"Jerry Doyle is one of the true originals in a media scene marked by contrived sameness. This timely book captures and conveys his crystal clear insights, storybook life experience, and marvelous spirit." Michael Harrison, Talkers magazine
Have You Seen My Country Lately?: America's Wake-Up Callby Jerry Doyle
"I’ve seen my country lately. Frankly, I don’t like what I see. Nevertheless, it’s not too late to restore the great and unique wonder that is the United States. We are the beacon of hope for the world, and we will remain so as long as we stand up for our principles."
In keeping with his no-holds-barred on-air style, conservative radio/b>… See more details below
"I’ve seen my country lately. Frankly, I don’t like what I see. Nevertheless, it’s not too late to restore the great and unique wonder that is the United States. We are the beacon of hope for the world, and we will remain so as long as we stand up for our principles."
In keeping with his no-holds-barred on-air style, conservative radio talk show host Jerry Doyle has the guts to ask the tough questions about the state of our nation today. In this informative, entertaining, and challenging narrative, he urges Americans to take back the things that make our country great, and delivers his hard-hitting and oftentimes humorous spin on:
• ECONOMIC FASCISM—the rapid government domination that began with the egregious takedown of GM
• BAILOUTS—the missteps, wrong moves, and rules of salary caps, bank buy-ins, and bonuses that changed from day to day
• EDUCATION—how our "everybody wins" obsession is destroying teaching and fostering an obnoxious self-entitlement trend
• THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY—will American capitalism survive this administration?
. . . and much more. If you like your politics straight up, with a commonsense chaser and a shot of dry wit, you’ll be galvanized and enlightened by Jerry Doyle—the man, his story, and his insights into America today.
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Read an Excerpt
I smoke cigarettes because I love kids.
Think about it: with every drag on a cigarette, I am doing my part to help support all the needy children in America forced to grow up in a world without health insurance.
Sound preposterous? Let's look at the facts.
The tax on the cigarettes that I smoke funds the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and provides health care for children of the working poor and for children of the not-so-poor.
On February 4, 2009, President Obama signed into law a $0.62 increase in the federal cigarette tax, along with increases in other tobacco taxes. The total federal tax on cigarettes is now $1.01 per pack. That, by the way, is on top of state, city, and local taxes. In states like Massachusetts, where smokers are basically on par with terrorists, the total tax on a pack of smokes is now $3.52. And that doesn't even put them in the top ten. Barrow, Alaska, came in seventh place with $4.01 per pack. Chicago, Illinois, clocked in second at $4.67 per pack. And crossing the tobacco finish line in first place is New York City, at $5.26 per pack and remember, that's just for the taxes.
I can almost hear the Smoke Nazis cheering, "More! More! More! Higher! Higher! Higher!" After all, it's "all for the children." Revenue produced by the increased tax will not only allow the federal government to expand the budget of SCHIP, it will also bring our nation closer to a government-controlled program for universal health care. All "for the children." All funded by my nicotine addiction. It makes a man proud.
That's what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said at the signing of the SCHIP bill: "When people ask me the three most important issues facing the Congress, I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children. When the SCHIP bill passed the House of Representatives, we were on the floor, and it was the end of the day, and I quoted the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 'The Children's Hour.' And I said that when we passed that bill, it would be the children's hour for the Congress of the United States. As many of you know, when I took the gavel as first woman Speaker of the House, I took it surrounded by children. This is a comfortable environment for me. It reminds us constantly of our responsibility to the future. But when I took that gavel, I said, 'I take this gavel on behalf of all America's children.' And let's hear it for the children!" For those of you who buy into Pelosi's sincerity, the same Nancy Pelosi, at her swearing-in as speaker of the house, said this: "After years of historic deficits, this new Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: pay as you go, no new deficit spending. Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt." So much for the children.
Taxing cigarettes on behalf of the children is only one symptom of a broader governmental effort to control our lives. Whether it's driving an SUV, eating a burger, watering the lawn, or chugging a soda, government wants you to cut it out or pay through the nose. And when government says something, you'd better listen. It's easy to increase "sin taxes" when it's "for the children." But I warn you, it's only a matter of time before they come after something you enjoy.
Government has become the Pleasure Police.
And the administration of Barack Obama and the dogooders in Congress are looking into every nook and cranny of our lives as Pelosi put it, "every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory."
When they came for the smokers, you did nothing because you weren't a smoker. When they came for the beer drinkers, you did nothing because you weren't a beer drinker. When they came for the gamblers, you did nothing because you weren't a gambler. When they come for something you enjoy, who will be left to stand up for your rights?
