Young children do not like to be told what to do. What parent hasn’t heard a recalcitrant child spout the words, “You are not the boss of me!” The tot cannot wait to grow up so she can make her own decisions. Or will she? If she grows up to live in a nanny state, then she very well may still have someone telling her what to do–or not to do..
What’s a “nanny state?” Good question. Sounds political since a state is involved, but I never heard the term even though I have a degree in political science. A “nanny state” is a term of British origin conveying the idea that the government is acting in an overprotective way or a way unduly interfering with personal choice.
An example of a nanny state regulation would be laws which require motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Common sense tells you that if you wear a helmet, you might be better protected from injury in the case of an accident. If you are old enough to know better, but choose not to follow this safety practice, do we need a governmental nanny to tell us you HAVE to do so?
At least in the case of helmet laws, the health threat might resolve itself without governmental interference. Survival of the fittest would result in a decline in the dumb bunny population of people who think they are invincible and can take great risks with harm. As a result of injury or death, the helmetless motorcycle rider population should be reduced.
Certainly it is a nanny or parent’s job to protect a minor child from harm, but is it the government’s place to protect an adult from the consequences of his own decisions? Ronald Reagan didn’t think so. He once said, “”Where government has gone beyond the limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”
Ronald Reagan is no longer with us, but the nanny state is apparently alive and well. On June 16, 2016, the Philadelphia City Council became the first major American city to pass a soda tax. Why? Because we all know that government has nothing better to do than sit around and come up with a good health plan for us. Who cares about aging infrastructures, crime, mass transportation issues, etc.? What’s in the adult sippy cup is MUCH more of a priority–NOT.
The City of Brotherly Love is so concerned about it citizenry that it wants to ensure that they make good health choices. Currently 68% of adult Philadelphians and 41% of minor Philadelphians are obese. To herd its citizenry along the right health path, the Philadelphia City Council will impose, effective January 1, 1917, a 1.5 cent tax on an ounce of soda. This tax will mean that the cost of a 12 ounce soda will rise 18 cents. In the City’s defense, it kindly did not ban the sale of soda entirely like NYC did large sugary carbonated beverages. ; Philadelphia citizens have the option to continue to drink the unhealthy beverage–if they can afford it.
Do bureaucrats really know better how to manage our health than we do? It is possible with all the resources at their disposal that bureaucrats may have more comprehensive and up to date information on health issues than Joe Citizen. So what? Isn’t the right to make your own personal choices (poor or wise) the whole point of adulthood?
It simply isn’t the government’s place to tell me what I should drink with my meal. If I want to throw caution to the wind and celebrate the end of a work week by downing a large soda possibly accompanied by large fries and a Big Mac, what business is it of the government’s? What’s next? Setting a ceiling on the calorie count of a purchased meal?
Obviously there are limits to the personal choices that can be afforded to citizens. We can’t all decide to drive whatever speed we desire. Public safety is one thing, but my personal health is another. We don’t need a nanny state; we need a government that will let us have it our way (a la Burger King) in certain matters of personal choice. If I indulge in too many calorie laden drinks and can no longer fit in my jeans, that’s on me–literally and figuratively. I will be the one to suffer the consequences, as well I should.
A balance has to be struck between the public good and personal choice. The boundary between the two, the point at which the government should not overstep is blurry. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that the nanny state needs to keep its fingers out of my pie or anything else on my plate or in my cup. No, no, nanny state! Back off!