Wednesday, March 20

Plenty of Circuses?

Wasn't it Joseph Stalin who said that if you want to control a population, and not let them get too involved in what the government is doing (or not doing) they should have plenty of circuses to distract them?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City is certainly providing plenty of distractions. Fresh off the defeat of his soda ban, Bloomberg now wants to do away with ear buds, the kind you use on your iPod or other similar listening devices, because people listen to music too loudly and that makes them go deaf. And that's bad. He wants to spend $250,000 to study the problem further. Once again, a politician thinks he knows how you can live your life better than you can.

It is not the government's role to tell me how to live my life, either at home, in the bedroom, or anywhere else. But as this country enters into an era of taxpayer-funded government health care, we will see more and more of government regulating behavior, because the more people need medical care, the more resources are drained. The best way to keep resources from being drained is to limit non-emergency needs, such as hearing loss from loud music devices, or the effects of too much junk food and soda.

There was a time when there were other authorities in people's lives that regulated and corrected behavior (such as parents), but we don't see that much nowadays. But here is where we get distracted from a real problem. Soda bans and ear buds and their associated arguments for and against are circuses, and we best not spend too much time on them.

Recall a recent article, which barely received any coverage, reporting that 80% of New York City high school graduates are unable to read or perform basic math, for which they require retraining before they can move on to college. Education in the United States is in a painful state of disrepair. We keep throwing money at schools, and we continue to deify teachers, but the problem remains unsolved. Kids who can't read grow up to be adults who can't read and people who can't read don't learn, and as a consequence also don't think. When you have a population that does not think, you need a government who can think for them and take care of them. Enter people like Michael Bloomberg who believe that is their purpose in life.

This reminds me of when the Bible was only available in Latin, but the common people couldn't read Latin, so they required Church Leaders to tell them what the Bible said. Thus, the Church had control. Perhaps that is where the United States is heading, with Government replacing the church. When there is a central government controlling the population, you don't have freedom. Maybe that's what needs to happen in this country. Maybe when freedom is taken away, we'll respect it more and demand it back, and we'll have another 230 years of freedom before we fight this battle again. History has a nasty habit of repeating itself.

ABOUT: Brian Drake is the author of The Rogue Gentleman and co-host of "Drake & The Deacon" on RadioSlot.Com. Read more of his commentary at Today's Tom Sawyer (

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