1. Whitehouse.gov has a petition to the Obama administration to “require automakers to replace the nearly useless Check Engine Light with a display that actually explains what’s wrong.” The petitioner says “we need a federal mandate…”
“Yeah, like that’s what we want governance to do,” my friend Liz Arden said. “We really want the Administration to replace its mission for social engineering with even more automotive engineering.”
2a. Meanwhile, in the real world, America’s poor use food “stamps” to buy staples like milk, vegetables, fruits and meat. Technology update. The coupon book has morphed into a debit card. A Florida state senator wants to stop them from using the food stamp cards to buy sweets like cakes, cookies, and Jell-O and snack foods like chips. She also wants to limit other welfare funds, known as Temporary Assistance For Needy Families, from being used at ATMs in casinos and strip clubs and anywhere out of state.
“That’s something of which I would approve,” Ms. Arden told me. If our government insists on “spending our tax money helping out the poor, then social engineering in this respect is appropriate. My tax dollars are not a gift to be used by the recipient as they please — they are an investment in this country’s good. ”
The Florida bill recently passed committee. Liberal critics say the government shouldn’t dictate what people eat.
“Gummint isn’t,” Ms. Arden said. “They may use any of their own earned dollars to eat snack foods and go to strip clubs.”
But, but, they are poor. That pretty much means they don’t have their own money, yes?
“Then work hard to get off the public teat so you can afford to have Twinkies and Ho Hos.”
I’m not sure I’d even call it “social engineering.” I’d simply call it a grant requirement. Or a contract. Or the law.
Grant recipients have to jump through specific hoops for their funds (a college lab can’t spend the money it gets to research norovirus on, say, staff mammograms even if that’s a good thing to do). And, just as an aside, the letter carrier who delivered the welfare check or food stamp card in the mail passed a criminal-history check, a physical examination, and a drug test.
2b. On the other hand, the ACLU here in Florida brought a class action suit last year to stop drug-testing welfare recipients. That’s probably social engineering because I’m thinking very few street dealers have the required credit card machines. That makes it hard to use food “stamps” for crack or meth.
3. At the other end of the spectrum, Liz Arden does think the Federal gummint should get out of the marriage business altogether. “It’s a contract and Congress is trying to social engineer it,” she says. “Let the churches or the Towns or even just the individuals download a form or call a lawyer and just do it.”
That’s a good Libertarian response to a Congress that is either hellbent on destroying marriage or saving it. Or both. Or not doing anything at all.
Congress is nothing if not schizophrenic.
Except contracts don’t bind parties outside the contract to their terms so a private marriage contract can’t by itself change HIPAA, can’t override probate laws, can’t affect the tax code, and can’t protect child brides, people of unsound mind, or close relatives (you cannot, for example marry a parent, grandparent, sister, brother, child, grandchild, niece, nephew, aunt or uncle in Vermont). United States federal law is supposed to assure that a marriage licensed in one state is recognized in all the others, a pretty important fiat. And the Supreme Court overturned state marriage laws that barred interracial marriages on the basis that marriage is a “basic civil right…” Not a likely outcome for a private contract.
Government must not/must mandate Idiot Lights.
Government must/must not mandate food stamp junque food.
Government must/must not mandate welfare drug tests.
Government must not/must mandate marriage.
The Check Engine or Service Engine Soon lights aren’t necessary to the well-being of American society. Period.
The junk food and drug test orders do improve the well-being of American society. Worth running through the legislature.
Marital contracts deserve the same crafting latitude as any other legal contract but the basic tenets of civil rights, inheritance, safety, and taxation are national concerns. Creating a legal umbrella that assures that both the redneck and the Brahmin recognize the contract does improve the well-being of American society.