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The Nanny State is alive and well
Posted by: McQ on Monday, March 05, 2007

Goodness knows we've written enough about the Nanny state, it's dangers and its expansion. Reason magazine has also gone on a riff about it in a recent article. The key sentence in the article is:
Although Democrats frequently are portrayed as meddling do-gooders eager to save you from yourself, they are no worse in this respect than Republicans. The targets may differ, but the basic impulse is the same.
I agree. As I've characterized the two before, Democrats are the Mommy party and Republicans are the Daddy party. And what most of us adults out here who don't identify with either of them keep saying is we don't need another mommy or daddy.

The latest example of mommyism Reason discusses are the recent trans fat bans, (we've written about them here, here and here) which I consider to be the latest in "pop legislation". The reasoning for the laws is specious at best, but they do demonstrate how far we've wandered from a government that focuses on protecting its citizens and their rights from force or fraud. As Reason notes:
On February 8, the Philadelphia City Council, which consists of 14 Democrats and three Republicans, voted unanimously to impose a similar ban. The legislators pushing trans fat bans in Chicago, California, and New Hamphire are all Democrats, displaying their party's indomitable faith in the efficacy of social engineering.

"We talk about obesity as a national epidemic leading to diabetes and all the other health care costs," state Rep. Paul McEachern, co-sponsor of the New Hampshire trans fat bill, recently told The Boston Globe. "This is something that will have a measurable effect, and it doesn't cost any money."

Well, it doesn't cost any money if you don't count the costs imposed on restaurateurs forced to find new fats for frying and baking. And since the new fats will have just as many calories as the old fats, it's hard to see how the switch will have "a measurable impact" on obesity. But McEachern means well, and that's what matters.

Even if his bill doesn't pass, said McEachern, "with the publicity surrounding this, people will realize that 'maybe we are better off going to a restaurant that doesn't use trans fats.'" Exactly what is stopping them from doing that now isn't clear.
The highlighted phrase is key. Legislation from both parties is aimed more and more at social engineering, the attempt to change, by law, behavior in order to have it conform to some favored outcome, than ever before. Any cursory look at the abomination we call tax laws will show obvious attempts, for instance, to engineer behavior through that venue.

And Republicans are no different. They just have a different focus:
Before we get carried away scolding Democrats for all their scolding, let's recall that Republicans are leading the crusade to stop you from using the Internet to play poker or bet on football games. It's a Republican administration that has revived the effort to prevent adults from looking at dirty pictures in the privacy of their homes. And while the war on drugs is a bipartisan project, Republicans are noticeably more enthusiastic about imposing draconian prison sentences on drug offenders.
So, in terms of such things as trans fats and gambling, what, if any real place, does government have in that debate? Do you agree that it should decide what is good for you and what private companies can or can't use in or offer as products for you?

Or, at most, do you think that it is government's role to inform us as to the dangers such things as trans fats pose and let us make the final decision on use?

As Reason asks, given the information available about trans fats, what exactly is keeping consumers from avoiding establishments now who continue to use them?

More importantly, why is it any of government's business to begin with?

If you agree that government should have a role in legislating bans such as this instead of giving you the freedom of choice, where do you draw the line? Or do you?
 
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So, in terms of such things as trans fats and gambling, what, if any real place, does government have in that debate? Do you agree that it should decide what is good for you and what private companies can or can’t use in or offer as products for you
At least in the case of gambling, it’s more of a money grab I think - they want to get their hands on taxable income. To me, that’s a greedier (but slightly better) motive than social engineering. But I digress.

There has to be some level of regulation. The govt has an interest to close down KFCs with 500 rats running around, or Taco Bells with bacterial contamination in the lettuce. It has an interest in regulating things that cause an immediate public health threat if left unchecked. Regulating transfats? Not so much.

The idea isn’t to protect people from making their own bad choices. It is to ensure a standard of health/sanitation so as to prevent outbreaks of widespread illness. Banning transfats isn’t part of that mission.

