The Protection Racket

Today’s Union Leader has an editorial summing up the achievements and aspirations of our legislature since the Demcrats took over in 2006, and it’s quite stunning. It’s the conclusion of the paper that they are out to ruin New Hampshire businesses.

I respectfully disagree. That’s not the intent, that’s just a side effect.

What they want to do is protect all of us. If, in the process, they should kill off two or three or a dozen or hundred businesses, so be it. That’s the price we have to pay.

Here’s the measures cited by the Union Leader that have been the target of bills in the Legislature of late:

  • Restrict interest rates of payday loan offices to the point where they aren’t profitable
  • Tax cigar store inventories at 60%, payable the instant the tax takes effect
  • Outlaw low-efficiency lightbulbs
  • Ban advertising of prescription drugs
  • Regulate draft beer far more strictly
  • Ban transfats from restaurants
  • Require all home contractors — even those who do it as a “hobby” — to register and take training classes
  • Ban “price gouging” of certain products during emergencies
  • Demand health insurers cover a whole host of new services
  • Raised the tax on cigarettes
  • Tried to tax candy
  • Proposed requiring gas stations to round up their prices to the nearest cent

The common thread here? Protecting the people.

The funny thing is, I don’t think it’s the state’s job to protect me from making choices it considers bad ones. I think they have a role in demanding that I be given full information in making my decisions, and they do that already. But I neither want nor need them to coerce or compel me to take what they consider the wise action.

To steal a word back from the Left, this is all about CHOICE. And it’s about the government, out of fear that I might make the wrong choice, preventing me from making any choice.

There’s a term for the sort of person who protects us from making bad choices. It’s most often called “Mommy.”

I am an adult. I’ve been an adult for over half my life. I have made a lot of choices in my life, and a lot of them were, in the short term, wrong for me.

But it’s through mistakes that we learn not only what was the right choice, but learn a bit about making right choices in the future.

Thomas Edison, legend has it, tried a thousand times before he invented the light bulb. But he never said he failed 999 times, he said he discovered 999 ways to NOT make a light bulb.

And the most famous failure I know of is Michael Jordan. I’m no sports fan, but he once said something so amazingly profound, it is etched on the inside of my brain:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

If the New Hampshire legislature has its way, there will never be another Michael Jordan. He will be protected from failing, from making wrong choices, from making mistakes — and learning from them.

Instead, Michael will learn to turn to the government for help, to look to them for protection and guidance and direction.

Michael will grow up and live his life always counting on the government to protect him from bad things, as that is what he has been taught.

And should something happen that the government can’t protect Michael from (such as, say, a hurricane or earthquake or a sudden major illness), why then Michael will be on his own.

For the first time in his life.

But that’s OK. I’m sure that, despite a lifetime of never having to make the hard choices and learn how to choose what’s best for him, Michael will be just fine when he suddenly has to fend for himself.

And if not, then the government will give his survivors a nice check.

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