The Cupcake Commissars
by Mark Steyn • Jan 30, 2014 at 8:17 am • updated Jan 30, 2014 at 9:04 am
I learn, via a Tweet from Walid Zafar, that "Mark Steyn... specializes in whipping right-wing readers into a froth of know-nothing indignation." So once more unto the breach!
After America (a personally autographed copy of which can be purchased here, he pleads) has an entire section on the state's relentless crackdown on children's lemonade stands, church bake sales and the like. It's called "As UnAmerican As Apple Pie", and begins with a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspector's raid on the Friday-night fish fry at St Cecilia's Church in Rochester, at which he declared 88-year-old Mary Pratte's homemade coconut cream pie, Marge Murtha's apple pie, Josie Reed's pumpkin pie, and Louise Humbert's raisin pie verboten in the Keystone State. The Coconut Cream Commissar informed the ladies they could only bake pies for church fundraisers if they paid $35 for a permit and agreed to have the kitchens at their homes inspected by him. As I wrote in my book:
If you're not, per Mr Zafar, "frothing with indignation", you should be. What's the point of a First Amendment and a Second Amendment if a cowed citizenry meekly goes along with the proposition that a seven-year-old girl selling lemonade on her front lawn requires the approval of the state? Today, Reason's Zenon Evans brings us the tale of an 11-year old girl in the woefully misnamed jurisdiction of Madison County, Illinois:
So naturally the Cupcake Commissars closed Chloe down. She needs a permit and her parents need to built a separate, restaurant-standard kitchen at their house:
One notes that, for all the state's "protection of the public health", America has the worst rates of obesity, childhood diabetes, etc, in the developed world. So, putting aside philosophical arguments about liberty and considering it purely in the utilitarian sense, things could hardly be worse if you allowed the citizenry to make their own risk assessments about Chloe's cupcakes and 88-year-old Mary Pratte's coconut cream pie.
Still, let's hope Chloe's got the message. So The Belleville News-Democrat put you on the front page for being a Sixth Grade entrepreneur trying to start your own business? Get real, kid. In the Republic of Paperwork, that's for saps. Obama wants to expand food stamps and extend unemployment benefits, so what do you need your own business for anyway? Go to college and get a Master's Degree in Advanced Bureaucracy, Regulation and Permit Studies, and then you can be a commissar at the Bureau of Cupcake Compliance like Amy Yeager. That's what the smart kids do. Spend a couple of decades issuing or denying permits and then take early retirement with full benefits. That's the American Dream.
America is seizing up not just because of Commissar Yeager but because millions of people accept her authority over their lives. Federal regulation alone accounts for ten per cent of GDP - that's to say, the economy of India flushed down the toilet in paperwork. As Laura Rosen Cohen notes of this remorseless sclerosis:
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