I have no problem with an educational blitz aimed at informing people that transfats cause x,y,z. That’s as far as it should go.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
The only reason for government to get involved is if the finantial costs of an action are borne society rather than the individual.

So we require people to wear seat belts, motor cycle helmets and prohibit cigarettes because it saves billions in health care costs at a time when healthcare costs are going out of control. It’s either that or raise taxes and premiums to pay for it. If we fix healthcare so you pay for your own stupidity then we can lose the nanny.

A healthy workforce is much like an educated workforce. It makes more contributions to tax tax revenue than it adds costs. If it makes sense in cost benefit terms, I’m all for it. By causing the demand for government services to go down they make governement reletively smaller.



 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Did I understand cindyb’s comment correctly? She would have us hand over all control of our lives to the government, so they can fix us. In the hope that after we are fixed we will not need the government.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
With gambling, shark, the foremost concern would seem to be forbidding direct competition that lure the gambling dollar away from state lotteries, never mind the transactions and winnings that might elude taxation.

As for "regulating things that cause an immediate public health threat," where does that end? The least suggestion of the least affect on health long-term seems "immediate" enough to cause gov’t types to sound alarms and restrict individual choice.
If we fix healthcare so you pay for your own stupidity then we can lose the nanny. — cindyb
We, or rather, government, wouldn’t have to "fix" healthcare in order to bring about this state of affairs; the government would only have to back away and respect individual sovereignty. Not that I think that’s going to happen.
By causing the demand for government services to go down they make governement reletively smaller.
By endlessly hectoring and nagging and bitching and forbidding and directing and being a general in-your-face know-it-all, they make government relatively more insufferable. And bigger too, of course.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
With gambling, shark, the foremost concern would seem to be forbidding direct competition that lure the gambling dollar away from state lotteries, never mind the transactions and winnings that might elude taxation.
Fair enough- it’s still a bit of a money grab in that case.
As for "regulating things that cause an immediate public health threat," where does that end? The least suggestion of the least affect on health long-term seems "immediate" enough to cause gov’t types to sound alarms and restrict individual choice
In my opinion, it ends with "immediate". Ensuring that restaurants don’t serve bacteria-laden meals? OK. Ensuring that restaurants prepare their food in a manner consistant with the current healthly eating trends? Nope.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Ensuring that restaurants prepare their food in a manner consistant with the current healthly eating trends? Nope.
So, before or after SouthBeach/Atkins or when eating eggs were known to be really bad for you (or back in the early 1900’s when you shouldn’t eat WARM bread, and should only eat it when it had cooled....the list goes.....on.....an on.....and......on).
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Once again Government proves the adage "No man’s Life, Liberty, nor Property is safe while the Legislature remains in session"
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
NH’s Democrats are going to be thrown out on their nanny state butts on 2008 if they don’t cut this out! It’s digusting what they are trying to do.
 
Written By: NH
URL: http://
My mother is visiting me now, and she is a firm believer in government control. I was quite shocked when she supported the trans-fat bans, the no-I-pod crossing the street ban, etc.

She also said we should build a high speed rail across California because too many people are driving from Sacramento to L.A., based on the philosophy of "why not try it?" (regardless of cost or that people could already fly if they wanted to...)

Now, am I the one brainwashed by the libertarian websites I am visiting, or is my mom getting brainwashed by the MSM (she has no computer?)
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
My mother is visiting me now, and she is a firm believer in government control.
Lots of people are in favor of government control - as long as they’re controlling someone else.

You might ask your mom if she would like government to take away something she likes because somebody somewhere says its bad. I expect you’ll get a different reaction.

On the high speed rail, you know exactly why you differ in opinions. You understand economics and she doesn’t. My mother doesn’t either. She also believes in various wacky government programs, and has a sense of entitlement that makes me grit my teeth.

But my mom is seventy, and there’s no point in arguing with her. In a sense, she’s right. The consequences of her favored government largesse won’t come in her lifetime. And she doesn’t want to think about what it will do to her grandchildren’s lives, because that would be difficult and too painful.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://

 
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