services that have been exempt, such as ski lift tickets.

This is a big income tax cut, especially given that so many other states in the Northeast and East — Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — have been increasing rates. “We’re definitely going against the grain here,” Mr. Baldacci tells us. “We hope these lower tax rates will encourage and reward work, and that the lower capital gains tax [of 6.85%] brings more investment into the state.”

While liberals in New York do everything they can to drive wealth out of the state, Maine seems to have this crazy idea that attracting wealth and investment might be a wiser strategy.  Which state do you think will get the best of it?



May 2009



Incentives (Still) Matter

Written by , Posted in Taxes

Tom Galisano, billionaire owner of the Sabres, is fed up and ready to leave New York.  He tells us why:

I love New York. But how much should it cost to call New York home? Decades of out of control budgets, spending increases and relentless borrowing have made New York simply too expensive.

Politicians like to talk about incentives: incentives for businesses to relocate, incentives to buy local and incentives to make smart decisions. After reviewing the 2009 budget I have identified the most compelling incentive of all: a major tax break immediately available to all New Yorkers. To be eligible, you need only do one thing: move out of New York State.

Modern economic thought provides with a very simple explanation: incentives matter. Russel Roberts on incentives:

…Incentives matter. The most famous example in economics is the idea of the demand curve—when something gets more expensive, people buy less of it. When it gets less expensive, people buy more of it.

Some find this bedrock principle of economics hard to accept, based on introspection. “When the price of gas goes up, I still buy gasoline,” says the skeptic. Or in its more extreme form: “You need gasoline, so people will keep buying it even when it gets more expensive.”

You may still buy gasoline when it gets more expensive. But you will try and find ways to buy less. Not necessarily zero, less.

For the wealthy, the price of living in New York has just gone up.  The predictable consequence is that there will be less wealthy people choosing to “purchase” the privilege to live there.