They're Tragically Delicious

Confronting Big Cereal, unregulated garage sales, and other evils


How can Americans be expected to wrestle with the myriad dangers that confront them each day? Insalubrious cereal? Unregulated garage sales? Pools of death? Sometimes it's too much to process.

You know what we desperately are crying out for? An army of crusading federal regulatory agents with unfettered power. Who else has the fortitude and foresight to keep us all safe?

Mercifully, as The Washington Post recently reported, many of President Barack Obama's appointees "have been quietly exercising their power over the trappings of daily life … awakening a vast regulatory apparatus with authority over nearly every U.S. workplace, 15,000 consumer products, and most items found in kitchen pantries and medicine cabinets."

If there's anything Americans are hankering for in their everyday lives, it's a vast regulatory apparatus. Hey, it's dangerous out there.

That's why the new chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission recently unleashed 100 agency inspectors to investigate whether swimming pools in America were equipped with drain covers to prevent children from entrapment.

Nearly 0.9 children fall prey to this sadistic killer each year. With the compassionate guidance of federal officials, we almost surely will see this number plunge to 0.8 children per year.

It should be noted that in each tragic year that passes, an estimated 300 children younger than 4 drown in swimming pools. Why our government sits idly by as this watery assassin targets the most vulnerable among us is a mystery.

Don't get me started on food. Washington will not rest until every one of our children is forcing down some gravel-based Mueslix after morning calisthenics in the name of a glorious preventive care revolution. I get it. They're fat.

This is why I am grateful that one courageous soul finally has stood up to the menacing influence of Big Cereal. Yes, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg has had enough of deceitful infiltration of Cheerios, demanding that General Mills cease and desist a marketing campaign that peddles the fallacious claim that the oat-based cereal can lower cholesterol.

Why stop with oats? Trix are not only for kids, you know. Lucky Charms are nowhere close to being "magically" delicious.

What Lucky Charms does do is perpetuate the stereotype that the Irish are a bunch of oft-inebriated jerks—which everyone knows is only true about 70 percent of the time.

Isn't there a statute we can pass in Congress to end the hate?

Then again, it's not only those scheming Irish who are hawking their wares—unregulated—on concrete suburban driveways and inner-city thrift shops across this country.

The "Resale Round-up," launched by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, finally limits the power of the merchants of death who recklessly barter secondhand toys to unsuspecting civilians at low prices. Consider that Tonka truck—the one that you somehow outlasted—contraband. If not, you could be fined thousands of dollars.

The only question now is: How did any of us survive this long?

Michael Livermore—executive director of the Institute for the Study of Regulation, at the New York University School of Law—points out that "in the Bush administration, the problem was that the political folks were hostile to the mission."

It is no surprise that the Bush administration—a close second to Big Cereal in wickedness—was hostile to regulating the rhinestones on your kids' denim jackets. Apparently, the depths of its depravity knew no bounds.

The mission? Simple. Keeping you safe. Because everyone knows that parents aren't equipped to keep their children safe until a bureaucrat explains exactly how it's done.

And those parents who are neglecting their children's safety, well, they always care more once government gets involved. Right?

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at


NEXT: In Defense of Roger Moore as James Bond Or, Why Is Chris MatthewsFantasizing About Blowing Up Rush Limbaugh's Head?

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  1. Where did you guys get a picture of Pelosi in a hat?

    1. C’mon sage, be serious. We all know that’s not a picture of Nancy Pelosi in a hat…

      It’s a picture of Nancy Pelosi in a capotain. There’s a difference.

  2. …yeah, yeah, yeah…cheerios, cold dead hands…move along now, nothing to see here…

  3. Yes- I get it.

    I recently saw a PSA for kids that said “Government is supposed to keep you safe- that’s their job.” I wanted to scream :NO Children. It’s your job to keep you safe.
    The only way for government to “keep us safe” is to prevent us from doing anything that might involve risk. If there is one sentence that more clearly defines loss of freedom, that is it.

    The bigger question is: how do we stop this unfettered regulatory armmy?

    1. The bigger question is: how do we stop this unfettered regulatory army?

      Well, Al V, Michael Livermore, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Regulation, at the New York University School of Law, hints that this kind of thing is less likely to happen if enough people vote for Republicans. Something to consider, especially now that people have the “historic vote for a black guy” thing out of their systems.

      1. Did Mike Huckabee and Mike Bloomberg get that no republican nanny memo? Explain the republican intervention of Terry Schivo?

        When you look at the republcian positions, they are not against nannyism, they are against democrat nannyism. They are just upset that some other political party is being the nanny.

        1. Add the republican govenor of California too.

          1. While I’m at it, I’ll throw in the conservative christian right’s attempt at censoring TV and music in the 1980s. Add Tipper Gore in that fight, and you will see this isn’t a red vs. blue issue. Neither are better.