Let's start with a case study: SCHIP.
After the Clinton universal health care plan failed in 1993 and after that failure led to the Republican Revolution of 1994 Democrats were looking under every rock for an alternative plan. One that would be less expensive and easier to sneak by the eyes of Congress. In particular, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton discovered that it was far easier to con Americans into supporting health care for tots than universal health care. After all, it takes a village to pay for a kid's vaccinations.
So Hillary and Co. put together an action team, led by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Kennedy spearheaded the initiative to provide medical insurance to children and he suggested that the bills be footed by dastardly smokers. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) joined on, happy as a clam to be linked with any cause that could "help the children" as Hatch said, "Children are being terribly hurt and perhaps scarred for the rest of their lives" by living without health insurance.
Now, this "all for the children" move was terrific. After all, who doesn't want to give poor, innocent kids medical insurance? Especially when smokers are paying for it. How can anyone argue with that?
Obviously Congress couldn't. Hence the U.S. Senate was able to muster enough bipartisan support to pass the bill in August 1997.
The only controversy surrounding SCHIP at its creation was its attempt to raise federal taxes on tobacco. Ironically enough, many states opposed this rise in taxes because it would cut into the revenue they were getting from taxing tobacco. The Republican Policy Committee, for example, called the bill "admirable" but misguided, stating that smokers would stop buying cigarettes due to high prices, and that such a market drop-off would cost states and localities $6.5 billion over five years. Kennedy's predictable response: "If we can keep people healthy and stop them from dying, I think most Americans would say 'Amen; isn't that a great result?' "
Of course, that wasn't exactly Kennedy's true feeling on the matter. While Pleasure Police legislators across the partisan divide despise smokers even President Obama, who likes to light up, won't do it in front of the cameras the same Pleasure Police rely on smokers to keep buying to fund their socialist health care schemes. After all, as President Bill Clinton put it while signing the bill, "Because we have acted, millions of children all across this country will be able to get medicine, and have their sight and hearing tested and see dentists for the first time." Would Teddy want to deny those millions of children their sight if all of us smokers decided to go cold turkey?
That's the schizophrenic attitude of the government on smoking we need you to smoke, but you're bad people for smoking. Or, as I put it, love the sin, hate the sinner.
So we get two conflicting policies: as SCHIP grows toward universal health care, the government has to increase the taxes on cigarettes. In short, the government needs smokers. At the same time, the Pleasure Police hate smokers, so they try to stop them from smoking. This is somewhat like wearing a scuba suit while trying to drown yourself.
But there's one thing that unifies these two conflicting ideas universal health care and the war on smoking and that's control over Americans' lives. Your life and my life.
When SCHIP began, it was slated to provide a whopping $24 billion to provide health care to uninsured children (remember those quaint days when $24 billion was a lot of money?). That hefty chunk of change wasn't nearly enough, though. Not when the government could use Helping the Children™ as an excuse to control everybody's health care.
During his administration, George W. Bush twice vetoed bills to increase SCHIP funding by raising tobacco taxes. As soon as the CEO of America, Barack Obama, was elected, he and his overwhelmingly Democratic Congress pushed through a measure to expand the program, moving closer to their goal of nationalized health care. On February 5, 2009, Obama signed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, which was designed to increase the program's coverage to four million kids and adults yes, I said adults in addition to the seven million it already covers. Naturally, the new funding was going to come directly from smokers. Not only did the bill raise tobacco taxes, it loosened requirements for SCHIP eligibility now newly legal immigrants, particularly pregnant women and people under twenty-one, could receive benefits right away, without spending one day paying taxes (previously, a five-year waiting period was required to receive benefits). No waiting period required.
And citizenship documentation was loosened, too instead of requiring a passport or birth certificate to demonstrate citizenship, states are now allowed to verify citizenship by matching an applicant's name and Social Security number with federal records. Basically, steal somebody's Social Security number and you're in the pink or, rather, the green. Said Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA): "While this bill is short of our ultimate goal...it is a down payment, and it is an essential start." The key words: "ultimate goal." You can already see the Democrats' creeping incrementalism, which we will discuss in detail shortly. And Nancy Pelosi seconded the motion: "This is the beginning of the change that the American people voted for in the last election, and that we will achieve with President Barack Obama."
What's the problem with expanding government-covered health care, you ask? Actually, there are two problems. Number one: you don't get to choose your doctor anymore. The government chooses where, when, and why you'll see a doctor. Two, at the very least, you're going to be paying for someone else's health care. And now that Congress has begun expanding SCHIP to cover even those who aren't poor, you're probably paying for your next-door neighbor's health care. You know the schlub who owns the Bentley.
