- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On Thursday, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to set up a committee to examine whether condoms should be required on all pornographic film shoots within the Golden State. California has run out of money, but it hasn’t yet run out of things to regulate.

For a government regulatory hearing, the testimony was livelier than usual. Porn star Madelyne Hernandez recalled an especially grueling scene in which she had been obliged to have sex with 75 men. The bureaucrats nodded thoughtfully, no doubt contemplating another languorous 18-month committee assignment looking into capping the number of group-sex participants at 60 per scene. In the future, if a porn actress finds 75 men waiting for her on the set, they’ll be bureaucrats from Sacramento’s Condom Enforcement Squad.

The committee also will make recommendations on whether the “adult” movie industry should be subject to the same regulatory regime and hygiene procedures as hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. You mean with everyone in surgical masks? Kinky. If you’ve ever been in the filthy, infected wards of Britain’s National Health Service, it may make more sense after the passage of Obamacare to require hospitals to bring themselves up to the same hygiene standards as the average Bangkok porn shoot.

One can make arguments for permitting porn and banning porn, but there isn’t a lot to be said for the bureaucratization of porn. Hard to believe there will be dull, bespoke California bureaucrats looking forward to early retirement on gold-plated pensions who’ll be getting home, sinking into the La-Z-Boy and complaining to the missus about a tough day at the office working on the permits for “Debbie Does the Fresno OSHA Office.”

Meanwhile, Obamacare will result in the creation of at least 16,500 new jobs. Doctors? Nurses? Dream on, suckers. That’s 16,500 new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, who’ll be needed to check whether you - yes, you, Mr. and Mrs. Hopendope of 27 Hopeychangey Gardens - are in compliance with the 15 tax increases and dozens of new federal mandates the Deemocrats are about to “deem” into existence. This will be the biggest expansion of the IRS since World War II - and that’s change you can believe in. This is what “health” “care” “reform” boils down to: Fewer doctors, longer wait times but more bureaucrats. And, when you walk into the Health Care Enforcement Division of the IRS, the staffing levels will make Ms. Hernandez’s group-sex scene look like a one-man play off-off-off-Broadway.

Barack Obama, a man who not so long ago had time to jet across the world to make dreary Olympics-losing speeches about how his kind of town, Chicago, is, has postponed his presidential visits to Indonesia and Australia in order to make sure “health care” passes this week - or, at any rate, is “deemed” to have passed, which is apparently the way a quarter-millennium-old constitutional republic does things. The president, his press secretary informs us, regrets having to postpone his trip for three months, but “passage of the health insurance reform is of paramount importance.” Whereas Australia isn’t.

The visit already had been pared back to the bare minimum - a quick refueling stop in Canberra, with a speech to Parliament and a grip ‘n’ greet with the governor-general and the prime minister. Maybe the administration could simply “deem” the visit to have occurred, Photoshop a souvenir snapshot and stick it in the mail to their eminences. In much the same way, the Deemocrats are deeming their health bill to control costs rather than actually controlling them. Medicare doesn’t reimburse doctors for the cost of treating the patient; it reimburses what the bureaucracy “deems” it to have cost. In a deemocracy, this works. In real life, it’s more problematic.

Investor’s Business Daily argues that the “health” debate is really a proxy fight on the size and role of government. According to its poll, 64 percent of people think the federal government has “too much power.” Correct. But a big chunk of that 64 percent voted less than 18 months ago for a man and a party explicitly committed to more government with more power, and they’re living with the consequences. Mr. Obama is government, and government is Mr. Obama. That’s all he knows and all he’s ever known. You elected to the highest office in the land a man who has never run a business or created wealth or made a payroll and for his entire adult life has hung out with guys who have demonized (deemonized) such grubby activities. Many of those associates he appointed to high office: Mr. Obama’s Cabinet has less experience of private business than any in the last century. What it knows is government, and government’s default mode is to grow and grow. California is bankrupt: The dependent class and the government class that issues the checks to the dependent class have squeezed out the poor boobs in the middle who have to pay for it all. Everybody knows this. But a state that already has a Bureau of Home Furnishings cannot restrain itself from setting up a Bureau of Motion Picture Condom Regulation - or, anyway, an impact study to study whether the Bureau of Impact Studies should study the impact of a Bureau of Motion Picture Condom Regulation.

Look around you, and take it all in. From now on, it gets worse. If you have children, they’ll live in smaller homes, drive smaller cars, live smaller lives. If you don’t have children, you had better hope your neighbors do, because someone needs to spawn a working population large enough to pay for the unsustainable entitlements the Obama party has suckered you into thinking you’re entitled to. The unfunded liabilities of current entitlements are $100 trillion. Try typing that onto your pocket calculator. You can’t. There isn’t enough room for all the zeroes, and even if they made a pocket calculator large enough, and a pocket large enough, you’d be walking with a limp. To these existing entitlements, Mr. Obama and his enforcers in Congress propose to add the grandest of all: health care, on a scale no advanced democracy has ever attempted. Whatever is “deemed” to have passed doesn’t end the debate but begins it. If you’re sick of talking about health care, move to Tahiti, because in the United States, we’re going to be talking about it until the end of time, or at least until the Iranians nuke Cleveland.

It isn’t difficult. We need less government, with smaller budgets, fewer agencies and vastly reduced numbers of public-sector union employees on less lavish remuneration. I’m confident the California Bureau of Condom Regulators can be retrained as porn-movie bit players and once again make a useful contribution to society. But if you’re not in favor of shrinking government, you’re voting for national decline, remorseless and ever accelerating.

Mr. Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are strong-arming swing-state congressmen into taking one for the deem. It’s appropriate that it takes banana-republic maneuvers to ram this through, because it’s about government so powerful it can make up the rules as it goes along. Maybe regulators should roll a giant condom over the Capitol before it fatally infects the rest of us.

Mark Steyn is the author of the New York Times best-seller “America Alone” (Regnery, 2006).

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