            1. Tell that to Micheal Livermore.

              1. He didn’t post here.

                I wouldn’t be surprised if he votes republican, many people seem to think their team is less nanny than the other. Sometimes they just exclude the bad eggs with comments like Arnold and Bloomberg are not really republicans.

                1. Well, I would be surprised if Livermore, who worked for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), “where he was a leading voice of the state’s environmental community…” for seven years and whose book, Retaking Rationality, “makes clear that by embracing and reforming cost-benefit analysis, and by joining reason and compassion, progressive groups can help enact strong environmental and public health regulation” voted Republican.

                2. Ahnold and Bloomberg are not really Republicans – more like opportunists.

        2. You know, when a guy tries to murder his wife, it’s kind of the government’s job to stop him. If the Republicans want to stop psychopaths like that hell-bound son of a bitch Michael from murdering their spouses, I’d say they’re well within their rightful authority.

          So fuck you for helping him to murder his spouse, TrickyVic. Fuck all you “Libertarians” who argue in favor of murder on the grounds that it’s all right if it’s “private” and it “empowers” somebody and the victim can’t speak for him/herself.

          According to your retarded theories, we should be allowed to feed all of you assholes into wood-chippers as long as we pay for the equipment ourselves, bind and gag you so you can’t speak, feel “empowered” by having you out of our lives, and keep this “procedure” inside of a “clinic” where nobody can see us doing it.

          No wonder so many of you opposed liberating Iraqis from Saddam: you must be in favor of rape rooms if you really believe all that shit you’re spewing about government intervention into murder cases being a bad thing. You love dictators for putting your anti-life beliefs into practice against their own people. Damn you all to Hell!

          1. Shitty Performance art? And who is Michael?

          2. ‘Fuck all you “Libertarians” who argue in favor of murder on the grounds that it’s all right if it’s “private” and it “empowers” somebody and the victim can’t speak for him/herself.’

            This reminds me of all the emotional lambasting of American “liberalism” for promoting abortions. C’mon guys, there are plenty of reasons to criticize liberals, but it’s either stupidity or simply intellectually dishonest to say that they want people to have more abortions.

          3. DRINK?

            And I don’t appreciate that crack about the Irish by the way. Offended!

          4. Even Lonewhacko is probably saying “Damn!” at this one

          5. Blow me. I’d give more of an intellectual response but let’s be honest, you probably can’t read.

          6. Hey, “Fuck You, Murderer”, are you trying to prove to us that you are as brain dead as that fluid-sack of a vegetable that used to contain the person of Terry Schivo?

            Why do you believe that keeping the lifeless, soul-less body of a brain dead person on mechanical support is an acceptable thing? Why are you against the covenant of marriage that Micheal and Terry entered into and the fiduciary responsibilities he as her husband had to perform on her behalf?

            It is unconscionably selfish that the parents of Terry Schivo would allow her lifeless corpse to be kept mechanically activated and it is an affront to basic human decency and an attempt to mock the Creator through their Frankenstein efforts.

            Fuck you for having no respect for the dead.

        3. Right on the money!!

  4. But garage sales are one of the last the last bastions of pure capitalism left. I have something so I sell it and, if you like the price, you buy it. No sales tax. No licenses. No bailouts. And now or beloved leaders are attacking our oh so dangerous garage sales.

  5. Voltaire said the prayer he repeated every day was: “Lord, please make my enemies ridiculous.” I see in my case the prayer is answer, at least if the Obama administration is my enemy.

  6. Kicks are for Trids

    1. It’s “Silly rabbi, kicks are for trids!”

      1. I heard my dad tell that joke at every dinner party and family occasion he attended for about 4 years. Then he moved onto the “Beer that Made Milt Famie Walk us”

        1. Don’t forget – “Pardon me Roy. Is that the cat who chewed your new shoe.”

  7. That’s it. I am buying a case of Cheerio’s tonight. That is the kind of radical that I am.

  8. I see you split this short article into two pages.

    Knock it the fuck off!

  9. The only way for government to “keep us safe” is to prevent us from doing anything that might involve risk.

    I believe this falls under RCs iron law #4: You aren’t free unless you are free to be wrong.

  10. OK I’ll tow the lion for ending the FDA, but even in Libertopia fraud is still a crime right? General Mills deserves a junk punch.

    1. Yeah, but in Libertopia it takes more than an accusation to prove fraud.

    2. Diets rich in whole-grain oats have been clinically shown to lower cholesterol. That part is not a lie.

      What has the FDA’s hair in a tizzy is that Cheerios has not been subject to clinical testing, and therefore the claims made on the label (main ingredient not withstanding) are untested.

      I think the FDA is overstepping its bounds here.

