PJ Media

Clinging to My Guns, Salt, and Light Bulbs

I recently, along with my husband, took the class that is required in my state to obtain a handgun permit. According to the instructor where we took the class, business hasn’t been so good since the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Once I file the necessary paperwork, I expect that I’ll be able to purchase my firearm within the next couple of months.

Now I’m not necessarily expecting to have to use my handgun once I obtain it, as I am fortunate to live in an area where violent crime is rare. (The last murder in my town took place almost 25 years ago, and was a shocking anomaly to the norm.) But many people are worried that after he takes office, Obama will do his best to support and ultimately enact legislation that makes it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights. It’s more of a statement than anything else. Plus, target shooting is fun.

As the instructor at the gun shop said, “Meanwhile, criminals will continue to be able to get their guns.”

But it’s not just Second Amendment rights that Americans should be worried about, and it’s not just President-elect Obama whom Americans should be worried about when it comes to the infringement of our rights — Congress and smaller state and city governments all have their fat, grubby fingers in the pie as well.

Take, for instance, New York City Mayor Mike “Nanny” Bloomberg’s latest attempt to micromanage his constituents. Having already banned smoking in public places and the use of trans fats by restaurants within city limits, Bloomberg now wants to “reduce the salt in processed food by 20 percent over the next five years.”

No wonder he’s looking to skirt the two-term limit approved by the voters — he’s not done yet telling them how to live their lives. Mary Poppins added a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, but she too would probably be in Bloomberg’s sights, as he may be planning to cut sugar out of your diet as well as salt and fat.

What’s next for New Yorkers? Cutting out certain foods entirely? Could it be goodbye to fried chicken? Donuts? Pastrami sandwiches? The carts that sell hot dogs, salted pretzels, and potato knishes on nearly every corner? When it comes to nanny staters, you never know what’s next on the hit list. Hey, one town council in Britain decided that the salt shakers at chip shops had an overabundance of holes, meaning customers could put too much salt on their food. This just wouldn’t do. So they decided to spend a couple of thousand taxpayer pounds on new and improved salt shakers with only five holes, compared to the traditional 17, and gave them out free to shops. One chip shop owner reported that “people will just put on more salt if they want more. In fact, we have had some people unscrewing the lids to do so.”

You just can’t make this stuff up. What’s next, assigning a salt monitor to each restaurant to dole out salt portions? Don’t laugh.

Certainly there is a problem here in America when it comes to diet and exercise. Thanks to modern technology, we not only have an overabundance of inexpensive food, but we’ve become a largely sedentary society. The obvious good comes with a price to pay. But does the answer really lie in relieving individuals of their personal responsibility in the choices they make? Should government bureaucrats who “know better” than you do have that much power over your life?

Not long ago, I saw a couple of specials on TLC: Half Ton Mom and Half Ton Dad. The first was about Renee, who weighed nearly 900 pounds, and the second about Kenneth, who weighed over 1,000 pounds. Both were bedridden for years and both managed to get gastric bypass surgery as a desperate last resort — even though many doctors tend to shy away from the risk of operating on such large patients. Sadly, Renee died of cardiac arrest two weeks after the procedure — a risk she knew she was taking — but Kenneth made it through and after spending five months in the hospital being treated was able to go home after having lost about half of his weight. Did he manage to take the rest of the weight off? I don’t know. I wish him well.

While the shows did shed light on a disturbing trend, I sensed an underlying agenda by the producers. Highlighted was the fact that lower-income families often eat at fast food restaurants because the food is cheap and plentiful — and that fast food is a billion-dollar industry. In other words, blame McDonald’s and Popeye’s, but not the people walking in to buy the food. Legumes and brown rice are also cheap and plentiful, as well as being the complex carbohydrates that nutritionists tell us to eat instead of simple carbs like pasta and bread, but these foods don’t seem to be part of the problem. It’s apparent that many people lack basic nutrition skills. Yet again, is it government’s duty to remedy the problem by placing restrictions on what we eat? I don’t claim to have the answer to the growing problem of morbidly obese people, but the idea of limiting personal freedom in exchange for the government taking care of yet another problem is not one I care to contemplate. After all, Congress decided it knew what it was doing when it came to handling the mortgage industry — and look where that got us.

Where else have government bureaucrats decided they know more than you do? Light bulbs. In the name of saving the Earth, Congress passed legislation last year banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs by the end of 2014. Australia has us beat — they have set the deadline for 2010. Instead of the bulb created by Thomas Edison that has served us well for over 100 years, we’ll have to use CFL bulbs. In addition to the safety hazard they present upon disposal due to the small amount of mercury in each one, they give off less light than the incandescent bulb.

My stepfather, who does not like bright light and who likes to save a buck or two, has used these bulbs for years. But I would rather pay a few more dollars on my electric bill if it means actually being able to see what I read, write, and eat. Otherwise, I might as well resort to candlelight, which is much more pleasing to the eye than the sickly greenish hue cast by CFLs.

Besides, as this writer for American Thinker has pointed out, the energy saved by banning incandescent bulbs is insignificant compared to the other big-energy-ticket items we use — dishwashers, computers, big screen TVs, and Internet servers. He also notes that

CFL light bulbs have been around for well over a decade. Only recently have they come in enough varieties and flavors to capture about 10% of the available sockets. But they are still at least five times more expensive than regular incandescents, which if replaced in their entirety would cost consumers an extra $4 to 5 billion at the cash register. No doubt millions of Americans will enthusiastically embrace this new technology and be willing to pay extra to get it.

But millions more will not fare so well. This ban will be a tax on poor people and the silent majority — retirees on fixed incomes, single working parents, low-wage earners working double shifts or two jobs, along with the average Joes and Marys who live each week paycheck to paycheck. They don’t have cable TV to watch the Home and Garden Channel, and can’t afford to replace their functional if drab table lamp fixtures, much less employ a green ideology-toting residential lighting designer.

Another point worth noting in the article linked above is that no CFLs are produced in the U.S., only in China — and China will need to build more coal-powered plants in order to meet the upcoming demand. Remember, coal-powered plants are among the no-nos with radical environmentalists and our incoming administration. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater! This is yet another example of the old adage that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

As I said earlier, I don’t pretend to have all of the answers to these and many other problems. But I sure as heck know that government doesn’t have all the answers either — and if history is any indication, it will likely make things worse with its meddling. In the meantime, I’ll keep clinging to my gun and my incandescent light bulbs — the ones I’ve begun hoarding in anticipation of the upcoming ban. Who knows? Maybe they’ll become such a rare and sought-after commodity that people will be willing to pay big bucks for them.

Hey, I have to replenish my shrinking 401(k) somehow.