Dallas Finds New Ways To Screw Small Business Owners

The backstory: In March of last year, the City of Dallas passed an ordinance allowing cabs that are powered by natural gas to jump the line at Love Field. The city council voted unanimously for this change, a change that clearly positions the government in a place to make market decisions.

Current: Independent cab drivers are currently striking during the Super Bowl because they see the ordinance as discriminatory and unfair. Independent cab drivers are more likely to be negatively affected by decisions such as these because they do not have the capital or ability to buy a new car that conforms with the requirements of the ordinance. Cab drivers are encountering days where they might not ever get to pick up a passenger at Love Field because large cab companies vehicles that are powered by natural gas are jumping the line so frequently. Large cab companies do have the resources to change their cars and therefore are largely benefited by a decision like this.

One would think that in a conservative state like Texas, our local government might be more friendly to small and independent business owners but the creep of government oversight continues to strengthen even here in ways that are almost unfathomable. The net effects on the environment from an ordinance such as this are almost certainly minuscule. I don’t see any reason for an ordinance like this other than the benefits the politicians involved might receive from both large cab companies and natural gas producers. Oddly, this isn’t even illegal as a federal judge upheld the ordinance in September after the independent cab owners challenged it.

It’s sickening that in the economic environment we find ourselves in, our local government is doing things that specifically and directly have a negative effect on our small business owners. It’s shocking to me that this wouldn’t have more impact on the polls but then, when I didn’t even see it for 11 months, it probably isn’t getting much coverage. Eventually, the complexity of our government will cause it to collapse in on itself. We cannot continue to operate in a way that is beneficial for the monied interests in our society. Small decisions like these at the local level are just symptoms of a larger and more insidious cancer that affects our ability to govern ourselves.

There’s a link to the story that started all this here. However, now that the DMN has moved most of its content behind the subscriber wall, it’s not particularly useful.

Does Our Whininess Have No End?

Whole Foods is implementing a plan to give a bigger employee discount to employees that don’t smoke, have lower blood pressure and have a BMI under 30. Naturally, people are whining about discrimination. This includes one quote that I can’t possibly do justice to other than to reproduce it in full:

“Why are you rewarding people who are naturally thin? We believe it’s discrimination,” said Peggy Howell, a spokeswoman for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. “We are encouraging our membership and anyone else who agrees with us to shop elsewhere.”

Sigh. Look, Peggy Howell, I’ve got news for you. Most of your membership IS ALREADY shopping somewhere else like Taco Bell and Long John Silver’s. My tiny little brain can’t even comprehend the idea of a National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

This is a voluntary program to reward people for doing something valuable in the eyes of their employer. On top of that, it rewards people for doing what it takes to be healthier. It’s a fucking voluntary incentive program, no different than giving out bonuses to people who do more or better work. In the huge majority of instances, fat is a choice. Yes, some body types find it easier to not gain weight but contrary to Ms. Howell’s assertion, almost everyone is naturally thin. We eat too much and we exercise too little because we choose to.

I think it’s sad that it’s come to the point not only where being fat and out of shape is a badge of honor but where there is an association trying to spread the acceptance of it. This is not the same thing as civil rights or gay freedom or anything else out there. We are fat because we eat too much, exercise too little and live in a country where we have to do almost no physical labor at any time. Just today, I saw a commercial by a bariatric surgeon that told me if I was fat, I didn’t have a weight control problem, I had a medical condition called obesity. We are to the point where being overweight is a medical condition and not a choice. That’s unbelievable. Is weight loss hard? Only because our diet is so screwed up and our exercise output is so low. Get 30 minutes of exercise a day, eat nothing but meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit in 2000 calorie daily totals and you will lose weight in all most all cases. It just isn’t that hard from a physical standpoint. The rules are simple and easy to define. It’s the discipline to do so that goes so terribly wanting.

Whole Foods is trying to get their employees to be healthier. People who choose not to participate still get the same damn discount they have always gotten. This is an incentive program, plain and simple. Choose to do what it takes to be healthy and we’ll reward you. There’s nothing discriminatory about it. Bill Maher said it best: “Ask your doctor if getting off your ass is right for you.”

