Big Government in an Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny Bikini

An entire weekly national magazine could be devoted just to tracking government interference, regulations, new regulations, pending regulations and regulations threatened just to bring forth competing lobbyists with money. Anybody who would insist any business or industry is “unregulated” is a liar of grand proportions.

Because of my work, I receive and read trade journals from more than 50 different industries and fields. Every one devotes pages every month to new government meddling.

But the general public doesn’t read industry trade journals. They don’t read Nation’s Restaurant News, to see that just as the trans-fat ban has taken hold, the next wave – regulation of restaurants’ use of sodium (salt) – is on the horizon. They don’t read the Farm Bureau publications to hear of changes in federal guidelines for beekeeping. They don’t read the direct marketing publications’ reporting on do-not-mail list legislation percolating in a dozen states (somewhat similar to do-not-call, threatening to increase the USPS’ deficits, kill jobs at USPS and throughout the private sector, hamper small businesses and give advantage to colossal ones.)

So. The New Jersey Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling has most recently been applying its bureaucratic, regulatory zeal to one of the state’s biggest crises: injuries sustained by women seeking the perfect bikini line. Apparently, two – count ‘em now, two – women have been hospitalized for infections purportedly resulting from getting Brazilian bikini waxes that completely bare the genitals. One has even sued, according to the spokesman for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs, the government agency that oversees the other government agency, the Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling. I didn’t get this from local media in New Jersey, by the way. It was picked up as news of such national importance it made its way across states, to the D.C. Examiner, a Washington, D.C. newspaper.

I seem to recall much bigger numbers of people taken deathly ill by lead poisoning in everything from toys to toothpaste to foods imported from China, that we lack the financial resources and manpower to police. Thousands are apparently destitute thanks to losses with Madoff, AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, General Motors and other long-running financial scams perpetrated right under the noses of regulators and Congress.

On Meet The Press, Arizona Senator John McCain blandly acknowledged that his home city, Phoenix, was now ‘the kidnapping capitol;’ a kidnapping a day in PhoenixU.S. citizens dragged across the Mexican border we lack the will and resources to control. He didn’t express outrage or put forth an urgent plan for this crisis.

It’s actually kind of cheery to think of a place with so few problems its government is free to focus on dangerous bikini waxing. Maybe we should all move to the Garden State.

Seriously, this sort of thing is representative of everything that’s wrong with the idea of government as parent. Trying to take enough tax dollars from us to fund mammoth bureaucracies to interfere with and micro-micro-manage every little detail of everyone’s lives, largely by piling impossible regulation on top of impossible regulation on every business, large and small. To paraphrase the enraged CNBC reporter’s screamed question about mortgage bail-outs, do you really think you should be paying to make bikini waxing safe for the women of your city, state or the country? Is this what you have in mind when you watch from one-third to three-fourths of your income swallowed up by government? Which do you judge more critical: more cops on the streets or more cosmetology inspectors in bikini wax salons?

We really must grow up, before the cost of government as parent crushes us all to death.

As silly as my chosen example is – intended to let you make up your own jokes – it is symbolic of the great war we now find ourselves in. On one side are those determined to build an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-doing, cradle-to-grave parental bureaucracy that invades even the most trivial aspects of our lives with promises of no individual risk and no personal responsibility at whatever impossible cost. On the other side are those of us who wish to reverse this trend toward socialism, beat the insatiably power-hungry monster back into a small cage, shrink the size and reach and interference and dominance of government in favor of individual, personal rights, opportunities and responsibilities.

The war is in progress, in Congress, in the media, in our streets, in New Jersey, in the little room in the back of the salon where the desperate housewives risk all for the perfect bikini wax.

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur, adviser to business owners, sought-after speaker and author of 13 books. More information about Dan can be found at, and a free collection of his business resources including newsletters and webinars at<?xml:namespace prefix = o />