Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nanny State Updates: Profiles of the Tedious Tyranny of Our Times

Yesterday I pointed out the latest episode of local townships in Great Britain snooping into the waste habits of their citizens. But the seditious power grab is very much underway on this side of the Pond too.

From the "How on Earth Has It Come to This?" file:

* Nanny State bureaucrats have outlawed junior high school students from walking or biking to school! This story from Sarosota Springs, New York, suggests that the school district rules might change because of the publicized "civil disobedience" of one kid but, for crying out loud, school officials shouldn't even be in the picture here. Consider the arrogance of educational officials presuming that these rights are theirs to confer or deny. Amazing. And quite wicked.

* The Wall Street Journal describes Team Obama as denying that they represent a Nanny State mentality. But they will accept being a "Nudge State" -- "a government that gives citizens the freedom to make choices, but arranges those choices in ways designed to leverage their lethargy for their own good, or the common good. It's like a parent who puts a bowl of fruit within easy reach while stashing the cookies inconveniently on the pantry's top shelf....But Mr. Obama's efforts go beyond exhortations to a wide-ranging series of policies ready to warn you off bad behavior and favor good choices."

* In Irving Township, Michigan, state social workers are threatening legal action (with all the fright, notoriety and expense which that involves) against a good neighbor who has been letting the kids of three fellow Moms come into her home for an hour before they climb onto the school bus. You see, the Nanny State doesn't want to merely control these kids in the eight hours it already has them, they want to control their lives (and their parents' too) before and after. And so they're going after a responsible, caring mother and friend, threatening to sick the police on her for operating an "unlicensed day care center."

* But my favorite example remains one that surfaced a couple of years ago in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, where senior citizens living in the public housing at the Francis Gardens complex were ordered by the powers that be (this particular "bureaucrat bully" was Dennis Osborn, director of the Shrewsbury Housing Authority) that they could no longer have the following on their porches or patios: (Are you ready for this?) No chairs, no tables, no flowerpots, no wind chimes, no flags, no mobiles, no birdhouses and, just to make sure, no "similar items." Furthermore, the entryways were to be completely cleared. No floor mats, no throw rugs, no welcome mats, no wall hangings, no coat racks, no shelves, no furniture of any kind or size, no umbrella stands, no plants, and no folding grocery carts.

And, oh yes; no Christmas decorations.

Tenants had five days to get rid of their things. Otherwise the thugs who work for the Housing authority were poised to confiscate and get rid of them personally.

Osborn said he proposed the rules because clutter at the complex had reached hazardous proportions. (Oh yeah, those wind chimes and chairs can be deadly.) But the senior citizen residents had ignored the twerp. Osborn said. "They don't want to change at all."

Osborn got his way and the Nanny State policies he utilized were successful in removing some of the basic pleasures of these senior citizens. But that didn't stop him from wanting more power. The following year he insisted that a pretty crabapple tree adored by the residents had to be chopped down.

Osborn wanted to put a trash bin there.

But Lea Perrone (74), Pat Henry (65) and Ethel Casey (85) decided to fight for their tree. They tied themselves together with rope which was strung through patio chairs and then around the crabapple tree to prevent it from being cut down.

For their efforts, Osborn evicted them along with Helen Jarzobski (93) who refused to bring in her chair from her patio. Indeed, her grandson chained it to a pole. Said Jarzobski of Osborn, "He wants me to bring my chair out every morning and bring it back in at night. Well, I use a walker. There's no way I can do that. Any man that will stoop that low to evict a 93 1/2-year-old woman who has lived here 32 years over a chair has got to be sick."

Sick isn't the only word that comes to mind, is it?

The eviction was fought and beaten back by Christopher M. Uhl, a Worcester lawyer working pro bono. He intervened with a restraining order for Housing Authority officials "to cease and desist from their idiotic actions." Said Uhl, "I guess they have nothing to do but harass these 80- and 90-year-old people. You can't even fly an American flag outside your home? Just let them live the way that they want to live."

He won and the court refused to evict the ladies.

But Lord Osborn continues his petty tyranny there. As Mrs. Henry put it, "Old people can't carry their chairs and tables in and out every day. We all like to sit and have our breakfast and suppers out here and enjoy this beautiful weather. Any man that bullies old people is a punk."

But punks like this abuse their authority every day, enjoying the opportunity to push people of all ages and all walks of life around. And rather than punishing such brutes and defending the rights of citizens as American law and Judaeo-Christian moral standards once did, the secular Nanny State actually encourages these outrages.

So do we roll over and let these scalawags take our country? Or do we, like these brave role models, find a tree and some lawn chairs to strap ourselves to as we fight back for what is right?