      1. Diets rich in whole-grain oats have been clinically shown to lower cholesterol. That part is not a lie.

        If you smoke cigarettes with half the tobacco replaced by ground-up Cheerios, you will significantly cut the risk of heart disease and lung cancer. That doesn’t mean Cheerios are healthy.

        Eating whole-grain oats is less unhealthy than sugary cereals since refined sugar increases triglycerides more than complex carbs. Whole-grain oats are a lesser evil, not a good alternative.

      2. I don’t require FDA testing to make my own decision on what cereal I buy. I can try it out myself; if it doesn’t work, I can quit buying it or buy it anyway if I happen to like the taste.

        Crap, people, grow up! Making these choices is not so damn hard and we don’t need the FDA to do it for us.

  11. We joke around about the nanny state and over regulation and ridiculous laws at all levels of government, but there is nothing funny about it. It is insidious and is one of the major contributors to destroying American life. Until we treat this sort of thing as the evil it is instead of treating it as some sort of whimiscal tilting at windmills by government it will continue to get worse.

  12. Yep, the left and right are just two sides of the nanny coin. A friend recently tried to tell me how different the Dems and Reps were from each other regarding personal freedom. I said “BS, the Republicans dont want me to have kinky sex or look at dirty pictures or smoke pot, and the Democrats dont want me to eat junk food or own guns or smoke cigarettes.” He shut up then.

    1. Actually, Republicans mostly just don’t want you to have kinky sex with us, don’t want you to flash your dirty pictures at us, and don’t want you pushing your drugs at us either–pot, or Ritalin, or anything else. Most of us don’t mind nearly so much if you do these things to yourself; just when you do them to us.

      If you want to get your bowels ruptured by some AIDS-riddled drag queen in bondage gear while you look at shotacon bukkake drawings and fry your mind with a huge home-rolled stogie filled up with silica-dust-laced cocaine, please do! You’ll be ridding us of your morally contemptible self, and that result paradoxically makes you slightly less contemptible in our eyes since it means you’re doing us a favor.

      Democrats, on the other hand, actually want you to eat junk food, own guns, and smoke cigarettes; they just don’t want you to be doing any of these things legally. That way, if you ever start embarrassing them and they want you publicly discredited, they can just have the police take a long hard look at your life for any bad habits you might have picked up so they can have you arrested while trumpeting what a law-breaking hypocrite you are.

      1. Then why don’t any prominent Repubs support pot decriminalization? And before Lawrence v. Texas I don’t recall any Republican state legislators anywhere who supported repealing sodomy laws.

      2. what a load of crap.

  13. Pablo, it’s a game of oneupmanship and the joke is on us.

  14. Yo Democrats, the 60s are calling and want to remind it’s “Fuck the establishment”.

    1. In Soviet America, establishment fucks you!

  15. What type of person are you, if you don’t want anyone to do anything?

    I want to be that type of person, lol

  16. Republicans dont want me to have kinky sex or look at dirty pictures or smoke pot, and the Democrats dont want me to eat junk food or own guns or smoke cigarettes.”…truly a life not worth living

  17. I will say this one small thing in defense of republicans. At least their nanny state impulses are somewhat constrained by religion. With the democrats, they will regulate absolutely anything that they deem “detrimental to society”. And since that definition of “detrimental to society” keeps changing and expanding, there really is no limit to what they will want to control.

    1. Actually, it’s not “religion” generally so much as it’s specific precepts of a specific Judeo-Christian religion. Democrats are actually very religious; just not at all Judeo-Christian. (Statism; Scientism; Environmentalism; Socialism; do any of these religions I’ve just named ring a bell with you?)

      In these leftist religions, “society” is more or less the central deity. Elitist intellectuals are its priesthood, and Democrat voters are the laymen. People like you and I who oppose this order are heretics. Contrast this to Christianity and its Jewish predecessor. The deity is in fact a God, distinct and separate from humanity and all its institutions. The moral directives all originate with God, not society.

      Moreover, there’s an Original Sin doctrine which indicates the individual human can never achieve moral perfection; by implication, nothing composed of humanity can achieve moral perfection either. Christianity dove-tails with Republicanism largely because of this doctrine of imperfection; while Christians are called upon to live a moral life and even to govern morally, there is no assumption that society can ever be perfect if we just pass the right laws and put the right people in charge. There are no “right” people because nobody’s perfect.

      In leftist religion, society determines morality, morality is perfectible, and therefore if we can just pass enough of the right (er, left) kind of laws, put enough of the right (er, left again) kind of people in charge, and silence all those noisome heretics (that’s you) who are keeping us from moral perfection, we can build a regular utopian paradise for ourselves right here on Earth. If we aren’t perfect yet, that’s because we aren’t doing enough to make ourselves so. That’s why every failed government program leads to calls for more government: leftist religion presumes the failure was from insufficient effort, never from any inherent imperfection.

