Columnist Melanie Sturm needs to Think Again
July 1, 2012
Aspen Times conservative columnist Melanie Sturm, of “Think Again,” routinely embellishes Fox News-like talking points with a mixture of point-of-view fact interpretation and popularized cliches, designed to tune up an off-pitch choir and rile up low-information ding-dongs. In “Dislike soda bans? Then restore the Constitution” (June 21), Melanie’s Sturm and Drang deserves comment.
She links such pregnant chestnuts as “banning,” “Leviathan government” “sovereign states and individuals” and “restore the constitution” together to say that our life, liberty and property are in jeopardy of being taken away by big government and that states should decide what they want to do rather than Washington. Her hard-hat phrases, such as “there is nothing so bad that politicians can’t make it worse,” are loaded for bear.
In championing states’ rights as an antidote to big government, conservatives and Melanie are trying to roll back the legacy of the U.S. Civil War, which 620,000 Americans died fighting over whether the federal government could trump states’ rights. Since the Union won, the federal concept became the United States is, rather than the united states are (this distinction might be missed if texted without upper case). Generally, states can add laws that make federal laws more strict, but they can’t pre-empt federal laws, as we’ve seen in the Supreme Court’s recent Arizona immigration decision. And now, the “interventionist sweep of the Affordable Care Act,” which Melanie decried, turns out to be constitutional.
As an example of runaway government, she mocks New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban sales of 16-ounce sugary drinks to reduce obesity, asking, “How long before the federal government deems a 32-ounce soda oversized, or, worse, a $320,000 salary excessive?” What if the feds overreached even further and made flag burning, same-sex marriage and abortions illegal? Would conservatives be in favor of liberal states passing their own laws to the contrary?
Actually, Bloomberg was not proposing a federal law against 16-once sodas but rather a city law, which brings me to a modest proposal: If conservative thinking were carried through and lawmaking was pushed down to local levels and away from central authority – the Civil War notwithstanding – then county governments should balk at state mandates and demand their right to decide what’s best for their county rather than their state. Next, cities and towns could logically say, “Hey, you counties can’t tell us what to do. We’ll make our own laws (Bloomberg’s sugary drinks).” Finally, sovereign families around the kitchen table could say, “Screw you cities and towns, counties, states and federal government. We’re trading chickens for health care, home-schooling the kids, not paying taxes and ignoring your rules.” But praying and chores would be mandatory.
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Free enterprise finally would flourish without government regulations, and life, liberty and property would be protected by militias and homeowners bearing arms.