My Two Cents: Legislative hubris running rampant across America

Lord Acton observed in the 19th century that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Considering a recent spate of ideas from legislators across the nation – not to mention our own state Legislature – it must also make some people stupid.

Consider these gems:

– On the heels of the Legislature increasing the state sales tax and income tax, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, a Democrat from the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, has proposed a one percent tax on junk food, video games and television commercials aimed at children. This so-called “fat tax” is meant to discourage eating junk food and provide money for government efforts to prevent obesity. Ortiz – because he apparently knows what is best for everyone – has not ruled out proposing tax increases on other things that he believes contribute to obesity. Wow, Felix wants to raise taxes more and get the government further involved in social engineering! He is also unwisely alienating the fat person voting block, which is made up of almost every American if recent studies are to be believed.

– Meanwhile, Cynthia Carter, an Annapolis, Md. alderwoman, has earned the wrath of the National Toy Rifle Association by proposing legislation that would ban most toy guns in the city except for clear, brightly colored plastic guns (which most boys would modify to look more realistic…I know I did). Parents whose children were caught playing with the toys outdoors would be fined. Carter, a Democrat, has a history of campaigning against the menace of toy firearms, which kill zero people every year because they’re not real! What’s next – legislation aimed at shutting down kids’ lemonade stands for not having the proper business permits?

– Finally, here in Washington state, the Legislature – which is to be commended for passing a general fund budget that does not raise taxes – voted in favor of a 5-cents-a-gallon gas tax to fix the state’s ailing transportation system. Never mind that in November 2002 voters rejected Referendum 51, which included a 9-cents-a-gallon gas tax for transportation projects. The Legislature, of course, views this as saving consumers 4-cents-a-gallon!

No doubt Lord Acton is rolling over in his grave.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who has no intention of ever running for public office – gets in his two cents worth, in direct contravention of the old saying that you only get a penny for your thoughts.