Doug Gamble- Contributor
Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and
in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]
Big Brother State
Legislating away our lives...
As another Independence Day fades into history, Californians
should ponder the fading of our freedoms.
love to talk about limitless opportunities and broad horizons,
portraying the state as a place where anything
is possible. Yet the Legislature continues to craft and pass
laws that in one way or another restrict what’s left of
The latest assault
on freedoms comes in a spate of bills that appears to reflect
the Puritan concern that someone out there
somewhere might be having fun. If you’re a kid who wants
to buy soda pop in public schools, lie in a tanning booth or
ride a motor scooter without a license, or an adult who enjoys
bodysurfing behind a boat or who wants to hold a cell phone to
your ear while driving, good luck.
currently have all of these activities, and others, in their
crosshairs. It isn’t just Big Brother
government anymore; it is fast becoming old mother hen. Sacramento
is saying, “We know better how to raise children than parents
do, and adults are so irresponsible we have to protect them from
If anything, intrusive
bills now under consideration or already passed prove the theory
of the slippery slope, the fear that
if one freedom is taken away, others will follow. For example,
not content with forcing children to wear helmets while riding
bicycles, California passed a law in 2002 expanding helmet laws
to apply to kids who ride roller skates, in-line skates, non-motorized
scooters and skateboards. I’d make a sarcastic aside about
youngsters needing a helmet to get out of bed in the morning,
but it might give some politician an idea.
The same principal
applies to smoking. It wasn’t enough
to ban smoking in restaurants, so it eventually had to be eliminated
in bars. Now we find that banning it in bars isn’t sufficient,
so it has to be forbidden on beaches and in cars carrying children.
Disallowing smoking in private homes is the obvious next outrage
in the continuous slide down the slippery slope.
One oasis of sanity
in Sacramento’s desert of do-gooders
is Irvine Republican Assemblyman John Campbell who was quoted
as saying, “Kids love to ride scooters, fast, down a hill.
Yeah, you might fall and skin your knee. Take reasonable precautions.
But don’t tell kids they can’t ride down the hill.
That’s part of life, part of being a kid.” He added
that risk-free lives would be fun-free lives.
They would also be progress-free lives. Attempts to legislate
against risk fly in the face of an American psyche that is always
looking for the next mountain to conquer. The building of a great
nation, from the Revolutionary War to the movement west to the
expansion of free enterprise to the exploration of space, all
depended on the willingness to take risks.
Politicians who try to stifle normal childhood instincts and
who believe laws should supercede the ability of adults to make
life choices would create a society wrapped in a bubble of suffocating
security, where little is gained because little is ventured.
Such pols are midgets who, unable to leave any significant mark,
attach their names to nit-picking legislation as a way of fooling
themselves into believing they have made a positive contribution
And they are certainly not restricted to California. Fearing
bacteria, New Jersey legislation banned restaurants from serving
eggs sunny side up. In parts of Ohio, children are not allowed
to go trick-or-treating without a special permit. And in one
of the more infuriating examples of government interference,
federal law mandates that all new toilets use no more than a
measly 1.6 gallons of water when flushing.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once famously
said that the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.
When the state is even in your bathroom, that flushing sound
you hear is your freedoms.CRO
California-based Doug Gamble contributed speech material to
Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and writes a twice-monthly
column for the Orange County Register and CaliforniaRepublic.org.
2004 Doug Gamble