More Bugs, Fewer Lawns

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That disingenuous theme, "for the children," has been rearing its ugly head once again. This time, it’s in the name of consumer protection, that oh-so-important function of government. The latest target of this twaddle is pesticide, that delightful technology that keeps our lawns looking bourgeois and our homes spider-free.

The Detroit Free Press recently completed what they probably had hoped would be a scathing indictment of big, bad, child-killing lawn-care companies licensed to do business in the state of Michigan. However, the report occasioned into a low-level survey of those companies that have recently been assessed for violating the state’s regulatory policies regarding lawn pesticides.

Some reasons for the assessed fines are the following:

  • Forgetting to post signs telling people to stay off a sprayed lawn until the chemicals dry, which is required under state law.
  • An employee applying pesticide was seen by a state regulator doing so while wearing gym shoes, instead of protective boots, as required by state law.
  • Having employees applying lawn pesticides that were not certified by the almighty state.
  • Failing to record exactly how much pesticide was applied on a particular visit

The Free Press report sheds some tears over the fact that there are only sixteen paid state bureaucrats available to crack down on the “villainous” lawn services, all in the name of consumer justice. More state bureaucrats, of course, equals more regulatory follow-up, which is just plain heaven in the eyes of those who love all the regulations of such regulatory baloney.

Lawn pesticides are under heavy attack because they are just another one of those things that can kill our children, according to the Oprah-Book-Club Bunch. Guns head the killing-our-children list, and if we add kitchen knives, dark alternative music, and riding in the back of pick-up trucks to that list, we have room for a whole new pack of government agencies to guide its subjects through basic common-sense procedures. Then, these new agencies will breed thousands of new bureaucrats able to get lifetime tenure on the taxpayer dole.

We Americans love our lawns. The idea of the lawn originated in England, and has become somewhat of an obsession in modern suburban America. We like lawns because they provide a nice green contrast to our gray cement and white siding; because we can play football on our lawn, and getting tackled is like landing on a silk pad; and, because our neighbors would stomp and holler if we just let our "native grasses" grow as Mother Nature would have it.

However, the environmentalist halfwits that have always used all things cute and cuddly as a pretext for eliminating pesticides are now turning to things even more cute and cuddly: the children.

For example, the use of Dursban (chlorpyrifos), one of the most widely used active ingredients for pest control products, was effectively eliminated for almost all non-agricultural uses by the EPA in 2000. In fact, its use was heavily abridged even in the agricultural sense. Chlorpyrifos, a glorious termite killer, was also commonly used to spray apples, tomatoes, and grapes. As EPA bureaucrat, Carol Browner, said at that time, "it is clear the time has come to take action to protect our children from exposure to this chemical.”

The anti-pesticide people must base the children argument on the fact that should a lawn be sprayed with pesticide, children may then go out on that lawn and roll their faces in the pesticide, breathe it in, and hence, be gravely endangered. How is it so easy for the Ralph Nader types to dismiss personal responsibility and parental accountability in such matters? Has it been proven too difficult for one to keep her children off the lawn on the day that it has been sprayed?

We know the pesticide-hating green crowd believe that individuals are unable to make everyday decisions, and that this responsibility can only be handed down in the form of management from the State. So, therefore, the State must step in and apply its unlimited authority over all people to combat the possibility that those making the decisions lack the proper common sense to do so. That is how the State seizes its authority from individuals, usually at the behest of special interest groups that want to lord it over us all.

The nefarious EPA, instead of challenging the use of chlorpyrifos via the usual time-consuming, rule-making procedures, used its coercive powers to force the manufacturers into agreements that limited production, and hence, hamper the availability of this glorious bug-killer. This was said to be for the purposes of "limiting the risk to children." One supposes that means we allow government employees to determine what children are more likely to eat or touch, and then make sure that those items are treated differently — via the regulation route — than items typically used by adults. Not only do government bureaucrats play with the law of averages, they determine we can "kill" adults but not children if their children argument prevails.

The environmentalists jump on this consumer protection hubbub in spite of the fact that it’s about not saving things green. In other words, not controlling lawn pests means killing green grass. This is sort of a lawn-for-bugs deal, one supposes.

However, one cannot assume that the environmentalist Left loves pests more than green grass. The green crowd is in this because they love leftist, pro-bureaucracy politics more than they love green lawns, and because suburban lawns aren’t as au natural as they would like. Green lawns in middle-class suburban America represent something too bourgeois and unnatural, and probably, too individualistic. In fact, the environmentalists have some half-witted ideas like tearing up our grassy lawns and replacing them with natural gardens or "native grasses" to please their own interests, private property rights and personal choice be damned.

Another chilling example of special interests and the State stomping on the rights of citizens and the private pest control businesses is the DDT ban. In 1973, this fabulous chemical, the great mosquito killer, was banned in the United States and most of the western world. Since then, malaria cases and related deaths have risen dramatically. Some developing nations, however, continue to use DDT to control mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects. Of course, nothing was more safe or effective for home use than DDT, but it’s a politically incorrect substance that bureaucrat-loving socialists love to hate. So therefore, we effectively “save the children,” and in return we kill healthy adults, and yes, realistically, we also kill the children.

Let’s get the State out of our business, let’s make our lives and lawns bug-free, and let’s do that for the children.

Karen De Coster [send her mail] is a politically incorrect CPA, and an MA student in economics at Walsh College in Michigan.

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