We Really Are In The Best Of Hands

The mayor of New York and that city’s health commissioner have decided to pressure city restaurants to lower the amount of salt in food they serve by half over the next decade even though the science behind the decision is ambiguous and uncertain. On top of that, lowering salt in your diet may lead to depression.

Many people will argue that doing something like this surely won’t hurt anything and might help a lot but in fact, there are always hidden costs to any public policy decision that politicians and people who favor more government never have to face because they are practically invisible to the public. Costs like spending more money on altering the supply chain of their food to remove supposedly high salt foods. Those costs get passed down the chain and even though it’s not obvious will eventually lead to things like higher costs or job losses. But that just gives politicians the chance to “do something else.”

The government can’t even protect our food supply from diseases that kill us directly like the latest outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter. How can we ever hope for them to protect us from some disease in the future that may or may not be related to an ingredient in most of our food today? This complete disconnect with the abilities that government actually has and the desire to increase the power of the government so that it can expand its powers over us seems odd to me. Let me choose whether to eat high salt or fat foods. You try to keep salmonella and E coli out of my peanut butter for a couple of years and we’ll see how that goes.

Politicians are largely driven by power and fame and the only way to continually feed those drives is to regularly “do something important.” Until we start electing more leaders and fewer power hungry megalomaniacs, we will keep being saddled with ridiculous laws and bigger government, government that is largely impotent in its attempt to protect its citizenry and many times inflicts great damage in the name of “doing something”.

Doing Something Productive

I just sent the following to my Representative in the US House in response to HR 875 – the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2009 which I wrote about here. I lifted a large portion of the letter with permission from TennZen and tailored the message somewhat to Congressman Hall, my representative. Feel free to use it yourself in total or as a helpful starting point. I encourage you to read about what this bill would mean to small farmers everywhere. You can find your Rep here. I also submitted it to both my Senators. You can find your Senators here.

Dear Congressman Hall,

As a constituent and a homestead farmer, I am concerned about legislation that could affect my freedom to grow healthy foods to provide for my family’s nutritional and economic needs.

There is a bill in Congress right now – HR 875 – that has the potential to detrimentally affect that freedom.

This bill strips the state agriculture departments of their powers and binds them to enforcing federal standards – effectively turning them into “food police” for the new federal food agency that would be created. The broad language affects anyone growing food, even if they aren’t selling it, and all but criminalizes organic farming. The administrative aspect of the bill would place the job of interpreting the legislation into the hands of factory farming corporations and lobbyists. The remainder of the bill’s language is so generic that even a backyard gardener could find himself facing stiff fines and penalties.

As the representative for a largely rural area with many small farms, you surely must understand the impact a far-reaching bill such as this would have on not only their livelihood but also on those of us who depend on their productivity to feed our families.

I ask that you please oppose HR 875 – the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2009 – and encourage your fellow Congressmen to do the same.

Sincerely yours,
Brett Bim
1316 Valley Stream Drive
Wylie, TX 75098
Collin County

Change We Can Believe In

A bill has been introduced by a Democrat whose husband does work for Monsanto that would effectively kill farmer’s markets. Under the guise of protecting those of us who never asked for protection, the government is trying to regulate all food we might buy. A new governmental entity would be created out of thin air to handle all this regulation all in the name of higher quality food, leaving aside the facts that the large outbreaks of salmonella and e-coli in recent years have almost always been traced back to large corporations or farms already under regulation. If the government can’t stop it there, why should we believe the regulation of farmer’s markets and small family farms will be any more successful?

We’re not 100 days in yet and we’re starting to see unbelievable crap like this. We’ve elected people who are under the impression that what we want most is to be protected. At some point, there will be a clash between the people who just want to be left alone and this big government that is slowly consolidating power. I have no idea what the outcome will be but I’m starting to get a tad nervous about it.

More here.

Is Selling Porn Worse Than Robbing People?

The Justice Department thinks so. Here, we have a police officer who bribed Hispanics to give him money in exchange for not arresting them. He gets 1 year of home arrest while a man selling tapes showing consenting adults having sex to consenting adults gets 33 months in prison. The police have one task and that is to protect citizens. We have a guy who definitely did not do that and he gets off with no jail time because he showed remorse. This is the America we live in today, one where “crimes” between consenting adults are considered worse than crimes committed by those who are supposed to protect us.