Memorial Day

Today we pause to thank those who paid a terrible price for the freedom we readily enjoy.  May you rest in peace, and may we always prove worthy of your sacrifice and the heavy burden of loss borne by your loved ones.

Half Baked Ideas Yield Half Baked Policy

Recently the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found much unwanted media attention when it revealed plans to implement new nutritional guidelines that would effectively ban bake sales in state schools.

First the quick back story:

1. Citing statistics that 1/3 of Massachusetts children are obese, the state legislature passed and the governor signed, a law restricting the sale of sugary and fried foods one half hour before the start of and one half hour after the end of the school day.

2. Unelected, and often unaccountable regulators in the Department of Public Health decided to pressure schools to make the ban go into effect 24/7, going beyond the legislative intent (and authority) of the bill.

3. Media firestorm ensues, and the regulations manage to do something rarely seen in politics: unify both parties to pass, UNANIMOUSLY, a bill to overturn the regulations.

Obesity is a health issue; on this point we agree. But what is concerning is the state government’s approach to flexing the power of government to address obesity. We understand from one of the below sources that the ban would have extended to removing items such as pizza, 2% milk, and white bread from school cafeterias.

As usual, regulation often brings with it unintended consequences, and this case was no different. The ban would have also impacted the ability of boosters, PTAs, and school sports teams to raise money for additional program costs. As usual, regulators acted with what they believed to be good intentions, but government and policy must be judged on results and consequences, not hoped-for outcomes and best intentions.

Fortunately in this case, the new regulations were met with such an outcry that they were scaled back. But not all proposed rules have a strong following as PTA groups and booster clubs. How many rules went into effect that the public doesn’t even know about? At a federal level, unelected bureaucrats propose and issue rules via the Federal Register.  The Code of Federal Regulations maintains a collection of these rules, and if actually printed out would be more than 165,000 pages.  (The original US Constitution was only 4 pages.)

The Massachusetts case illustrates an oft repeated saying “if the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, then every problem starts to look like a nail.” Citizens must take more personal responsibility for their own decisions so that bureaucrats like those in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health don’t feel the invitation to get involved and “help” where they’re neither needed nor wanted.

News Sources:

Submissions for Anthology Are OPEN!

Freedom Forge Press is now accepting submissions for its inaugural anthology. Forging Freedom will feature fictional short stories, non-fiction accounts, and essays of up to 5,000 words on the broad topic of individual freedom and liberty.

We are looking for inspirational non-fiction accounts of people who have had to earn their freedom, defend it, or have lost it and had to regain it. For example, individuals who have left a home country to escape political or economic restrictions and find a better life by starting over have a story to tell.  Have you or someone you know ever stood up to the government on an issue of fundamental freedoms? (Fictionalized true stories accepted.)

We will also consider works of fiction. Stories and accounts may be from all political leanings as well as apolitical leanings; may take place in any setting or time period (past, present, or future) on planet earth.  Science fiction will also be considered, but if an other-worldly setting is used, it should be identified early in the story.  All genres will be considered except for erotica.  Compelling, well-written stories stand the best chance of success. Examples may include (but are not limited to) stories with characters such as Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark and Dagny Taggart as protagonists or perhaps George Orwell’s cautionary 1984 with characters such as Winston, Julia and O’Brien.  Gaining freedom as a happy ending or losing it as a cautionary tale fits what we are looking for.

We will also consider essays written on the topic of individual freedom and liberty. Essays should be written in an accessible style that is easy for a reader to relate to and should be specific and personal rather than general and academic. Brilliant essays that are not accessible to a general audience and focus too heavily on academic techniques will receive a pass in favor of more accessible prose.

This work is intended for general audiences, so keep your submissions at a PG-13 rating. Submissions should be compelling, easy-to-read, and relevant to a wide audience.

Please send your submissions as an attachment in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format using double-spaced 12-point font to submissions <at> freedomforgepress <dot> com

Stories will be short-listed on a rolling basis, but final decisions will not be made until after the deadline. Submissions will close on January 31, 2013 but may be extended if needed to fill the anthology to an acceptable level. Please, no simultaneous submissions or reprints—works must be original and not previously published in electronic or print format.

Payment for accepted works will be a contributor copy, plus a $10 advance payment against royalties earned.  In addition, contributors will have the opportunity to purchase copies at a contributor discount for personal use or to sell for self-promotion purposes.  Royalties will be calculated as 40% of net price received per book sold after expenses are paid and will be distributed to contributors with each contributor receiving one share per accepted work.

All payments will be submitted in USD funds via check or PayPal approximately 45 days after book publication.

The book is slated for release July 4, 2013.

Publisher states the preceding terms as a good faith approximation of the anthology project and may, at its discretion, amend the terms, including payment arrangements, as necessary up to the point where contracts are mutually agreed to and signed by contributors and publisher.

Deadline Extended to 5/31 for Non-Fiction Blog Entries

FFP is holding a contest for the best response to this prompt. Your non-fiction entries will be collected until midnight (EST) on 05/31/12. Check our Submission Guidelines page for more details, and submit your entry to submissions (at) freedomforgepress (dot) com.

Not a Good News Day for the Department of Justice

Headlines have not been the Attorney General’s friend lately and one doesn’t have to venture too far into the news day to see why.

First the LA Times prints a story involving Daniel Chong, a student at UC San Diego, who was “brought in for questioning” and then left in a holding cell unattended for 5 days. Chong survived by drinking his own urine and spent three days in the intensive care unit to be treated for kidney failure.  Guilty or not, such treatment is certainly undeserved and displays a stunning lack of competent procedures and a failure of leadership. The incident also is an opportune time to ask if the federal government’s “war on drugs” is an appropriate power for the federal government to wield. Though a topic for another day, legalized drugs would put “bad guys” out of business and allow the government to do what it does best: regulate it and tax it.

Speaking of drugs, in a dazzling display of federal obtuseness toward federalism (which we’ll define here as a clear separation between federal and state powers) was on display in California.  The State of California, not generally known for its embracing of economic freedoms, has declared medical marijuana a legal activity if it takes place entirely within the state. Other states have followed suit (notably Washington state, Colorado, and Montana). The federal government disagrees! And because the federal government is not authorized to compel state and local authorities to enforce its laws, the federal behemoth mustered its own resources to file asset forfeiture suits and otherwise harass more than 150 medical marijuana stores in a region with Santa Barbara at its center.

I still say, it’s safer to buy drugs in a store than from a neighborhood drug dealer. Imagine for a moment what life would be like if you had to find cash and risk being arrested each time you sought out a Coke dealer anytime you felt the urge for a soda. Oh yes, pun very much intended! And as the government gathers more power and resources to do its bidding how long do you think it will be before soda is removed from shelves if the government continues down the path of providing health care with the record deficits that we currently have?

It makes you want to call a friend to argue the issue of drug legalization doesn’t it? But caution, dear reader! This takes us to the third story of the day in the trifecta of the Justice Department’s really bad news day. The Administration now wants more freer access to your cell phone records. One of the debate points surrounds the question of when a warrant is needed in order to monitor phone usage. This one seems simple: as a general rule, if the federal government wants to peep, then it has to demonstrate probable cause to a judge and obtain a warrant. Anything less is an unacceptable assault on freedom.

Taken together as a set, one has to wonder if the Justice Department is suffering from a leadership deficiency or is downright hostile to individual liberty.