Here's how it works. Individual states determine the eligibility requirements for SCHIP based on the federal poverty guidelines. State governments are allowed to broaden the scope of eligibility to families making as much as 300 percent more than the federal poverty level. You read that right. Three hundred percent. That means middle-class children, even kids of the semirich, are now covered under the public health care system. For example, in New Jersey a family of four making over $66,000 who may already have insurance is eligible for SCHIP.
It's even worse in New York, where the state legislature attempted to pass a bill promoted by former Governor Eliot "Client #9" Spitzer to expand the eligibility for SCHIP to more than 400 percent over the poverty level. That would have meant that children in a family of four making $82,600 would have been covered. I know New York City is expensive, but do you think it's possible that a family of four could eke out an existence on an annual income of $82,600?
That's quite a "limit." By allowing states to subjectively define poverty, more and more kids who are covered by private health insurance paid for by parents will be dumped off private rolls and signed onto government-issued universal health care. In turn, these families are beholden to the politicians and dependent on government programs. It is not likely that a person who depends on the government to pay for their medical insurance, food stamps, school lunches, education, and numerous other subsidies will vote against the congressman who protects and expands these programs.
This means the beginning of the end of private health care the best health care system in the world. I'm not exaggerating. Listen to the Democrats on this score. When Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) asked whether it was "the real intent of this legislation to replace the private health care system with a government-run health care system," Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) quickly responded that he did not want to "trap people into private health insurance."
This is government "care" we just don't need. In 2007, 12.5 percent of the population was living in poverty as defined by the federal government, and most of these people were in metropolitan areas. That sounds like a lot of people. But that's much lower than the 18.5 percent of the population that was living in poverty in 1959, when this information was first recorded. We are doing better, despite President Obama telling us that American families are barely scraping by and can't survive without the government's help.
But Obama and his political pals have a stake in telling us how rough we have it after all, that's how they get us to vote for them. That's the payoff. They tell us the world is an awful place, they provide us the comfortable safety net of substandard services, and then we vote for them. That's why Obama and the other politicians who are pushing for nationalized health care cite misleading statistics with unnerving ease.
Sally Pipes, president and CEO of Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco and author of The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care: A Citizen's Guide and Miracle Cure: How to Solve America's Health Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn't the Answer, addressed some of the false facts on my syndicated radio program. For example, Pipes explained that Obama and his cronies like to say that preventive care, weight loss programs, and antismoking programs will save health care dollars. There is no solid evidence to show that those initiatives have any positive effect on medical spending in the long run. In actuality, after Congress mandated nutritional information posted on food labels, the "percentage of obese Americans increased by two-thirds."
Supporters of the Food and Drug Administration's regulation of tobacco cite figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that smokers cost the country $96 billion per year in direct health care costs, and an additional $97 billion in lost productivity. But as Sally Pipes pointed out, smokers die earlier than nonsmokers, and actually provide a savings to Medicare, Social Security, pensions, and other government programs. The average smoker dies at age seventy-seven; the average nonsmoker dies at age eighty-four. Those extra seven years cost about $100,000 more in medical costs. A Dutch study published in 2008 in the Public Library of Science Medicine Journal backs her up the study found that health care costs for smokers were about $326,000 from age twenty on, compared with $417,000 for thin and healthy people. The reason? Thin, healthy people live longer. According to the Associated Press, the CDC refuses to put a health tag on the price savings from smoking they think it's ghoulish, even though it's accurate. Smoking not only helps the children, it saves the whole health care system money!
The most important myth propagated by liberals all across America is that 45 million Americans have no health insurance, and therefore no access to health care. That's a phony statistic. What politicians fail to mention is that the "48 million uninsured" figure includes about ten million illegal immigrants. Over nine million of the "uninsured" live in households with incomes above $75,000. About 30 percent of those "uninsured" lack insurance for only six months or less. And according to Pipes, "as many as 12 million uninsured Americans are eligible for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program but they haven't signed up." When you subtract all the people who are in this country illegally, voluntarily do not have insurance, or just haven't applied for it, the total number of uninsured Americans is a fraction of the 45 million that we hear repeated over and over again.
With this administration, branding is the key, whether that branding is the truth or not. The reality is that we have eight to nine million chronically uninsured people that we should be focused on helping. What we don't need is a program designed to save the other 37 million people who don't need it.
Then there's the lie that uninsured people have no access to health care. This is absolutely false. The federal government passed a law in 1986 that requires any hospital that participates in Medicare to accept any patient that comes through the emergency room door and to provide care regardless of the patient's ability to pay. Do not believe politicians who blather that America must be ashamed because "people in this country do not have access to medical care"; it's a flat-out lie. Everyone in this country has access to medical care, and most hospitals are required to provide it.
But lies matter less than ramming through policies that give government control over your life. The expansion of SCHIP is a perfect example of creeping incrementalism. Little by little the government takes control and intrudes into our private lives. You don't see it happening, but it's happening right in front of your eyes. I first began to think about creeping incrementalism while I was living in Florida. Each morning, I would go down to the Jupiter Inlet jetty and chat up the local fishheads. Every day, I would watch the relentless pounding of the waves on the jagged edges of the rocks, and with every wave, those edges were being slowly eroded, worn away. But unless you watched it as I did, day after day, year after year, you never saw that it was happening.
It's the same thing with the government's creeping incrementalism, intruding into our lives under the guise of government programs we can't live without. They start with a small step and use an emotional symbol like a poor sick child to get support for their health care program, or a seemingly starving and stranded polar bear to convince us that global warming is going to destroy the planet. A bill is passed. Taxes are raised. Then slowly, over time, the program is expanded. The regulations and programs keep growing. The jagged edges of the rock are worn away.
The more dependent private citizens are on the government, the more powerful the government becomes, and the less freedom we have to make decisions in our lives. Sooner or later, somebody becomes the scapegoat somebody has to pay. Lately, it's been the smokers. Congressman Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia, was on my radio show, and estimates that we need 22 million additional smokers in this country to pay for the expansion of SCHIP.
The tax revenue from my pack of cigarettes is paying for your kid's health care. I choose to smoke, but I do not choose to pay for someone else's medical insurance. You had the kid. You pay the freight. Unless I was invited to the conception and birth, I don't want to be responsible for paying for your kid's medical coverage.
But in the liberal worldview, everybody is responsible for everybody's medical coverage. Which means that everybody gets to decide whether you really need that new hip, or whether you're just whining about it. It means that everybody gets to decide whether you or poor sick little Billy deserves chemo. Here's the problem with "it takes a village" medical care medical care is inherently about the individual, and socialistic medicine is inherently about the community. When you've got a broken leg, you're not concerned about the rest of the folks in the hospital you want your damn leg fixed this very instant. In a socialized system, your broken leg might have to wait for Bentley Boy's sprained ankle.
Liberals love it. They believe that they're the brightest, smartest folks who ever lived. And they believe that they should be in control of idiots like me and you.
As we just saw, smoking pays for children's health care. So the next time you see someone who's not smoking, ask them, "Why do you hate children so much?"
In fact, ask a liberal. Here's why: while liberals are constantly encouraging people to smoke so they can tax the sales, they're also treating smokers like they have the plague. In Las Vegas, you can't smoke in the airport, but as soon as you get off the plane you can gamble away your kid's college tuition, hire a prostitute (so I've been told), or play video blackjack until you are broke. Or as people in the industry say, "play to extinction." In Nevada the state and federal tax per pack of cigarettes is targeted to be $2. That means a carton of cigarettes costs about $50. Every time you buy a carton, you're paying the equivalent of your phone bill. In New York, a single pack of cigarettes may cost you upward of $8.
On the federal level, the largest tax hikes have been on bulk tobacco and small cigars. Bulk tobacco was previously taxed at $1.10 per pound. That was raised to $24.78 per pound, a 2,259 percent increase. Small cigars were taxed at $1.828 per 1,000 and are now $50.33 per 1,000, an increase of over 2,700 percent.
Worse than the tax hikes are the numerous laws seeking to turn smokers into social outcasts. Around the country, smoking bans have been put in place to protect the innocent public from cigarette smoke. It is illegal to smoke on the beach in San Diego; we wouldn't want smokers tossing their butts on the beach, don't you know. (By the way, I'm all for courteous behavior people should throw their butts in the garbage. But by the same token, I don't want to watch some fat slob toss his Big Mac wrapper on the sand.)
At Torrey Pines Golf Course, which is a municipal course, smoking is not allowed at all. You can't smoke a cigar on the course even if the others in your group all want to smoke cigars and the only offendable people are hundreds of yards away. Torrey Pines is located on a cliff near the ocean. The winds are so strong at Torrey Pines that hanggliders use the air currents to fly along the coast. But apparently, the winds aren't strong enough to carry away the stench of cigarette smoke or cigar smoke.
