Friday, March 20, 2009

When governments and businesses condemn legal activities

On Thursday, I wrote a post entitled AIG again - taxation without representation, the other way around. I've been having a discussion with whatleyj via Disqus on the role of Congress vs. the role of the people. And whatleyj had an interesting observation:

is it not congress' job to uphold the Constitution not manipulate it....When congress starts to target law abiding citizens, they are criminal

And it's not just AIG retention bonuses that cause this reaction. There are many legal things that we can do that not only raise the ire of government, but of others.

For example, people have been known to complain about Apple's ironclad policy of restricting approval of iPhone applications that can be sold in the App Store. But there was one glaring exception, when people complained about an application that Apple DID (temporarily) approve:

My old colleague Harry McCracken brings to light an application called "I Am Rich," that will make you wonder whether developer Armin Heinrich is referring to you or himself -- after he suckers enough tool bags into purchasing this useless piece of software. The app does nothing but display a red ruby; tapping a miniature i in the corner will load a secret mantra enabling you to "stay rich, healthy, and successful."

It will indubitably make you question Apple's criteria for approving applications before they appear in the App Store.

Then there are smokers. (I'm talking about tobacco smokers here.) There are valid debates regarding the use of public funds to support health issues for smokers, but beyond that there is a feeling that smokers are stinky, slimy scum. Or worse:

Somehow I suspect that a letter e-mailed [in January 2009] to all legislators by Dr. Dan Hawkins—the governor’s newest appointee to the Arkansas Tobacco Prevention & Cessation Advisory Committee—was not thoroughly vetted by Beebe’s PR staff. Here’s a taste...:

"Seventy percent of cigarettes are smoked by mentally ill people. This is documented in the 2004 Archives of General Psychiatry. I hope to share more on this twist upon another occasion. But, for now, just let me say that 30 percent of smokers have an Axis II Personality Disorder, i.e., they not only have one or more serious psychiatric illness(es), but, may also be bad people."

My question - is there a difference between a business such as Apple restricting what you can or cannot do with legal items, or a government official such as Barney Frank or Dr. Dan Hawkins restricting what you can or cannot do with legal items?
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