Acton Institute Powerblog


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Writing in the London-based Times, Chris Ayres in “Welcome to Nannyfornia” looks at the “frenzy of puritanical edicts from California’s politicians” that cover a host of sins, ranging from transfats to the highly objectionable use of the terms “Mom” and “Dad.”

Ayres raises a “disturbing” question:

Is Nannyfornia providing us with a glimpse of what Obama’s America might look like? After all, Obama is a classic banner. He recently proposed banning all toys from China. He banned his own staff from wearing green clothing during his recent trip to the Middle East (green is the colour of the Hamas flag). He banned the New Yorker magazine from his press plane after it depicted him as a terrorist in a political cartoon. He wants to ban “excessive” profits by raising capital gains tax. Why? Because he thinks it’s fair. No matter that the state’s revenues from the tax have always gone up whenever the rate has been lowered.

Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Association, is one of many Americans who fears all this prohibition is going too far. “The Government here in California is banning a food product simply because it’s not healthy,” he complains. “What do you ban next? Bacon fat? The possibilities are limitless.”

Read “The Sin Tax: Economic and Moral Considerations” by the Rev. Robert A. Sirico on the Acton Web site. Quote:

It is a mistake to entrust the modern state with the enforcement of certain moral codes of behavior that extend beyond obvious crimes against person and property. When government is allowed to go beyond these limits and enforce a wider array of moral issues, it will substitute its own form of morality for traditional morality. A government program like recycling, for example, could be deemed more morally worthy than traditional virtues like fidelity in marriage. Obeying securities regulations could be seen as the very heart of virtue, whereas teaching children at home seen as a vice. The government’s sense of morality, especially when it is influenced by excessive power, is often at war with traditional standards and common sense.

Also see “Cigarette Tax Burnout” in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Democrats are planning one more pre-election go at a $35 billion children’s health program expansion (S-chip) funded by a 61-cent per pack tobacco tax increase. They justify the new levy as a “sin tax.” OK, but if Americans don’t start sinning a whole lot more, states and Uncle Sam are going to go broke.

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • Tracy

    As I reflect on the recent bans in San Francisco where I live close by, I notice in such a dense populated area the bans of disposable items such plastic grocery bags and banning cigeratte smoking in public parking has really set Californians back on consumer purchasing in the recents bans. State of CA purposely banned cigirette smoking inorder to reduce a huge public health issue for smoking teens, second hand smoking and litter problems cigarette butts thrown on public property. The city pays a lot of money to clean the trash but in the long run consumer pay the big price whether it is for cigarette butts, plastic bags, paper cups and other disposalbe items so the product can created and disposed.
    As the consumers purchases these products the process of creating then disposing these products in not a win win issues. The producer not able to create a product that is easily disposed or reused again effects the consumer/ city and even the environment to finds ways to dispose these products. All these issues are costly to everyone.
    The same with transfat foods. Food producers should find new alternative foods that are good to eat and also healthy instead of using the goverment to limit there product. The situation is not a win-win situation.

    The same applies to Obama, the goverment should find other measures to creatively encourage the Chinese to produce products with proper work ethics and work labor rights.