“I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said ‘I want to be let alone!’ ” – Greta Garbo; “The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.” – William O. Douglas, U.S. Supreme Court

Actually, Garbo said “I want to be alone” a couple of times in the film “Grand Hotel” but she was such a big star in her time and the line became so well known that everybody thought she said it off camera too. It didn’t help that she abandoned her film career after a dispute with the studio and essentially told everybody to take a hike, only in Swedish. I don’t know how you say “take a hike” in Swedish, but it probably has a lot of those o’s with the line through them. I wouldn’t be surprised to find the word, IKEA figuring prominently either. Also, the Grand Hotel in the movie isn’t the same one mentioned in the album, “Machine Head” by Deep Purple in their hit song “Smoke on the Water” although it would be really cool if it was. The first one is in Berlin and the second in Montreux (Switzerland.) I think they’re both landmarks – something like our Tiltin’ Hilton.

Garbo 01

As for Justice Douglas, he was married four times so he obviously didn’t want very badly to be left alone. But the Idler believes that both these characters were onto something: We should all have the right to be left alone.

Remember Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York? Here’s a guy who ran a city of eight and a half million people. There are 35,000 policemen on the force, almost 9,000 police cars, 11 boats, 9 helicopters, 120 horses and 35 dogs. There are 11,000 firemen and 3500 EMT’s. He had a couple hundred miles of subway to worry about. He had to keep millions of lights on and a lot of water running. So what was his big issue? He wanted to tell everybody how big a Mountain Dew they can buy. It took a judge to tell him: “Hey, Bloomberg: leave people alone!”

I wish they’d leave the bars alone too. The idler’s tobacco use does not exceed 4 cigars a month, but if you want to smoke more than that or less or not at all, go right ahead. And if a tavern owner wants to allow smoking in his establishment, that’s his business. If I decline to patronize him because it’s too smoky, that’s mine. See? No policemen needed.

Then there are the Health Department busybodies. Remember “Piegate” a few years ago when jackbooted thugs from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture tried to shut down St. Cecilia’s lenten fish-fry bake sale? The trumped-up reason was that none of the grandmas who baked the goodies did so in a licensed “commercial” kitchen.They called off the SWAT team because of the public outcry, and the contraband pastry went back on sale. A Rochester area parishioner must have shouted, “Give me blueberry, or give me death!”

The EPA recently promulgated thousands of new regulations. There’s no telling what effect shutting down coal fired power plants will have on your utility budget, but the clincher was the new regulatory framework governing wood burning stoves. Seriously, they’re going to regulate your wood stove.

One of the gripes about George III that Jefferson listed in the declaration was: ”He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people.” Our founding fathers wanted to be left alone. Happy Independence Day!
Comments – DickVerbo@hotmail.com

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