From Stem to Stern
The Free Agent wonders how naughty New Yorkers were before she moved here that in the political equivalent of dialing Nanny 911, they elected Michael Bloomberg as mayor. In almost nine years since he established Flowertown (term limits, schmerm limits!), the tentacles of governance have crept up to Floweridians’ every conceivable orifice.
Prepare for uncharacteristic indelicacy on The Free Agent’s part.
In 2006, Bloomberg’s ban of trans fats in New York restaurants began. Suppression of smoking through taxation has not only more than doubled the cost of cigarettes—an SNL sketch from 2001 shows a pack of smokes costing $4.40, compared to over $10 today—but incubated a black market. In 2008, all food in chain restaurants joined the demon ranks of cigarettes and liquor in being required to discourage their own sales by prominently posting calorie counts. (Although The Free Agent might support such candor in political advertising. Imagine a billboard at your polling place warning that casting your vote could lead to amputation of your property and civil rights.)
This year, a proposed state soda tax withered under heavy industry artillery fire. And The Free Agent’s co-Boroughist brought a rain of well-deserved national ridicule down on the city by trying to ban the ur-ingredient, salt, in Flowertown’s restaurants. Bloomberg did not support a ban, but never said it was beyond his authority. He settled on a taxpayer-financed anti-salt ad campaign.
For all his posturing about being the only man with enough big-business experience to weather us through the financial crisis, Bloomberg takes exquisite, some might say a perverse, interest in what The Free Agent sips, nibbles, or puffs.
He justifies this by inventing a responsibility for extending Floweridians’ life spans. A sneaking suspicion arises that Bloomberg might be trying to keep those who elected him to his previously-thought-to-be-illegal third term alive forever. New Yorkers already live longer than the average American, and between 1999 and 2007, our estimated life spans increased by 2.2 years. The Free Agent isn’t one of these tragic creatures who equate maturation with personal failure, and she thinks aging 6 years for every 8 lived is quite a bargain.
Which brings us to the end of the . . . story. In 1994, the EPAct banned the type of robust indoor commode which made this country great. The standard appliance of the time used between 5 and 10 gallons per flush, which has been reduced since then to about 1.6 gallons. But like first generation anti-smoking laws, that was the thin edge of the wedge, and the toilet trainers are once again venturing where the sun don’t shine. (The Free Agent warned you, but she has her duty.) A New York legislator who shall remain nameless because The FA didn’t catch her name, was touting a pay-per-flush taxation scheme. “I’m a legislator,” she said, “my job is to write legislation. This doesn’t take anything away from anybody, it just gives people a choice.” Since water and sewage are already city monopolies which set the rates, The Free Agent wishes to correct this new addition to her enemies list (who must for now be listed as Representative Doe). What she wants is to make even the very personal political. Before you depress that chrome lever, stop. Think. It’s rumored every flush turns one of Al Gore’s whiskers gray.
With Flowertown policing the alpha and the omega of the body politic, it should not have come as any surprise that we could not protect all that comes between from the health nannies on Capitol Hill.