10.1.19

SWARMS OF OFFICERS, HARASSING OUR PEOPLE AND EATING OUT THEIR SUBSTANCE.

Nobody would have mistaken candidate Donald Trump as a libertarian.  Two years into his presidency, though, the partial government shutdown, or insider theater, or p*ss*ng contest among leaders of the political class, or whatever it is, is inspiring at least a few observers to start asking whether maybe all those bureaucrats are useful.

Pajamas Media's Michael Walsh invokes that passage from the Declaration of Independence, then notes that the furloughed Feds aren't doing a lot to secure those unalienable rights.  "[T]he longer Donald Trump wrangles with his two superannuated cartoon antagonists, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the stronger the president's position becomes. This despite the Democrat Media's insistence that the shutdown is a terrible thing, costing the lives of (as usual) untold women, children, and minorities." Indeed, even the attempts by the Palace Guard Media to draw comparisons with restructuring private sector companies fail to convince him.  "One would think that these numbers only serve to prove how unconscionably large the federal government has become, but of course that's not the way the Democrats and their fellow travelers near Times Square see it. The employer of last resort must stay in business to keep hiring more and more people for more and more positions in the metastasizing bureaucracy, where lifetime employment is very nearly a constitutional guarantee."

Moreover, perhaps enough air travellers are wise to the security theater that they're not ready to agree with Chuck, Nancy, and their willing accomplices in the legacy media that the only thing worse than being groped by Transportation Security after waiting in a long line is to not have any Transportation Security gropers on hand.  "Given that the world is a better place when TSA employees and other government minions don't do their jobs, and some are already seeking alternative employment, what a great opportunity to shut down their agencies, shrink the government, and make everybody's lives a little better!"  Yes, that's Reason correspondent J. D. Tuccille, and yet, does his platform invalidate his closing argument, "Without even turning to the larger federal apparatus, isn't a widespread sick-out among government workers sounding like a pretty attractive idea right about now?"

But wait ... don't we have to keep the national government open to protect us against ... rogue beer?  Dear reader, read the entire article.  It's not that somebody is secretly enforcing Reinheitsgebot (not with all those headache-in-a-glass pale ales everywhere) or that the Lavender Spice Light forthcoming for Valentine's Day might poison somebody.

Rather ... it's that the labels might be incomplete or inaccurate.  (Is there anything involving food that the Obamas didn't ruin?)  "While the [Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau]'s main responsibility is collecting alcohol taxes—and don't worry, it's still doing that during the shutdown—the bureau is also charged with ensuring that beers, wines, and spirits accurately communicate details like the amount of alcohol by volume (ABV) and the mandatory Surgeon General's warning. Without government approval, the drinks those labels envelope can't be sold." And yes, the absence of a GS-12 in the labelling section has the potential to ruin Valentine's Day. "At Atlas Brew Works in Washington, D.C., a brand new apricot IPA might have to be dumped because it's already fermenting in the tanks but there's no timetable for getting approval from the TTB." I may not like your apricot headache in the glass, but, hey, in these United States of America, your right to drink it ought not be infringed.  Or, for that matter, if you want that Lavender Spice Light.  "In 2016, for example, a Minnesota-based brewery was told it could not sell a beer made with lavender extract, sunflower oil, and dates as 'LSD Ale.' The exact same product, though, is perfectly legal to be sold under the name 'Lavender Sunflower Date Honey Ale,' which is what Indeed Brewing Company ended up calling it. By any other name, right?"Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and ask ourselves, each time we hear that something can't be done because some bureaucrat is furloughed, whether there might not be a work-around, including working without that bureaucrat completely.
Breweries and wineries know what information they are supposed to include on their labels; if they fail to do that, let the TTB get involved. That's how most other government agencies regulate consumer goods anyway. Better yet, do away with the TTB entirely and let the Federal Trade Commission enforce the beer label requirements if breweries fail to note the ABV of their brews.

The TTB is exactly the type of government agency that a shutdown should make us reconsider. When it's operational, it causes problems. When it's shut down, it causes other problems. Let's get rid of it.
Yes, and identify other nests of paralysis-by-analysis, and root them out.

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