Here’s a palate cleanser designed for my current trip to the Golden State. Two of Reason TV’s Nanny of the Month nominees for July 2014 come from my home state, which … will surprise no one from California. (How did it miss the hat trick, anyway? Darned Iowans.) Newport Beach edges out Oakland for the (dubious) honor, though, for banning the future, which we all know from The Jetsons means personal jetpacks. Or at least it did, until the bureaucratic impulse to kill all fun for safety reasons eclipsed technology as the wave of the future:
In July, police promise confrontations will happen if one town doesn’t ban the open carry of guns… toy guns. And in Oakland, California going green and making green just got a bit more difficult with a ban on “Eco ATMs” that offer cash payouts for old electronics and which local city officials say incentivize cell phone theft. But this month’s top dishonor goes to the Newport Beach city council, which has prohibited new businesses in the “water jet pack” industry from opening along the shoreline.
Officials hope the six-month moratorium addresses concerns related to “noise, injuries, wakes and a possible proliferation of the water-propelled devices.”
While it’s true that not everyone can handle the power of the jet pack, some of us have been waiting on our jet packs for a long time. So, step aside Newport Beach city council, because some of us are ready to fly.
A possible proliferation of fun, among adults? Well, we can’t have that, can we? I’m beginning to think that the Vogons in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy were the most realistic part of that classic absurdist novel.
Still, I’d be inclined to choose Oakland over Newport Beach because of the double irony involved. Environmentalists, the source of much nanny-state nonsense as it is, came up with a novel and non-nanny way to deal with their legitimate concerns about electronics piling up in landfills; in fact, the ATM-style machines put market forces to work in incentivizing ecological activism. How often do we see that? It took their usual allies in their fight to squelch that effort, thanks to the nanny-state impulse to harm the victim rather than fight the actual crime.
Which of the three would you choose? Take the poll: