The Nanny State is back: NYC wants to move the smoking age to 21

The Nanny State is at it again. Known for banning sugary beverages and other substances that are deemed bad for the human body, New York City now wants to legally move the smoking age from 18 to 21 through a new proposal introduced by City Council on Monday.

It is a well known fact that tobacco can cause cancer and other health ailments. So does a plethora of other substances and activities.  Sitting on the couch for twelve hours a day while eating potato chips is bad for you too. Should that be banned as well? Perhaps the New York City Council should change it up a bit and look into proposing a law that requires every Big Apple resident to run three miles every morning? It’s good for their health!

Instead of legislating personal freedoms, why not put forth the effort to promote personal accountability and responsibility? Government is most successful in an advisory role where it informs citizens of hazards, just as it has done with the warning labels on cigarettes. Once warned, adults should have the freedom to make their own decisions, not have it dictated to them by their government. If you chose to smoke or drink a 32-ounce soda, you live with the consequences, as with most decisions made in life.

Unfortunately moving the legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21 will prove to be ineffective in preventing smoking in adults and instead create just another law that diminishes personal freedoms. The mere existence of the law would further promote the pampering of young adults while continuing to blur the line of adult responsibility and being held accountable.

At the age of 18, if you are old enough to join the United States Military, fight in our nation’s wars and possibly die for your country, you are old enough to make your own decisions surrounding the purchase of tobacco.

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Follow Amber on Twitter at @AmberBarno

Americans Will Not be Terrorized by the Boston Marathon Bombings

Shock is the first emotion that comes to mind after learning of the cowardly bombings that exploded at the Boston Marathon on Patriot’s Day. How and why are insurgency type terrorism tactics occurring in America?

As Americans we’ve seen on the news senseless Improvised Explosive Device (IED) type bombing in hotels and coffee shops in places like Israel and throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia.  But it is a rare occasion to see such a terrorist attack in one of our nation’s landmark cities.

Whether it is domestic or foreign terrorism, make no mistake, this is not just a tragedy, it was a deliberate act of terror meant to maim and inflict mass murder on American civilians. As with most acts of terrorism, the goal is to spread fear and disrupt our way of life. What terrorists never seem to understand is that Americans don’t get scared, we fight back. Americans become outraged and demand justice for those who commit such heinous acts. For this reason, terrorism will never be successful in our great nation.  As we saw on 9/11, the Atlanta Olympics bombing and in the Boston Marathon bombings, Americans don’t run away from acts of terror, they run towards it to aid fellow Americans.

As Americans, we are not afraid. We are resilient and we will always persevere. Seeing the heroic and courageous acts of selflessness of the runners, spectators, first responders, and race workers in the immediate aftermath of yesterdays bombing is one more reason I am proud to be an American.  May God bless the victims in Boston.

Published at The Examiner:

Follow Amber on Twitter at @AmberBarno

Hillary Clinton: The campaign trail begins

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Margaret Thatcher

Speculation that Hillary Clinton may run for President in 2016 was brought to light when she addressed the Women in the World summit in New York. America’s former First Lady and Secretary of State was consistently interrupted by cheers from the enthusiastic crowd.  At the Summit she was joined by celebrity household names such as Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie and Eva Longoria to bring women together from around the globe to acknowledge and recognize women’s rights activists in developing nations.

During Clinton’s speech, she stressed a plethora of issues women face around the world. She spoke of Malala, the 15 year old Pakistani activist who was attacked by the Taliban and of a woman in Delhi, India who was gang raped and murdered. Towards the end of her speech, she brought the issues home, declaring “The fact is that for too many American women, opportunity and the dream of upward mobility-the American Dream-remains elusive.” She went on to say, “In places around America, large and small, the clock is turning back.” Clinton continued, “If America is going to lead the way we expect ourselves to lead, we need to empower women here at home to participate fully in our economy and our society, we need to make equal pay a reality.”

