≡ Menu

Tocqueville’s Predicted “Soft Despotism”

Here’s a letter that I sent on Thursday to the Washington Post:

The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved a bill to force television broadcasters to lower the volume of the commercials they run (“House votes to turn down volume of noisy TV ads,” Dec. 15).  Justifying this legislation, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) explains that each loud commercial is “an annoying experience, and something really should be done about it.”

How lucky we are that Congress – struggling to reform health-care, to save the planet from overheating, and to protect professional football players from concussions – can spare time and energy to relieve each American of the trouble of turning down the volume on his or her t.v. if a commercial is annoyingly loud.

But why stop there?  What about inky fingers from reading newspapers? Now that’s annoying!  Legislate against it.  And how about all those full-page ads in newspapers that distract readers’ attention from important news?  Another annoyance that Congress is duty-bound to banish from this great republic.  Oh, and let’s not forget those many front-page newspaper reports that break off in mid-sentence before being continued somewhere around page 9, foisting upon readers the annoyance of having to turn several pages before resuming reading.  Perhaps Congress can legislate against this bother.

Seriously, what’s truly annoying is Congress’s diarrhea of meddlesomeness.

Donald J. Boudreaux