Did the Founding Fathers intend to create a nanny state?

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Facing an impending ban on 100-watt incandescent light bulbs, I headed to the hardware store in mid-December to stock up. I even bought the kind with double the life so I could stretch my supply as long as possible. Then, came a temporary reprieve — on Dec. 16, Congress agreed to delay implementation of the light bulb standards from Jan. 1 to next October.

Still, I am left wondering: why is the government intervening at all?

In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act which mandated more efficient light bulbs, leading to the eventual demise of the incandescent light bulbs in favor of those silly squiggly things known as compact fluorescent lamps.

That was the same legislation that greatly expanded the ethanol mandate — and we all know the trouble that has caused livestock producers because of its effects on corn prices.

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, did they intend for Congress to get involved in the type of products we buy? Is Congress supposed to pick winners and losers in the marketplace?

I say this in light of another matter: The U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed regulations on child labor on farms.

The proposed regulations set restrictions on the type of agricultural work that can be done by youth under the age of 16. For instance, the regulations would prohibit them from “operating or assisting to operate” farm machinery over 20 PTO horsepower, working at elevations over 6 feet, or working near manure-storage areas.

The regulations do not apply to sons or daughters of the farm’s owner. However, it will be more difficult to recruit nieces, nephews and children in the community.

Criticism of the proposed regulations reached a point in mid-December where U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack felt compelled to respond.

“We all know that kids benefit from good old-fashioned farm work,” Vilsack said. “It’s a longtime way of life that has helped make this country strong, and it teaches kids lessons that last a lifetime.

“However, statistics show that while only 4 percent of working youth are in the agricultural sector, 40 percent of fatalities of working kids are associated with machines, equipment, or facilities related to agriculture. That’s way too high. We don’t want to blur the line between teaching kids about a good day’s hard work and putting them in situations more safely handled by adults,” Vilsack added.

Interestingly, Vilsack also had to explain the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s intentions — or non-intentions — when it comes to regulating dust on farms.

“EPA is not now, nor has it ever proposed regulating dust,” he said in comments posted on the USDA’s blog site.

Perhaps the child-labor regulations or the dust regulations are not as onerous as first reported. Yet, it does seem that the number of regulations coming out of Washington has picked up in recent years, leading to the question: Did the Founding Fathers really intend all of this?

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MO  |  January, 04, 2012 at 11:52 AM

To answer the question; No! The founding fathers intended just the opposite. The intension was freedom and freedom is what is lost with any law or regulation. The purpose of a law is to prohibit an activity. Everyone wants to protect the children but that is a parent’s job, not the governments. The biggest problem is that we have all become addicted to government aid in one form or another instead of seeing it for the monster that it is. We have gotten to the point that we think it is ok for our government to outlaw certain forms of parenting (spanking for example) because we want to protect the children. But who protects the children from an oppressive government that taxes them into poverty in order to protect them? This has got to stop. We have all said it: “There should be a law” against whatever is making you mad at the time. But think about how many freedoms have been removed in the last few years. Are we really going to go all the way to socialism where everyone is equally poor except for the government? I beg everyone to study the economics of nations that have tried socialism (or communism for that matter). The outcomes are all the same. Most recent is Greece. For those of you who think that socialism would be ok I want you to consider one fact: The only difference between communism and socialism is how you get there. Socialism is embraced by the people as a form of equality. Communism is forced on the people as a form of equality. In either case they both lead to destruction of the people. Those who would argue otherwise are ignorant of history.

PA  |  January, 04, 2012 at 02:27 PM

And communism/socialism breeds another problem. Since no one can get ahead; no one will try. And the less interest in doing more or anything at all will lead to "Big Nanny Gubment" having to do it all for us. Who will pay the bills then?

Vic Cox    
Minnesota  |  January, 04, 2012 at 02:49 PM

Mention of socialism and communism is nothing more than a scare tactic. If one wants to get rid of regulation where does one stop? Should we get rid of drunk driving laws so drunks have more freedom? Or should we get rid of all taxes and thus get rid of government itself by taking away all means of paying for government? Are we humans all so good that we don't need the collective wisdom of our peers to tell us where we do err? I would assert that none of us is perfect and the wisdom of the majority is not perfect either but better than the wisdom of any one of us. Democracy is about the wisdom of the majority, communism is about the pompous wisdom of a few.

MN  |  January, 05, 2012 at 04:09 AM

Communism & Socialism should "scare" us. No other experiment in government in the last 1000 years has caused more misery & human suffering. Read "Animal Farm" by George Orwell. I would rather be a victim of my own stupidity than live my life in the the bonds of "collective wisdom".

Michael Dancer    
Shepherd Michigan  |  January, 05, 2012 at 01:01 PM

I started driving tractor at nine years old. I have a cousin who started at seven and was driving a Case 4-wheel tractor at eight doing the plowing and field work. At nine he harvested corn with a MF 4 row self propelled combine all by himself. Today my son and him farm 3000 acres and are doing just fine. Teach your kids to do things right and there will be know problems.

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