      Thus, with the religious component of Republicanism, the argument is always over whether living a moral life requires imposing anything on others, and to what extent. With religious Democrats, there is no argument, just the assumption that since not everybody’s perfect yet, we’d better redouble our efforts.

      1. This is why I prefer Rothbard’s deontological framework of the non-initiation of violence. Which would seem to fall in line with Christianity. For some reason however Christians initiate violence all the time. I blame the Holy Roman Empire.

      2. I would say that the altruism promoted by Christianity pretty much guarantees that religious legislatures will use government to attempt to at least minimize “immorality”. This still beats liberal efforts to improve society because at least God’s list of immoral behavior is pretty well establish and unlikely to change any time soon. Liberal failures to perfect society are used as an excuse to become more expansive and exercise more control over people.

      3. There is no Altruism in religion, not really. You’re supposed to do good things to gain a promised reward. That sounds like a trade rather than a sacrifice. It’s the leftists who don’t want the reward to be earned.

    2. Well that defense might have meant something before Bloomberg, Arnold, and Huckabee.

      Huckabee was a preacher, but I’m not sure forbiding people to smoke in the car with kids is in the realm of christianity

      1. Isn’t there something about polluting the body?

        Regardless, you are probably right that the thing we must fear most is a merging of the two camps. If Republicans and Democrats ever realize that they want the same things, we are completely doomed.

  18. I’m going to go around telling everyone I know that Cheerios cure cancer. In fact, I may write a book to that effect.

    1. Just remember to disclose that one time they sent you the sample size box in the mail or the FCC will be after you.

  19. in Libertopia it takes more than an accusation to prove fraud.

    Next, you’ll try to convince us Party A’s misunderstanding (willful or otherwise) of the terms of an agreement does not constitute fraud on the part of Party B.

  20. Back in the early 1980s “childproofing” your home was all the rage. Down the street lived a couple who had done an exemplary job. Only trouble was, their offspring was now old enough to attend kindergarten. Since he knew nothing about ouchies and booboos, every time he left the nest he ended up getting injured. It took several repetitions before he learned that trees aren’t padded, and running into them will cause contusions. This happened so regularly that about the time I moved away, the state opened a child abuse investigation.

  21. I am irate that there has been no investigation yet for why Lucky Charms is “magically” delicious. Why has the DEA not busted down the doors of General Mills? Why are their dogs all still alive? It makes no sense. Doesn’t anyone care about the children?

  22. Mr. Harsanyi:

    The Irish are not jerks.
    So long as you’re buying.

  23. Crazy funny. I nearly peed my pants.

  24. “The only question now is: How did any of us survive this long?”

    I know how I survived, my parents and grandparents weren’t long separated from the old country and ways and they believed the very worst parenting invovles not allowing children to be exposed to risks so they can learn to deal with risk naturally from the youngest age. For us it worked well.

    So, for myself “”The only question now is” How will this nation of artificial humans ever survive a day without the 24/7 protection of their socialist nannies?

    One thing for certain is with them, we will never prosper, not again.

  25. Did you know that the band 10,000 Maniacs has only, like, five people in it? We need the Obamanauts to stamp out this obvious fraud, too.

  26. I blame women. No guy would get his knickers in a twist and demand governmental action about stuff like this unless he was trying to impress a woman or trying to be a woman.

  27. Are you aware that the Nazi’s made a health a major issue? Apparently Hitler’s fascination with healthy living translated in national campaigns for healthiness. Of course that was co-opted to target the Jews as well. Jews being a foreign organism that harmed the host body of Germany.

    Anyway, the point is not that I see Nazism around, but that this regulatory approach strikes one as very similar to previous oppressive regimes that want to “help” their people.

    1. I recall reading that Hitler’s dietary regime, which consisted of green leafy vegetables and amphetamines, rendered the atmosphere in his vicinity … oppressive, if you get my drift.

      Back to the actual thread, here is the last word on safe cereal.

  28. while we are all having a hearty laugh over the absurdity of all this, we are losing control of our lives and surrendering to a fascist government. this is how it happens: first they came for the cheerios….

  29. Pools are dangerous with little kids – which along with the fact it was 34F and snowing this morning – is one reason I don’t have one. I didn’t need anyone from the gov’t to tell me that.

  30. Oh, for the love of my sanity. What cracked-out mind came up with the “Resale Round-up?” Regulating garage sales?!

    I wonder what Martin Manning would have to say about all of this?

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  32. Better than my copy of the oldsquaws kamasutra that’s for sure.

  33. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane.

  34. Better than my copy of the oldsquaws kamasutra that’s for sure.

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