Monday, September 21, 2009

Posting Up Nanny Mike

One of the more compelling reasons to retire Mike Bloomberg is because of his propensity to hire the most meddlesome kinds of health commissioners-and the new Dr, Tom is, as have already pointed out, just as kooky as the old. Here's the NY Post's take on our new Dr. Nanny: "Will Mayor Bloomberg and his newest Dr. Buttinsky ever let New Yorkers live in peace? Don't bet on it. Indeed, Mike's new health commissioner, Tom Farley, seems determined to top the impressive imperial record of his predecessor, "King" Tom Frieden -- in dispensing increasingly intrusive, heavy-handed healthy-living "advice." Based, of course, on their definition of "healthy living."

You'd think that Mike Bloomberg would have better things to do than intervening in the life choices of the less enlightened-like remediating the epidemic of neighborhood store foreclosures; or fixing the watered down school test scores so we can get a really accurate measure of how well the schools are actually doing. But it appears that Mike really believes that the unwashed need to be out through the Bloomberg healthy rinse cycle-for their own good, of course.

As the Post points out: "Farley, meanwhile, is now pushing exercise regimens -- partly by introducing even more bike lanes in the city. What next -- banning cars? (Oops: Better not give them any ideas.) And don't think Nanny Mike and Dr. Tom the Second are done with their war on tobacco. Not by a long shot. Unable to accept the fact that cigarettes remain legal, they continue to search for ways to ban smoking piecemeal. They're now toying with the idea of making it verboten in public parks and beaches. Democracy? Fuhgeddaboutit. This is administrative dictatorship -- plain and simple."

It sure is-and the extent to which this becomes an impingement on basic democratic liberties will depend on the level of push back the public gives to the latest set of intrusions; and whether or not the health commissioner knows where to draw the line. Jacob Weisberg, writing in Slate, makes this case: "To exhort, nag, nudge, tax, and regulate people for the sake of diminishing purely self-destructive behavior is defensible. But to take choices away on the grounds that people should know better is infantilizing—and likely to hurt those who bear the cross of favoring more intrusive government. Liberals should show restraint, lest the right to be stupid go up in smoke."

The Post, however, really nails the Bloomberg mind set; and predicts, we believe, just the kind of over reach that Wiesberg warns us us about: "Mayor Mike is often accused of having a tin ear to public complaints. In truth, he hears perfectly well. He just doesn't care. And that should outrage all New Yorkers." And cause them to have some second thoughts about giving this guy a third term.