Many people are now aware that, according to the U.S. government, incandescent light bulbs will soon be illegal. Yes, it will be a crime, to own, use and sell Thomas Edison's invention. People will be jailed and punished for using the wrong light bulbs. And yes, it is highly likely that there will evolve an underground economy where people will manufacture and sell these highly illegal (and apparently dangerous) items. I, for one, shall gladly participate in this new crime. But before that happens, today in California, the government there has declared yet another type of light illegal: light bulbs that give off "too many" ultraviolet rays.
Of course, what I'm speaking of is the dangerous, deadly and now criminal UV bulbs in tanning beds. You see, the nanny-state government has decided that if you are only 17 years old and you lie in one of these beds with UV rays, you're now also a criminal. And certainly, because at the ripe young age of 17 you are a minor, your parents will also be criminals. I have to wonder how much time and taxpayer money will be spent enforcing and jailing people who choose voluntarily to expose themselves to more than the government-prescribed allowance of UV rays. And no, there's no word yet out of the state government on how to punish those very same 17-year-olds who spend "too much" time at the beach, exposing themselves to more than the government-determined amount of UV rays.
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I also have to wonder how the enforcement of this new law will occur. Will purchasers of tanning beds now be subject to registration? After all, if these people are purchasing something that is deadly, dangerous and criminal (in some cases), shouldn't they be required to register such an item? Also, if the government wants to try and determine who is using these light bulbs in a criminal manner, shouldn't said government have access to records of who has these machines? I can see the state government maintaining a list of owners of these items so they can cross-reference that list with those who have children. Warrants to search and seize items in homes are certainly required here – if the police intend to enforce this law, they are going to have to enter (with a no-knock raid, of course) into houses that have these devices if a person who is under 18 is seen walking into a house or business that is known to have a tanning bed. There will need to be raids and seizures if this law has any hope of being effective.
Maybe the government should maintain medical records and databases on all subjects in the state who have not yet reached 18 summers. The state can require medical checkups where the government can measure exposure to UV rays and attempt to determine if these were natural UV rays or artificial UV rays. In addition, the state should require all medical visits for sunburns to be reported to government officials to determine if an investigation is warranted to see if criminal charges are merited from an illegal device.
This sounds like hyperbole, but it is not. When a law is passed, the government only has one option: to use force against people who violate that law. Otherwise, the law has no point. And no, it does not matter what alleged safety concerns any law addresses: Each law is backed only by force and jail times.
In a free country, people would be free to engage in commerce and expose themselves to any UV rays they desired. Government would not care, because government is literally incapable of being compassionate. If people overexposed themselves to UV rays, they, and only they, would be responsible for their own actions. But that's what it would be like in a free country, a country ruled by the Constitution.
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Jeffrey Ober is a full-time freelance writer who covers a wide variety topics, including homeschooling, computer instruction and political thought. His website is www.ober.org.