It isn't just restricted to golf courses and beaches. The entire state of California treats smoking as though it's the bubonic plague: "Stay away, you diseased bastard, and keep your cancer sticks to yourself!" If California treated illegal immigration the same way it treats smokers, the illegal population would be cut in half within the year.
California started its attack on smokers in 1994 when smoking in the workplace, including restaurants, was made illegal. Four years later, smoking was banned in bars. The bar ban included $100 fines for bar owners allowing smoking for a first offense. The second time around, the fine jumps to $7,000.
In October 2007, California went even further, making it illegal to smoke in a car with another person seventeen years old or younger. "I am so proud that my fellow legislators and the governor agree that our children must be protected from the toxins in secondhand smoke. I will continue to help lead California in eliminating pollutants that hurt our kids' health," said State Senator Jenny Oropeza (D). It's all "for the children." Anything "for the children." And hey, just to help the children, how about lighting up with me, Senator Oropeza?
In October 2007, Belmont, California, passed one of the most ridiculous smoking restrictions they made it illegal to smoke in your own apartment or condominium. In fact, under applicable local and state rules, residents of Belmont can't smoke anywhere except in detached homes and yards, streets and some sidewalks, and certain outdoor "designated smoking areas." The rationale? If your home has a shared wall with another residence, your smoke could seep through the wall or out a window and into your neighbor's home. The noxious fumes could magically creep through solid steel and tainted Chinese drywall and poison you to death.
This is a massive violation of property rights. If you own a condo and want to allow your tenants to smoke in Belmont well, tough for you, bud. If the Pleasure Police catch your tenant lighting up, they'll fine you $100.
Belmont isn't alone. El Cajon, a town in San Diego County, California, made it illegal to smoke in most public spaces including on sidewalks. The city outlawed smoking in parks, and required businesses selling tobacco to acquire a license. The City Council vote in favor of the measure was unanimous. "It's a health issue," said city spokeswoman Monica Zech. "It is not taking away rights." What, exactly, would "taking away rights" constitute? Locking smokers into public stocks? Summary execution? Branding with the scarlet "S" of smoking?
They're moving in that direction in Calabasas, California. In March 2006, the Calabasas City Council prohibited smoking in all public places where anyone anyone! might be exposed to secondhand smoke. The ban encompasses bus stops, soccer fields, parks, sidewalks, and outdoor cafés. You can smoke in your car but not if the windows are open and someone is nearby.
Barry Groveman, mayor of Calabasas and an environmental lawyer, crows that the regulations "push the envelope," and celebrates the "ground breaking public health law." "This is the right time and the right place to take this step," says Groveman. "We hope it will be the way things are done all over the country and all over the world." First offenders, reportedly, will be given a warning and a breath mint. Second offenders may get a caning.
It's not just smokers the government hates it's the tobacco sellers. In April 2009, Teddy Kennedy and Henry Waxman passed a bill through Congress to have tobacco regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Never mind that the bill actually benefits Big Tobacco companies like Philip Morris backed the bill, since it effectively shuts down smaller competitors. Congressman Waxman couldn't be prouder: "Today is truly a historic day in the fight against tobacco, and I am proud that we have taken such decisive action...now we all can breathe a little easier." With all the crappy food we eat in this country, doesn't the FDA have enough to worry about?
It doesn't end there. The SCHIP expansion bill, which relies on nicotine addiction for its income, requires any manufacturer or importer of tobacco to apply for a permit from the Tobacco Trade Bureau, which is part of Timothy "Son of Shifty" Geithner's Department of the Treasury. The TTB states on its Web site that "as a result of the [Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009], any person who manufactures or imports processed tobacco will now be required to qualify for and obtain a permit from TTB, and take inventories, submit reports, and keep records as required by regulation." The government now requires you to qualify for the business you are already in, and submit reports to them.
It's even worse. The TTB can put any importer or manufacturer out of business, or tie up the permit application with bureaucratic nonsense for so long that it is impossible to survive. According to the TTB's Web site, "As a result of the Act, the basis for denial, suspension, or revocation of permits has been broadened." In other words, the government gives itself the authority to deny you a permit to make tobacco products, and suspend or even revoke the permit once they've given it to you.
Here are my questions: Where's the bailout? Is the government now going into the tobacco business? If you are a tobacco manufacturer and the government denies your permit, what will they do for those laid-off employees? Will they take over your business and make you a government employee like they have with executives at General Motors and AIG?
This hurts consumers and business at the same time it sucks the lifeblood for children's health care from those very folks. It's a radical 1960s agenda packaged as a nice way to pay for kids' doctor's appointments.
But here's the real question: How far will the government go? If smoke is so damn dangerous, how about outlawing backyard barbecues on the Fourth of July? Or how about buying carbon offsets before dumping on the lighter fluid?
And here's an even bigger question: Why not just make it illegal to smoke tobacco? The government wants us to stop smoking we just spent $75 million in Obama's stimulus behemoth in order to create programs to get people to quit smoking (perhaps Obama can be the first beneficiary). Yet they won't just ban cigarettes. That would be the easiest way of stopping people from smoking. We could have a modern-day Tobacco Prohibition. We could stand up for health. We could stop lung cancer right in its tracks. We could do it "for the children." And the Democrats and Republicans have the votes to do it. So why not?
The answer is simple: they don't want to make it illegal. First off, they want to milk the tobacco companies for all they're worth. The same Democrats who say they just want to "help the children" are taking boatloads of greenbacks from companies in the tobacco industry. Over the last decade, Democrats from New York have gotten rich from the tobacco folks: former Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Charles Schumer took $5,000 each; Rep Gregory Meeks took $17,000; Rep. Joseph Crowley took $17,000; Rep. Edolphus Towns took $15,450; and Rep. Charlie "I'm Investigating Myself" Rangel took a whopping $44,000. Only one Republican took more money than Rangel Rep. Thomas Reynolds, who pocketed $48,000. In California, it's the same story: Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson took $26,000; Rep. Dennis Cardoza took $26,500; and Rep. Joe Baca led the Democratic pack with $28,310. The only Republican who received more money than the Democrats was Rep. Devin Nunes at $44,500. Even in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) took $23,000 from the evil tobacco industry.
They want the tobacco industry to stay in business, and they want smokers to smoke. All so they can pocket everyone's money, control your life, and do it "for the children." And they want you to smoke "for the children" so that they can expand their control even further, by taking over the health care system.
It's a big cycle of control. And it doesn't stop at cigarettes.
So now you can't smoke. "Okay," you figure, "at least I can still go down to the McDonald's and have a burger and fries." Not so fast there, buddy. The government is coming after your food, too.
In December 2006, in a regulative move that shocked the nation, the New York Board of Health banned the use of trans fats from all restaurants in New York. Of course, the FDA had already approved the use of trans fats, but that didn't stop those brave New York legislators. Trans fats are hydrogenated oils products like Crisco are trans fats. They're cheap and they have a long shelf life. They're used in everything from pizza to hot chocolate mix to French fries. According to the FDA, the average American eats 4.7 pounds of trans fats every year. And yet, somehow, the country has been functioning for years.
And the legislators went even further: restaurants that included certain health info on menus were forced to start listing calorie counts on their menus, too. Just in case that dude at Dunkin' Donuts thinks the chocolate éclair is good for him, of course.
Some might call this fascistic control over everyday life. After all, if you want to chow down on some greasy fries, that's your business. But the government calls it a step forward. "Nobody wants to take away your french fries and hamburgers," says New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. "I love those things, too. But if you can make them with something that is less damaging to your health, we should do that."
Now, contrary to popular elitist opinion, Americans are not total morons. We know that French fries aren't good for us. But we like 'em anyway. We know they're fried in oil. We know they're instant heart attacks. That's our business. If I'm out at Yankee Stadium for the afternoon, I don't need to know the calorie count on a Bud Lite in a souvenir $10 cup. And I certainly don't need to know how many ounces of fat an order of KFC chicken tenders has. If I want to find out, that's my business. But who put Little Lord Bloomberg in charge of the food industry? Who said that just because Mikey Likes It, we all have to like it? Or, conversely, just because Mikey Hates It, we can't eat it? Isn't this a free country? Or does the Constitution no longer apply to those who enjoy pork rinds?
Here's the dumbest part: this government regulation, like virtually all other government regulation, is designed to take effect quickly. And this government regulation, like virtually all other government regulation, hasn't properly considered what will happen because of this rush to action. The bill gave restaurants six months to replace cooking oils and shortening, and eighteen months to phase out trans fats altogether. So what did many restaurants do? They simply switched over to palm oil which, says the American Heart Association, is high in saturated fat. Well done, New York!
So now you can't smoke and you can't eat fatty foods. All that craving and hunger is making you thirsty. What you could really go for at this point is a nice, cool Coke.
Not so fast, Soda Boy. Soda's another nono.
According to the health commissioner of New York, Dr. Thomas Frieden, "Sugar-sweetened beverages (soda sweetened with sugar, corn syrup, or other caloric sweeteners and other carbonated and noncarbonated drinks, such as sports and energy drinks) may be the single largest driver of the obesity epidemic." We could tell people to use their best judgment and get some exercise, of course. Or, Dr. Frieden suggests, we could tax the hell out of these things.
Frieden notes that such taxes are not unheard of. Sadly, they're quite popular. According to Frieden, forty states already have "small taxes on sugared beverages and snack foods.... Because excess consumption of unhealthful foods underlies many leading causes of death, food taxes at local, state, and national levels are likely to remain part of political and public health discourse."
Predictably, Frieden is using his position as New York City's health commissioner to push for such taxes. Frieden says that a penny-perounce tax could decrease consumption by 10 percent and raise over $1.2 billion per year in the state. "Only heftier taxes," says the unelected New York Food Czar, "will significantly reduce consumption." Frieden even suggests how the tax should be levied: an excise tax, he says, will make consumers aware that they're paying extra for the sin of soda, whereas a per-ounce tax simply raises the price without informing the consumer why. And Frieden suggests, unsurprisingly, that the money raised be used to prevent obesity "for the children."
New York governor David Paterson, the profligate womanizer and political charlatan, originally embraced this sort of nonsense. He proposed an 18 percent tax on nondiet soda, stating that it would raise hundreds of millions for the state. But he dropped the proposal in March 2009 after the public rejected the idea as idiotic. Even Little Lord Bloomberg has rejected the proposal for the moment. But don't expect that opposition to last long. It's a recession, and the government wants cash. What better way to get it than to do something "for the children" while penalizing those who simply want a Mountain Dew?
The simple fact is that the government isn't interested in stopping smoking, or hamburgers, or Gatorade. They want people to continue consuming those products in order to fund their massive and growing control over the health care program in this country.
Well, I'm sick of subsidizing Big Government spending programs with my smoking. Why don't some of these liberals help out? They need to sacrifice, pitch in, and do their share. That's why I invite Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi the woman who saccharinely and sickeningly opened her speakership by stating that she was accepting her post "for the children.... For these children, our children, and for all Americans' children" to come out to Nevada, sit down with me, chug some Red Bulls, and gag down a few Camel Lights. In fact, let's have a smoke-a-thon. Whoever can wrap and smoke the most small cigars in a day will be given the honorary title "America's Biggest Patriot." As Joe Biden has said, paying taxes is patriotic.
Now that I think about it, smokers and drinkers really are "America's Biggest Patriots." So I think we're entitled to some long overdue respect.
And here's the thing: targeting a minority group in the United States is unAmerican. Perhaps the only thing liberals understand better than gibberish is legalese, so here's some legalese for them: under United States v. Carolene Products Co. (1938), it is unconstitutional to legislate against "discrete and insular minorities." Now I know that normally the Supreme Court thinks discriminating against economic minorities is okay that's why the rich minority pays all the taxes in this country.
But what I'm saying is this: you liberals acknowledge that we smokers are addicts. You know that we're driven by our biology to smoke up. And you liberals know that we who enjoy soda are driven to enjoy soda by our bodies' desire for glucose. So why is my desire for a cigarette, a burger, or sugary soda any less constitutionally protected than a woman's right to choose (Roe v. Wade)? After all, it's my body, isn't it?
In fact, in many ways, my rights should be more protected. After all, women who are hardly a "discrete and insular minority" get the protections of the ever-changing Constitution. Why not those of us who constitute a vast minority of the voting public? Why don't we get protection? Don't we deserve the freedom to choose?
I like smoking. I know it's not good for me. I know it's killing me. And yet I choose to do it anyway. I like eating greasy chili-cheese fries. I know it's not good for me. I know it's killing me. And yet I choose to do it anyway. I like lots of things that Little Lord Bloomberg, Henry Waxman, Ted Kennedy, and the Pleasure Police don't like. But why do they get to treat me as though I'm public enemy number one while profiting from my purchases? If they don't like my cigarettes, let them come take them from my cold, tobacco-stained fingers.
What's more, if they're going to use my Pleasure Tax dollars for something, it better not be to control my health care. If I can choose to smoke, I sure as hell can choose which doctor I want to see about my respiratory demise.
Cigarettes, soda, and trans fats are the low-hanging fruit. It's easy to institute popular "sin taxes," especially in a crappy economy you know, the "worst economy since the Great Depression." But let's pretend, for just one moment, that the government decided to raise taxes on red meat. Burgers. Steaks. Sausage. Hot dogs. Anything and everything with meat. (Okay, maybe that doesn't include hot dogs.)
It isn't that far-fetched. The "nanny staters" are constantly harping on the horrific effects of red meat. They act like the stuff is made of cyanide. And they say that red meat eating causes the production of baby cows and baby cows are like Kryptonite to the earth's Superman, since they produce tons of methane, which contributes to global warming. The sleazeballs at the United Nations are already calling for decreased consumption of red meat to help stop global warming. "Give up meat for one day (per week) initially, and decrease it from there," says Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And Joyce D'Silva, ambassador for compassion in world farming, says, "If we continue to consume meat and dairy at the current rate both animals and the planet will suffer."
So let's assume the Democrats take the U.N.'s lead and decide to start taxing red meat at a higher rate. Will Americans stand up then? Or will we continue to sleep?
How about when the liberals come for your water? I live in a desert in Nevada, where my water use is regulated. The local Water Police come to my house, evaluate my landscaping, and regulate how much water I can use to irrigate my backyard. I am allowed certain days a week when I can water my lawn and plants. Local officials drive around the neighborhood with a sensor to listen for running water on days that it is not permitted the Water Police.
Now, I understand that if everyone in Las Vegas ran their irrigation systems all the time, Lake Mead could potentially dry up. But there's a solution to that: privatize the water industry! If water usage started to run out of control, prices would rise and that would lower water usage. Instead, the government wants to control who gets water how, and how much water each person gets.
A few months ago, I was chastised by the Water Police for having forty-one palm trees and some grass in my backyard.
"You live in the desert, you know," they told me.
Yes, Sherlock, I know. I sort of figured that one out when I looked around and I was in the middle of a desert. And the temperature was 116 degrees in the shade. But if I wanted to live in a desert, with all that implies, I'd set up a tent in the dirt surrounded by brown dusty rocks. The whole point of using water is to make my house look less like a desert, and more like a tropical paradise. I'm willing to pay to do that. What business is it of the government whether I want to pay a few hundred dollars more to keep that forty-first palm tree alive? (I'm coming up with a solution to my landscaping problem, actually I'll just kidnap some spotted owls, plant them in the trees, and tell the Water Police that federal law requires that I keep their habitat unharmed. Take that, all you regulatory morons!)
Whether it's red meat or water, whether it's soda or French fries, whether it's health care or tobacco, the government is creeping incrementally toward total control over Americans' lives. It starts with the Pleasure Police, who use their power not to ban pleasure, but to severely circumscribe it with fines; they then use that confiscated cash to increase their control in other areas of American life like health care, in the name of the children. Soon they'll be coming after your air conditioning and the size of your toilet (again).
And they're not making any secret of their desire to control every aspect of your life. Barack Obama spoke in Portland, Oregon, on May 18, 2008. "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times...and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," said the future president. "That's not leadership. That's not going to happen."
I don't want to ask the government whether I can turn up my thermostat. Apparently, neither does Obama. According to senior advisor David Axelrod, Obama "likes it warm" in the Oval Office during winter so warm that "you could grow orchids in there."
Maybe the government is right that eating less red meat and drinking less Coke and slurping down less Crisco will make me live longer. Maybe they're right that smoking will be the death of me. But that isn't theirs to decide, it's mine. If I don't want to live my life that way, it's none of their business. It is thoroughly disturbing that Americans' freedom to make the most basic choices, right or wrong, is being eroded by our own elected officials.
Slowly our freedoms and liberties are being eroded like the rocks on the jetty. Texas governor Rick Perry came on the program recently. He used the analogy of a frog in a pot. The government, he said, gets the frog in the pot and slowly turns up the heat. Before the frog knows it, he's done.
This is what the liberal Congress and the president are doing to the American public. They're slowly turning up the heat. It makes us feel all nice and toasty warm. But before we know it, we're all beholden to the government, and our personal freedoms have been deep-fried. Too late to escape the slow government boil.
The freedom to choose how to live our lives is the basis of the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this country great. And that spirit is being eroded. Choices we make in our daily lives choices like what to eat, what car to drive, and at what temperature we keep our homes are being coopted by our elected officials. We're becoming dependent on government, enslaved to government, utterly reliant on government. If we don't defend our liberties now and that means liberty for fat people and red meat eaters and, yes, smokers there won't be any liberty left to save.
Copyright © 2010 by Jerry Doyle
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This guy... we need more like him if we are to stop the insanity from the status quo and the establishment. A complete overhaul of federal policies is needed. And Jerry Doyle knows this!
I love Jerry's show but always wanted to hear and know more. In this book you get a much better picture of who he is and what his thoughts are. He spells it out in an informative and often humorous way. It is much better than the other radio hosts who throw their radio shows into word form. Great first book.