Freedoms lost, one small step at a time
If you see Kris Kristofferson around, please tell him thanks for writing the line "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" in his song "Me and Bobby McGee." That thought is sage and very appropriate for America in the year 2013.
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law an astounding 876 new mandates. They all took effect last week. Now, in the Golden State, you cannot do the following:
* Hunt a bear using trained dogs. Untrained canines are OK, I guess. And how would the authorities be able to tell? Would the dog have to take a test in the forest?
* Sit in an off-road vehicle without being in a seat. You can't sit on the floor or on the roof. Do off-road vehicles even have roofs? I don't know.
* Use a boat in a "freshwater body" without paying a separate fee. The purpose of the fee is to raise money to control the influx of "invasive mussels." I thought that was a 1950s monster movie.
* Drive a party bus without a special license. Can't wait to see that test. "Do you know the words to 'Celebration' by Kool and the Gang?"
The list of new laws is almost endless, and it is clear Brown and the California Legislature have been very busy thinking up ways to control every aspect of people's lives. And that is what's basically happening throughout this country. Politicians, some of them well-meaning, are trying to legislate everything.
New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't want us to be chubby, so he's trying to ban soft drinks in large cups.
If a child rides his bike, he often looks like a Roman gladiator with all the protective gear. Drive through a yellow light, and you may be ticketed thanks to a camera tied to a pole. Everybody's watching everything -- and then sending it out to the world via technology.
The more laws that governments pass the less individual freedom there is. Any student of history will tell you that. Totalitarian countries ban pretty much everything. The Taliban whipped people in public for dancing. Mao would execute you for saying a prayer. Hitler would send you to a concentrate camp if he thought you were gay.
We Americans need to stop this nanny state stuff. Reasonable protections are fine. It should be a crime to text while driving. But in California it is now against the law to park at a broken meter for more time than you could if said meter were working. I can just see the cops standing there with a stopwatch.
I consider myself a law-abiding person. But I'm exhausted. I don't know where to put the bottles, newspapers, cans and other stuff for garbage pickup outside my house. The rules are so thick you need someone from MIT to explain them.
So here's my pitch to Brown and other elected officials: Relax. The bears will be fine. The mussels will invade no matter what you do. The parking meter deal isn't important.
Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor."