Jewish World Review Sept. 29, 2003 / 3 Tishrei, 5764

Neil Cavuto

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Consumer Reports

Thanks, but no thanks | Is it me, or have we become a nation of babies?

We must have, because more than a few of us are quite happy to have the government take care of us. Being the somewhat rebellious chap that I am, I don't like it. I don't like it one bit.

The latest assault on common sense comes from no less than New York Assemblyman Alexander Grannis. The Manhattan Democrat is a perfectly nice guy, with what seems a perfectly nice idea: ban smoking in cars in which there are children.

On the surface, that sounds fine. After all, we know smoking is dangerous. And as a cancer survivor myself, I'm all for getting people to stop smoking. But here's my problem — that's smokers' call, not the government's.

Uncle Sam can coax you to quit, but he can't force you to quit. There is a difference, and unless we see it, we'll miss it, and be run over by something far more dangerous; an intrusive government that begins manipulating and forcing every detail of our lives.

I mean, think about it. You've got the food police monitoring the burgers we eat, the distraction police spying the cell-phone calls we make, and the language police in some towns counting the public curse words we use. I say, for Heaven's sake, stop it!

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Look, I know eating burgers is risky, and smoking is dangerous, and making cell-phone calls on the road isn't a good idea. But when the government starts policing what we do in our cars and potentially what we do in a McDonald's, that's getting a little nutty.

I'm all for good health and good behavior. But again, that's our call, no one else's. When a politician insists he is looking after our own good, I start looking after my own wallet. Laws carry consequences and fines. Laws also often carry taxes and fees . . . all in an effort to police good behavior and penalize bad. We've done it for ages, slapping sin taxes on everything from liquor to cigarettes.

But what's next? Slapping similar taxes on Big Macs? Or BLTs? Or those super-sized value meals?

The bottom and regrettable line is we are a nation of increasingly unhealthy people. But it's not the government's job to make us healthy. And if we start thinking it is, we start accepting more government help. It stands to reason that if we're OK having the government tell us what to do in our cars, we'll be OK having the government tell us what to eat in our kitchens and what to do in our bedrooms.

Gerald Ford was right when he said that a "government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything you have."

This doesn't mean I'm for smoking. I never did smoke, and I never will. As I said, I know very well the dangers of cancer and other diseases. I'm practically a Petri dish for such maladies. But I don't look to Uncle Sam to correct those maladies. I look to something called common sense.

It's time smokers think of the danger of second-hand smoke and refrain from doing so around kids, period, in or out of cars. Most are considerate enough to do so, so we don't have to make a law to force them to do so.

Now you will have the occasional belligerent who acts like a jerk. But news flash: the world is full of jerks. You can't outlaw jerks, nor can you police them. Besides, with or without rules and regulations, jerks have a way of surviving. We will always have jerks. Move on.

My biggest worry is not the jerk, but the government that acts like a jerk, micro-managing every aspect of our lives — what we eat, what we watch, what we are. I think most adults in this country want to be treated like adults in this country. That means making choices in this country . . . good and bad choices. We live with the consequences of our actions. Again, our call . . . and nobody else's.

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Neil Cavuto is managing editor of Business News at FOX News Channel. He is also the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" and "Cavuto on Business." Comment by clicking here.


09/22/03: Big Companies vs. Big Government
09/15/03: Terrorists and idiots: Financial lessons learned
09/08/03: Watch out, Mr. President
09/03/03: Tips for Empty Nesters
08/25/03: Friends and hypocrites
08/18/03: When good news goes bad
08/04/03: PHONY BALONEY!
07/28/03: The meaning of a pin
07/21/03: We are what we eat
07/14/03: Don't like it, don't keep it!
07/07/03: The check, and the recovery, is in the mail!
06/29/03: Who says Al's our pal?
06/23/03: The big pitch for the "big get," no big deal!

© 2003, Neil Cavuto