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Opening Arguments


A writer at The Nation Review's blog, The Corner, takes up the cause of congressional meddling in TV volume and lumps it in with the congressional ban of the incandescent light bulb and the federal government banning all-caps street signs and even dictating the font:

The problem is not that these things create unnecessary costs or destroy jobs, which they do, or that lawmakers have more important things to do, which is also true. Rather, the federal government has no business doing any of these things.

Agreed on the light bulbs, which is meddling on a grand scale. Not so sure about the sign thing, though. Yes, it sounds outrageous on first hearing. The federal government has dictated that all street and road signs have lettering at least six inches tall, be upper and lower case rather than all caps, have more reflectivity and use a specific font called Clearview. The cost seems asstronomical -- $27.5 million in New York City alone.

But, well. Signs have a limited life span, and the required changes can be made over several years, so the cost is sort of a phony issue. And the reason given for the changes -- to make the signs more readable to motorists so safety will be enhanced -- is valid; any proofreader can tell you all-caps are harder to read, and the font does matter. And requiring uniformity in certain things (money, for instance) is a legitimate federal function.

And this is not exactly a new foray by Big Brother into unexplored territory. The Clearview font was developed specifically for the Federal Highway Administration to replace the FHWA typeface developed by the goverment and used on our road signs since the 1940s.

OK, all done now. Some of you liberals stop saying "I told you so!" long enough to go help the libertarians out of their dead faint.