A Perfect Example of the Nanny State

A large number in the libertarian movement often talk about the nanny state. Nanny state, for those of you unaware, is a term used to describe the government’s constant regulations claimed to be put into place to “protect consumers.” In actuality these regulations are nothing more than means of extracting more money from people in the form of permits and license. The state of New York is one of the biggest nanny states out there and that point can’t be made clearer than by looking at their ban on cutting cheese in the open air:

The state Agriculture Department is enforcing a ban on slicing cheese in the open air – and shoppers complain that the regulation means pre-packaged cheese, which defeats the purpose of buying fresh.

That has to be one of the dumbest regulations put into place anywhere (please don’t point out dumber regulation to me, I’ve already developed a strong enough distaste for government). Obviously this regulation was put into place under the guise of protecting consumers, after all there is no other way such a stupid regulation could get pushed through:

“We do not want dirty utensils used at farmers’ markets,” Ziehm said.

“There are many risks involved in slicing cheese in an open-air market. The product could be exposed to the elements, to bacteria and germs, while it’s not wrapped,” she added.

That sounds to me like she’s saying you shouldn’t have picnics because there are lots of dangers involved. Shit I think I gave the New York government another idea of something to require licensing for. If you look at this requirements for getting a license to cut cheese you’ll notice is has protectionism written all over it:

A state regulation on the books since the 1970s requires what’s called an Article 20-C license to slice cheese for commercial sale – and it applies to Greenmarket vendors, Ag Department spokeswoman Jessica Ziehm said.

Vendors can obtain the license only if they slice cheese in a “permanent” building that excludes pests such as flies and has hot and cold running water and a three-compartment sink.

Although I’m unaware of the cost of this Article 20-C license I’m betting it doesn’t come cheap. Likewise this regulation ensures only businesses with established locations are able to get the required license. That means small independent farmers who sell their goods as temporary locations like farmers’ markets are unable to sell cheese outside of the pre-packaged variety. This means that consumers are often unable to get a small amount of cheese from the independent farmers and thus will go to established locations to obtain the small amount that they truly desire. It’s an effective means for government to ensure business flows to those it favors.

Government always find ways to justify their “consumer protection” schemes which almost always turn out to be schemes to protect established businesses from competition.