Mrs. Clinton chose to expand on the War on Women rhetoric that was popular during the 2012 Presidential campaign, which was quick to monopolize women voters to promote blame over responsibility. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was inducted into law, making it illegal for employers to determine pay based upon gender. Since the law was enacted, the gender wage gap has continued to close.  Earlier this month the Wall Street Journal reported on a new study from Andreas Liebbrandt from Monash University and John List from the University of Chicago, expressed negotiation of salary might have more to do with the gender wage gap than ever believed. The article stated: ‘They found that when the issue of salary remained ambiguous, male applicants were far more likely to negotiate than women. However, when it was explicit that the salary for the position could be negotiated, women ‘really follow the rules,’ Mr. List said. ‘When they’re told they can negotiate, they negotiate like mad. The female job applicants tended to shy away from job openings where rules on salary negotiation were ambiguous, while their male counterparts ‘embraced it,’ Mr. List said.” The fact that Clinton attempted to spread doubt among women at a conference by implying the clock on gender equality is turning back in America is nothing more than a fallacy.

Hillary Clinton has a big podium and a loud voice. She might want to consider using her platform to motivate women by discussing the freedoms and opportunities that are only available to women in this country and how they have full access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Free will and liberty is granted to select few outside of our borders. Those who work tirelessly, refuse to be victimized, take responsibility for their place in life, achieve success. Unfortunately Hillary has chosen to follow in Obama’s footsteps of preaching to American women about the fictitious war being waged against them. Until these ‘War on Women” type antics favored by Clinton and Obama cease, women empowerment will not be reached.

There is an abundance of women within our great nation who choose not to be victimized by self-declared role models such as Hillary Clinton. We don’t want to be labeled as suffering or needing to be further empowered. We are empowered thanks to those pioneers who came before us who had to overcome significant hurdles for gender equality. Today, we have a voice. We have the freedom to succeed. Determination and good old American hard work is what it takes to get there. Ladies, keep doing what you are doing. Keep striving to accomplish great things. You’re doing a great job!

It is distasteful to use such a podium as Clinton did to spread propaganda that American women are powerless to achieve the American Dream. But, as all seasoned politicians know, one should never waste an opportunity to have the spotlight on their own agenda. It is very clear that it was the beginning of many campaign speeches for Hillary. While 2016 may seem a world away, one thing we’ve all learned from our Commander in Chief is that it’s never too early to start campaigning or use scare tactics to gain supporters. After all, it worked twice, right?

Follow Amber on Twitter at @AmberBarno

Published at The Examiner:

Are All Veterans Created Equal?

There are few things more humbling and patriotic than witnessing a military funeral. Viewing the military customs, the decorative uniforms, and hearing taps echo through the trees, help those in attendance understand and appreciate their sacrifice.

It is an honour. It is a tradition. It is a service that is bestowed only to the finest men and women this country has to offer, its veterans.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan wrote an opinion piece last week that addressed the nation’s debt crisis, offering a solution by starting with cutting military funeral honors. McClellan went as far to say that ‘most veterans did nothing heroic,’ implying veterans’ military funerals are a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Well Mr. McClellan, I beg to differ.

Veterans are heroic. Each and every one of them. It doesn’t matter if they served as a cook or as an Infantryman. No matter the reason, each veteran felt the need to serve his or her country, which is heroic enough in itself. We need more brave men and women like our veterans in this country.

They understood the need to protect something larger than themselves and defend this great nation that has provided so many opportunities for so many people. They all take the same oath to protect and serve the United States of America no matter what the job title.

By joining the military, each person knows that there is a significant chance he or she could end up fighting our nation’s wars where their outcome is unknown. While certain jobs may be considered more dangerous than another, one does not diminish the other. The military is a team effort and it does not succeed with out the combined force. Each and every veteran matters. Our Nation’s veterans are not expendable and either are the honors they have respectfully earned.

McClellan stated “Everybody knows government needs to cut costs,” before making the recommendation that we start by stripping veterans of the honours they undoubtedly deserve, he may want to dig a bit deeper and see what the federal government is spending tax dollars on.

Might I suggest that McClellan research the area of government waste to discover the plethora of ‘smaller programs’ that could be at the top of the list above making any cuts to veterans programs. Make cuts in areas that are wasting taxpayer dollars. Do not disrespect the small but significant percentage of people who have defended our country so bravely.

Our veterans do not deserve to suffer for the inabilities of political leadership. They deserve to be recognised by the federal government with military honors if they so desire.

I’ve been to military funerals. I’ve served on military funeral details. I’ve been a military pallbearer. Let me tell you that it does matter.

It makes a difference to families and friends. It matters to fellow veterans. It matters that we as a nation value honoring all of our veterans who have done so much for our country. I for one think it is a disgrace to attack our veterans’ military honors for fiscal mismanagement.

Follow Amber on Twitter at @AmberBarno

Published at The Commentator: