I have no opinion whatsoever about POM’s pomegranate juice. I do, however, have strong opinions about bullying government agencies that use threats, economic blackmail, and death by bureaucracy to further agendas that may be costly, counter intuitive, politically driven, or otherwise disturbing to someone who, as I do, has a conservative/libertarian bent. I was therefore delighted to see that POM had a banner ad stretched across the top of today’s New York Times, inviting people to learn more about successful fight against the FTC.
When I was at law school, my Constitutional Law professor Phil Bobbitt (yes, this Phil Bobbitt) once asked the class why criminal defendants in America are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and why they have the right to counsel (this in response to a student’s observation that it just seemed wrong to work as a lawyer for criminal defendants). After we waffled around for a while, Prof. Bobbitt provided the answer, one that I’ll never forget: Nobody should have to stand alone when the great weight of the government is turned against him. That imagery — of a pathetically small individual standing alone, bravely facing the might of the government — was compelling, and certainly fed my nascent libertarianism.
Sadly, in the world of administrative “law” (or, as often as not, administrative lawlessness), everything is bass ackwards. There’s still the great weight of the government bearing down on the lone individual or corporation, but this unleashed government power is unaccompanied by the Constitutional protections that our criminal justice system extends to individuals and legal entities. When agencies attack, they do so with bared teeth and claws. Gibson Guitars knows this. Marylou’s knows this. Mike and Chantell Sackett know this. And now, of course, POM is learning this painful lesson.
With luck, what will happen is that the ever-expanding federal government overreaches itself while there’s still strength left in the Republic to prune it this unchecked power back to reasonable proportions. Otherwise, God help us all!
UPDATE: And just in today, another story of agency overreach, harassment, and intimidation.