The Federal Government Continues Its Attack on Independent Farms

Back in August I wrote a post about the federal governments attempt to require a commercial drivers license to operate farm equipment. That ruling was eventually tossed out but the federal government is continuing its attack on independent farms through other means. The latest move is being performed by the Department of Labor in the form of a new regulation that would prohibit teenagers under the age of 16 from working on a farm unless their parents are full or part owners:

Last September, the Labor Department had proposed requiring that children under the age of 16, who work on a parent’s farm could only work on that farm if it is “wholly owned” by the parent. But after protests from farm groups and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Department officials announced on Feb. 2 that they would repropose the rule and continue to allow children to work on a farm in which the parent is a part owner, a partner in a partnership, or an officer of a corporation that has a “substantial” ownership interest in the farm.

The decision represented a partial victory for farm and rural groups who have said the rule would make it impossible for rural youth to be trained in farming, doesn’t reflect modern ownership patterns, would make it impossible for grandchildren, nieces and nephews of farm owners to learn about farming and runs counter to Vilsack’s campaign to encourage young people to stay on the farm and in rural America.

I grew up in a rural community where many of my friends were hired farmhands. Their parents weren’t the owners or even partial owners of the farms and many of my friends weren’t 16 years-old yet. Age was considered an irrelevant criteria since both the kid and the parent agreed that the kid should be allowed to work.

While many people are bitching about the dangers work farm work let me say that the rate of injury isn’t nearly as high as the naysayers make it sound. Farming, like any job involving manual labor, does involve risks but those risks are usually avoidable so long as you use proper safety equipment. When I worked at my father’s autoshop I always engaged the locks on the hoist so that a failure would lead only to the vehicle falling a short distance until it hit the lock. A falling automobile is dangerous but the use of proper safety equipment mitigated that risk.

But let’s not kid ourselves, this new attempt at labor regulation has nothing to do with safety. Children are a much needed workforce for many independent farmers who can’t afford to pay wages demanded by older, more experienced farm hands (not to mention most adults move on, they seldom end up being farm hands for their entire lives). The only two options are hiring inexperienced individuals or illegal immigrants. Since the state frowns so heavily on the latter that leaves the former. Now that the state is frowning on the former as well independent farmers are being left with no option.

Large farms on the other hand can afford to hire more expensive labor since their profits are much higher. These farms can also afford lobbyists who can ask the government to make rules that hamper their small competitors. Like the state’s previous attempt to hamper small farming operations this new move is being done solely to rid the large lobbyist holding farmers of their much hated competition.

The arguments being used by the proponents of this new regulation are downright idiotic:

In the midst of the politics, the issues of child labor and safety seemed to get lost even though they are real.

Leppink, testified that 130 children, 15 years of age and younger, have died while working, and that 73 percent of these children were employed in agriculture.

So in the last 15 years 130 children have died while working but only 73 of those deaths were in the agriculture industry. That means only 4.9 children have died each year (if we spread the deaths out evenly) in the agriculture industry. While the death of any person is tragic there are for more dangerous things kids can do. 6,896 children died in 2007 in automobile accidents, that’s 1379.2 times greater than the average number killed in agriculture industry accidents (obviously my numbers are a bit loose, of course the order of magnitude is so great it doesn’t really matter). Perhaps our focus should be elsewhere when it comes to making the lives of children safer. How about the recreational sports most children enjoy:

Chris Chinn, a hog farmer from Missouri, testified that school sports activities are much more dangerous than working on the farm. Chinn said her daughters have been taken to the emergency room for school-related injuries but never for any farm injury. She also said grandparents should be allowed to supervise their grandchildren on the farm because they are even stricter than parents in what they will allow children to do.

Of course this ruling will probably make it through because it exists to “protect the children.”

Judge Orders Business Shutdown Because of Patron Actions

If anybody believes government doesn’t have too much power they are either insane or not paying attention. When a judge is able to force the closure of a business because of the actions of some patrons there is a major problem:

A judge approved a motion to temporarily shut down MugShots bar in Toledo on Tuesday. The move comes after six people were shot outside the bar early Monday morning. But believe it or not one of the victims is speaking out. “For them to want to close down, not just Mugshots, but any bar for other peoples actions, I don’t think that’s fair,” Lakeisha Carter said.

Carter was waiting in line outside Mugshots Bar when the shooting took place. She was shot twice, once in each leg. Police tell 13abc 20-year-old Rhaymoun Villolovos and his brother, 22-year-old Richard were kicked out of the bar after a fight. That’s when they allegedly grabbed their guns and started shooting. As a result, the city got a temporary restraining order that closed the bar.

“Mugshots is being looked at like the place to fight … but it’s happening everywhere,” Carter explained.

The problem here wasn’t the bar or the alcohol, it was the people who shot one another. Closing the bar because some patrons decided it was a jolly good idea to start blasting one another is a perfect example of punishing the wrong person (or people in this case since the bar employees won’t be receiving pay for the duration of the shutdown). Of course the judge is merely protecting the people form themselves with this order so everybody will be entirely fine with it.

I’m sure the anti-gunners are going to swoop in on this and claim it is an example of why allowing people to carry firearms into bars is a bad idea. What they won’t stop to determine is whether or not any of the initiators of violence even had carry permits.

Because They Have Nothing Better to Do

Is the name of your wireless access point something racist, bigoted, or otherwise offensive? If so you could find yourself subject of an investigation because the police apparently have nothing else to do:

A bigot named their WiFi signal “F— All Jews and N—-” — and now cops are investigating.

The hateful signal I.D. popped up on the iPhone of a 28-year-old mom inside a Teaneck, N.J. recreation center, where her 3-year-old daughter was attending dance class.

The offending signal was coming from a router connected in the Richard Rodda Community Center in the the township, located 10 miles outside New York City.


The woman, who is African-American, rushed to the office, and informed employees and other parents of the hateful WiFi connection.

Police were called, and when they responded they located the router in the rec center, township Police Chief Robert Wilson said.

You know what would have been a far saner solution? Had an employee of the Community Center simply located the access point and either unplugged it or renamed the network. It’s really a simple thing to do and doesn’t require calling the police in to investigate.

We Can’t Have Lawful Activity

Via Another Gun Blog I found another example of the state passing another law to make something that was legal illegal:

The state Senate this week is expected to vote on a bill barring school employees from having sex with students of any age.


The bill was sparked by concerns from prosecutors who said they were unable to charge teachers who had sex with students after the students turned 18, including one who waited until the day after the girl’s birthday before taking to her a hotel room.

You read correctly, because two consenting adults had sex a law is being rammed through to make the act illegal. Why the fuck not? There are just too many things one can do in life that aren’t yet illegal and we can’t have that. Sure an 18 year-old can vote, go to war, smoke cigarettes, act in porn, and buy a long gun but they can’t make such a mature decision as to who they will have sex with.

What really galls me about this law is the fact it’s being passed because two consenting adults had sex and some prosecutor thought they shouldn’t have. If people have their panties all in a bunch about a teach having sex with an 18 year-old student wouldn’t it have been easier to, I don’t know, fire the teacher? I know it’s an entirely crazy concept but I believe it should be looked into. Many companies have professional codes of conduct that employees are required to sign. You know what clause can be found in many of these codes of conduct? Prohibitions against having relationships with co-workers. In other words if you’re caught banging a fellow co-worker both of you can get fired.

Every time somebody says there ought to be a law there almost always shouldn’t.

Nanny State Moving to Ban All Portable Electronic Use by Automobile Drivers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Secretary Ray LaHood has been demanding a blanket ban on all cellphone usage by drivers, going so far as to advocate cell phone jammers be built-in to every automobile. Now things are heating up as NHTSA is officially pushing for a ban on all portable electronic usage, with the exception of GPS, while driving:

According to the NHTSA’s latest numbers, 3,092 people died in 2010 as the result of distracted driving, including talking on a cell phone or texting. While that number is down from 2009, when NHTSA reported 5,484 “distraction-related” traffic deaths, the numbers aren’t comparable because of a change in how the agency categorizes accidents. And despite laws in many states banning handheld cellphone use and texting while driving, a driver survey by NHTSA found that nearly half of drivers are still making calls from their phones, and 10 percent are still reading text messages.

Last year I analyzed NHTSA’s numbers and found their claims of cell phone usage increasing the rate of accidents to be entirely false:

Like I said if cell phone usage has been causing automobile accidents it should be noted on the total number of accidents yearly. The data published by the NHTSA goes from 1988 to 2008 which is what we’ll concern ourselves with. So how much have automobile accidents increased? Here’s the funny thing, they haven’t. In fact the number of accidents has been on a slight downward trend since 1988.

In 1988 the total number of automobile accidents was 6,887,000, in 1990 it was 6,471,000, in 1995 it was 6,699,000, in 2000 it was 6,394,000, in 2005 it was 6,159,000, and finally in 2008 it was 5,811,000. It seems the only correlation that exists between the increase in cell phone subscribers and automobile accidents is a slight downward trend (which I’m absolutely not implying is causality).

Inevitably this is where somebody will point out the reason for the downward trend are laws banning cell phone usages while driving. The problem is that isn’t true. From what I’ve been able to find the first law banning cell phone usage while driving was enacted in New York in 2001. The downward trend in automobile accidents has been going on since the late ’80′s at the very least. If the downward trend was occurring before the first law banning cell phone usage while driving was enacted that indicate a third party reason. In fact a recent study confirms exactly what I’m saying.

It’s nice when I’ve written so many posts that I can simply reference previous posts to explain a point. The bottom line is automobile accidents have been on the decline since, at least, the 1980s while the first law banning cell phone usage in automobiles wasn’t passed until 2001 meaning a third factor must be playing into the dropping accident rate. Banning the use of all personal electronics by drivers is nothing but knee-jerk nanny state malarkey. Stupid people do stupid things and passing a law banning the use of portable electronics by drivers isn’t going to fix anything (but will give the state more money in the form of citations and tickets which is probably the real reason behind this push).

If this passes people like myself will no longer even be able to use portable MP3 players to play music in their vehicle. As with most government regulations this one is entirely reactionary to a non-existing problem and has numerous unintended consequences.

More Militarization of Police Through Drone Usage

Militarization of the civilian police force is a continuing concern for many of us. What was supposedly a peace keeping force to ensure the protection of the populace has been twisted into a force to fight various domestic wars. Right now our civilian police force is fighting a war on drugs and domestic terrorism while ramping up for a war on counterfeit goods. As more of these domestic wars are declared by Congress the militarization of our civilian police force advances. Now along with armored personell carriers, SWAT teams, and machine guns the police are starting to openly use military drones:

Armed with a search warrant, Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went looking for six missing cows on the Brossart family farm on June 23. Three men brandishing rifles chased him off, he said.

Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three counties. He also called in a Predator B drone.

As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead, its sensors helped pinpoint the suspects, showing they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.

Let’s look at the threat versus the level of force used by the police. Three individuals brandishing rifles chased off a Sheriff looking for six cattle. In response to this the Sheriff called in a SWAT team, a bomb squad, deputies from three counties, and a military drone. Since when have three men with rifles required the use of a practical army? Let’s do a cost to benefits ratio on this. Deploying a massive force costs a lot of money whereas six cattle aren’t worth a dreadful amount. It would have been far more economical had the Sheriff’s department simply paid the farmer the value of his six cattle and called it a day.

Economics aside we also have the frightening reality of the police moving in with military equipment to deal with three lightly armed individuals. But the part that scares me the most is the deployment of a Predator drone. Why? Militarization of our police force seems to only creep in the direction of more. When the idea of SWAT teams were first conceived they were used only for the most dire circumstances and only a few forces maintained these teams. Eventually more departments started maintaining SWAT teams and their usage moved from dealing with heavily armed situations involving hostages to mere drug raids against unarmed individuals. Following historical models the deployment of this Predator drone likely means there will be a continuing increase of drone usage by civilian police forces.

What could this lead to? Possible an eventual continuous surveillance of major cities or, a far scarier possibility, the use of armed drones. We already have sheriffs jacking themselves off over the possibility of using armed drones. Now that one public case has been solved using a Predator drone I only see the usage of such hardware increasing. Eventually I see the use of armed drones becoming as common as the usage of SWAT teams today.

Welcome to the United Police State of America.

For Those Who Thought Zero Tolerance Was a Good Idea

Were you one of the people who thought zero tolerance in school was a good idea? If so you’re responsible for shit like this:

A 9-year-old boy North Carolina boy was suspended for calling a teacher “cute,” reports.

The boy’s mother, Chiquita Lockett, said the principal of Brookside Elementary in Gastonia called her after the incident to say the comment was a form of “sexual harassment.”

Apparently calling a girl cute is sexual harassment. Going back I wonder how many sexual harassments charges I should have against me under these new guidelines. Seriously the kid was nine fucking years old, I doubt he’s old enough to even know what sexual harassment is. Oh, and let’s not forget this gem:

The news of the North Carolina boy’s suspension comes as a Massachusetts elementary school is investigating a first-grader for sexual harassment after the boy struck another boy his age in the groin.

The mother of the accused 7-year-old tells the Boston Globe that her son was fending off another child, who had choked him in an altercation on the school bus on Nov. 22.

Sure why not? Hell we should just implement thoughtcrime while we’re at it. Can we make holding hands punishable under sexual harassment clauses while we’re at it? I mean there are still physical interactions out there where kids aren’t being nailed with sexual harassment charges and we can’t fucking have that.

Everybody who thought zero tolerance was a good idea please kindly hurl yourselves off of a cliff and save the rest of humanity from further stupidity.

So Much for the Dangers of Raw Milk

One of the lesser known battles in the pursuit of liberty involves the freedom to chose what you eat. The state has been cracking down hard on raw and organic food producers in the name of safety and one of their primary targets has been raw milk. We hear horror stories about the ill raw milk has inflicted upon the populace yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently was forced to admit not one person has been killed by ingesting raw milk for 11 years:

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refuses to acknowledge that, based on all available statistics, raw milk produced on clean, small-scale farms is actually far safer than pasteurized milk from factory farms. But the agency did admit earlier this year, after being pressed and warned of a potential Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request if it failed to comply, that not a single person has died from raw milk consumption in over a decade.

This may come as a shock to some who, because of all the propaganda about the alleged dangers of raw milk, are convinced otherwise, but it is true — one of the two deaths often cited by the CDC as evidence that raw milk is dangerous was actually linked to the consumption of raw queso fresco cheese, which is currently outlawed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And the other is likely linked to an adulterated raw milk product as well, rather than to raw milk.

Here’s the thing, you are the sole owner of your body and thus are the only one who should have a say in what gets put into it. If you don’t want to drink raw milke that’s fine but using force to prevent other people from doing it is abhorrent. The nanny state was out of hand ages ago but it’s only getting worse with news regulations passed, what seems like, every day that attempt to further restrict and control our behavior.

We’re On Our Way to Regulating Over-the-Counter Painkillers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released a new scare piece talking about how rampent prescription painkiller abuse is today:

Abuse of prescription painkiller have reached “epidemic” levels in the US, a government report says.

Overdoses of pain relievers cause more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined, the report has found.

This looks spuriously like another of those we-want-more-government-money-so-we’re-going-to-create-a-fear-mongering-report-justifying-that-need reports. Painkiller abuse is nothing new nor something that can be prevented but now the CDC is looking for something new to regulate so it’s the next thing on the list. After all their proposed “solution” to this “epidemic” will likely require new sweeping powers and the hiring of more government goons:

Officials believe state health policies can help reverse the trend.

The report recommends tracking prescriptions more carefully and cracking down on “pill mills” (clinics that prescribe drugs inappropriately) and “doctor shopping” (when patients collect prescriptions from several doctors).

“This highlights the importance of states getting policies right on preventing drug abuse,” CDC Thomas Frieden told the Associated Press news agency.

Here’s the thing, shutting down “pill mills” and stopping patients from “doctor shopping” isn’t going to prevent anybody from buying Tylenol and Advil at their local Target. Thus the only logical direction that can be derived from this report is, ultimately, the regulation of over-the-counter painkillers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the CDC eventually demands that currently over-the-counter painkillers be treated like medications containing pseudoephedrine are today.

I wonder what will happen when the federal government eventually regulates everything in the country. How will individual agencies jockey for more money and power then? It’s likely a very important problem that each agency is currently putting agents in charge of investigating.