Quotulatiousness

April 23, 2014

Happy Meal toys as human rights violations

Filed under: Business, Law, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:16

Amy Otto on the attempt to sue McDonald’s because they were handing out “gendered” toys with their Happy Meals:

A recent article in Slate by Antonia Ayres-Brown, a junior in high school, details the valiant feminist struggle she ultimately brought to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities against McDonald’s for … discriminating on the basis of sex in the distribution of Happy Meal toys. “Despite our evidence showing that, in our test, McDonald’s employees described the toys in gendered terms more than 79 percent of the time, the commission dismissed our allegations as ‘absurd’ and solely for the purposes of ‘titilation [sic] and sociological experimentation,’” she wrote.

Let’s leave aside the fact that Connecticut has a Commission on Human Rights and note that this girl sincerely believes McDonald’s offering toys described, at times, as being for a girl or for a boy is a human rights violation.

While I admire the girl’s plucky disposition and effort, I do hope one day she learns to channel her energy into productive uses that will advance her cause in positive ways. This could have all been solved by her parents simply encouraging her to ask for the toy she wants. If girls are continually taught that they as individuals have no power to negotiate a situation as simple as “I’d like that toy” without the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights getting involved, I submit that these women are proving the case that they should not be put in positions of leadership or power.

By the author’s own admission,“McDonald’s is estimated to sell more than 1 billion Happy Meals each year.” Yet it does not occur to her that the fast food worker giving a “girl’s” toy to a girl is simply trying to give the customer what she wants in the most expeditious manner possible. This is a company that sells a billion of these things a year and gets them in the hands of their customers as fast as possible.

People do not eat at McDonald’s to get into a gender studies discussion with the teenage kid at the register; they go there to get food fast, hence the term “fast food.” If the author had worked in fast food for any nominal period of time, she might realize that the employee’s main motivation is not to spend any time persecuting women but to make it through his or her shift as painlessly as possible.

February 15, 2014

In one stroke, Connecticut becomes the state with the highest proportion of criminals

Filed under: Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:54

In a development that absolutely nobody could have seen coming, Connecticut has the highest known population of (technical) criminals in the United States:

In a massive display of civil disobedience, tens of thousands of state residents have refused to register what the left calls assault weapons, instantly making them criminals guilty of a felony.

The legacy of the Connecticut residents who used their privately owned firearms to help overthrow the tyrannical colonial rule of King George III, who probably considered their muskets the military-style assault weapon of the day, apparently lives on.

Connecticuters in the tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands have refused to comply with a law, adopted after the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, requiring them to register what gun-control advocates consider assault weapons by the end of 2013.

As the Hartford Courant reports, as of Dec. 31 some 47,916 applications for assault weapons certificates had been received by state police. By some estimates, this represented as little as 15% of the rifles classified as assault weapons owned by Connecticut residents.

Estimates by people in the industry, including the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, place the number as high as 350,000.

Update, 19 February: The editorial board of the Hartford Courant thinks that the solution to this problem is to just ignore the deadline or even scrap the law. No, wait, that’d be a sensible reaction. They actually want the state to round up the scofflaws en masse:

Some people actually tried to comply with the registration law, but missed the deadline. The state’s official position is that it will accept applications notarized on or before January 1, 2014 and postmarked by January 4. But, says Dora Schriro, Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, in a letter to lawmakers [PDF], anybody sufficiently law-abiding but foolish enough to miss that slightly extended grace period will have to surrender or otherwise get rid of their guns.

This, of course, is the eternally fulfilled fear of those who oppose registration of things governments don’t like — that allowing the government to know about them will result in their eventual confiscation. Such confiscation, despite assurances to the contrary, occurred in New York, California, and elsewhere. Connecticut has accomplished something special, though, by making “eventual” a synonym for “right now.”

You know who won’t have to surrender their weapons? People who quietly told the state to fuck off.

This successful example of mass defiance horrifies the editorial board of the Hartford Courant, which shudders at the sight of the masses not obeying an order that, history, tells us, never had a shot at wide compliance. According to them:

    It’s estimated that perhaps scores of thousands of Connecticut residents failed to register their military-style assault weapons with state police by Dec. 31….

    …the bottom line is that the state must try to enforce the law. Authorities should use the background check database as a way to find assault weapon purchasers who might not have registered those guns in compliance with the new law.

    A Class D felony calls for a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Even much lesser penalties or probation would mar a heretofore clean record and could adversely affect, say, the ability to have a pistol permit.

    If you want to disobey the law, you should be prepared to face the consequences.

Such shock! Such outrage!

January 16, 2013

When Kafka met Sandy

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Government, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:53

In the Wall Street Journal, Roger Kimball talks about the experience of trying to put your life back together after a major storm damages your home:

Like many people whose houses were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, my family and I have been living in a rented house since the storm. Unlike some whose houses were totalled, we could have repaired things and been home toasting our tootsies by our own fireplace by now. What happened?

Two things: zoning (as in “Twilight Zone”) and FEMA.

Our first exposure to the town zoning authorities came a couple of weeks after Sandy. We’d met with insurance adjusters, contractors and “remediation experts.” We’d had about a foot of Long Island Sound sloshing around the ground floor of our house in Connecticut, and everyone had the same advice: Rip up the floors and subfloors, and tear out anything — wiring, plumbing, insulation, drywall, kitchen cabinets, bookcases — touched by salt water. All of it had to go, and pronto, too, lest mold set in.

Yet it wasn’t until the workmen we hired had ripped apart most of the first floor that the phrase “building permit” first wafted past us. Turns out we needed one. “What, to repair our own house we need a building permit?”

Of course.

Before you could get a building permit, however, you had to be approved by the Zoning Authority. And Zoning — citing FEMA regulations — would force you to bring the house “up to code,” which in many cases meant elevating the house by several feet. Now, elevating your house is very expensive and time consuming — not because of the actual raising, which takes just a day or two, but because of the required permits.

Kafka would have liked the zoning folks. There also is a limit on how high in the sky your house can be. That calculation seems to be a state secret, but it can easily happen that raising your house violates the height requirement. Which means that you can’t raise the house that you must raise if you want to repair it. Got that?

“A paradox, a paradox, a most ingenious paradox. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, this paradox.”

H/T to Monty for the link. Monty also has this meditation on bureaucracy:

This is where Leviathan does the most damage, I think. Tyranny is always a danger in centralized governments, but a greater danger is the proliferation and growth of bureaucracies. The rules become ever more Byzantine, ever more contradictory, ever more pointless, and ever more expensive (both to implement and comply with). The bureaucracies themselves achieve a life outside the body politic: they persist, age after age, irrespective of their political origin. Their sole imperative (regardless of their ostensible purpose) is to perpetuate themselves. They are an amoeba, growing to engulf everything they touch — not because they are evil, necessarily, but simply because it’s in their nature to do so. They cannot help themselves. Bureaucracies — lethargic, slow, risk-averse, rules-bound, pedantic, expensive, often causing more harm than good — are perhaps the very worst creation of human society.

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