Sunday, May 04, 2008

When Life Gives You (Hard) Lemonade, The Nanny State Will Make Lemons For You

It's been a few days since I first heard about it, but I still can't believe this story. "Advice Goddess" Amy Alkon tells the tale:
You could've filled Tiger Stadium (aka Comerica Park) with the tidal wave of idiot-ade in this little drama.

Start with one University of Michigan archeology professor, a little more versed in ancient culture than consumer culture, who takes his 7-year-old kid to the ball game.

He spots a sign: Mike's Lemonade, $7. Being a nice dad, he buys his kid a lemonade. Yeah, the price is kind of inflated, but it's the ball park, and he's probably focused on having a nice time with his kid.

Whoops, seems that's not just Mike's Lemonade, but Mike's Hard Lemonade, with a whopping 5% alcohol in it.
Uh-oh. The story continues, via Brian Dickerson of the Detroit Free Press:
If you watch much television, you've probably heard of a product called Mike's Hard Lemonade.

And if you ask Christopher Ratte and his wife how they lost custody of their 7-year-old son, the short version is that nobody in the Ratte family watches much television.

The way police and child protection workers figure it, Ratte should have known that what a Comerica Park vendor handed over when Ratte ordered a lemonade for his boy three Saturdays ago contained alcohol, and Ratte's ignorance justified placing young Leo in foster care until his dad got up to speed on the commercial beverage industry.

...It wasn't until the top of the ninth inning that a Comerica Park security guard noticed the bottle in young Leo's hand.

"You know this is an alcoholic beverage?" the guard asked the professor.

"You've got to be kidding," Ratte replied. He asked for the bottle, but the security guard snatched it before Ratte could examine the label.

...An hour later, Ratte was being interviewed by a Detroit police officer at Children's Hospital, where a physician at the Comerica Park clinic had dispatched Leo -- by ambulance! -- after a cursory exam.
Dear Lord. Alkon wasn't kidding about the idiocy. But wait--it gets worse:
Leo betrayed no symptoms of inebriation. But the physician and a police officer from the Comerica substation suggested the ER visit after the boy admitted he was feeling a little nauseated.

The Comerica cop estimated that Leo had drunk about 12 ounces of the hard lemonade, which is 5% alcohol. But an ER resident who drew Leo's blood less than 90 minutes after he and his father were escorted from their seats detected no trace of alcohol.

"Completely normal appearing," the resident wrote in his report, "... he is cleared to go home."

But it would be two days before the state of Michigan allowed Ratte's wife, U-M architecture professor Claire Zimmerman, to take their son home, and nearly a week before Ratte was permitted to move back into his own house.

...And so what had begun as an outing to the ballpark ended with Leo crying himself to sleep in front of a television inside the Child Protective Services building, and Ratte and his wife standing on the sidewalk outside, wondering when they'd see their little boy again.
All I can say after reading that story is this: The Nanny State has got to go. Now.

Let's allow you to be the judge as well. Take a look at the sign above the stand that sold the lemonade. Notice how the word "Hard" is conspicuous by its absence. Sure, it might have aroused suspicion that the lemonade cost more than a beer...but hey, it is the ballpark, after all. Who hasn't spent way too much for a cold drink on a hot day? (I can't begin to tell you how many $4 Cokes I bought when the All-Star Game was in Arlington in '95 and we were seated in far left field, right in the crosshairs of the burning July sun.)

I'll let some commenters (from Alkon's site and the Freep story) have their say, because there's some great stuff in here:
  • "The trouble with regulations is that, in the end, they always replace intelligent thinking."--Kirk, at Alkon

  • "Meanwhile, there's some kid sitting in the squalor of an inner city tenement with his mom turning tricks to make money so she can buy more crack. The kid hasn't had a decent meal, a bath or clean clothes in months. There are rats and roaches running around the place. And CPS is no where to be found because they are "protecting" a 7 yr old with two clueless university professors for parents."--newstroll, at the Freep

  • "Europe had it right, kids grow up with weak wine and by the time they are adults, they tend to have much less problems with alcoholism than we do in America. Hmmmm. Why do we so often reject proven successful ideas while stubbornly repeating the same old failed policies over and over and over again?"--Bikerken, at Alkon

  • "This is what happens when we surrender our natural and Constitutional rights as parents to an ever-encroaching government that thirsts for power. Incrementally we have elevated the state to having a greater say in our children's lives "for the good of the children" as if the state is an all-loving god that really cares. This goes for their education, healthcare, job training, etc. all because the state has a "compelling interest" which overrides any parental interests. So we hear a case in the news of terrible parents who do bad things and we clamor that "there ought to be a law against that" and demand that "someone do something." So the state steps in. Now no one wants to see a child abused but the flip side of making policy based on the behavior of the few, is that it enslaves EVERYONE (including the good) to the state and forces us to answer to it even when nothing is wrong (as was the case with this story). To be continued..."--RXEnergy, at the Freep

  • "The rooted problem with this story, one that has really pulled at my heartstring (yes, i do, is the persistent drive of the government to come between father and son, parent and child.

    More subtle, is that those who work in these capacities for the government are simple-minded persons who think they are only doing 'thier job', without contemplation of the serious consequences that can, and often does, last a lifetime.
    "--j.d., at Alkon

  • "This whole thing reminds me of another group of government employees about 65-70 years ago that kept using the line, "I was only following orders." Can't any of these state employees involved in this thing use their own brains?"--dns33, at the Freep

  • "I think that the major problem is that the system has been geared and gotten legal support for dealing with the very worse case scenarios. This is not to say that the worse case scenarios aren't important, but what has happened is that the methods for dealing with the very worse abusers, are being used across the board as standard operating procedure."--DuWayne, at Alkon

  • "What is maddening about this and other similar fiascoes with this department, is that there appear to be no consequences. Not one of these " apologetic" individuals stopped to ask, "What would best serve this child"? We should be horrified that such mindlessness is encouraged by this failed system, and that there is such pressure to "follow orders" (or procedure) without the apparent encouragement to use or have a functioning body of common sense. I DO think that there should be repercussions for those involved...I am an RN, and I am NEVER allowed to use the excuse that "I was told to", or that "The system or rules made me afraid to act"..I am required to THINK about every action which will affect the well-being of another, and to act accordingly. I expect the same of others, and if that's not how that system/department is designed, it MUST be changed."--jimmish, at the Freep
And we'll end on a somewhat humorous note:
  • "Read a great story on this subject a few years ago: A woman was awakened in the middle of the night by a noise in the kitchen, and found her four yr old son had drunk a bottle of beer and was acting a little tipsy. She called her pediatrician, who was less than dazzled to be called about this, and asked him what she should do. He told her to just put him to bed, he'd be okay in the morning. "But should I give him anything?" she asked. "Got any pretzels?" he replied."--billmax, at Alkon
(Sorry for the long quotes, but I wanted to give a good sampling of the comments that support my point without your having to slog through them all yourself.)

I still really don't know what to say about this story, except that the security guard, the policeman, and everyone up the chain at CPS probably should have been given pink slips for this. The Nanny State has already been given an inch and taken several hundred miles, and we as a people have to rise up and stop it. We need term limits for bureaucrats as well as lawmakers; nobody works in government for more than ten, twelve years, tops. After that, they need to find a job in a field that actually produces something; if they have no talent for such things, it's back to college for them...or they can do those "jobs that Americans refuse to do" that are currently held by illegals, therefore killing two birds with one stone.

And as always, I fear that this won't be the last post on this subject...

No comments: