From the Right: The proliferation of the nanny state
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 02:03
While enjoying my spring break, relaxing and hanging with friends and family, I privately rejoiced in the decision by the New York Supreme Court to strike down the soda ban pursued by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who in his three terms as mayor, through bans and policies, has transformed the Big Apple into an all-but full-fledged nanny state. In a nanny state, the choices of free people in a free society are superseded by the all-watching, always caring, “I know better than you do” government.
The ruling is not a case of judicial activism run amuck or conservative interfering; it’s common sense. Let the people of New York City, and frankly across America, live their lives by their own accords, not by the accords of government. The proposed soda ban by Bloomberg in New York is another unnecessary intrusion and detour by government into our personal choices and habits. If government can dictate what size of soda a person can drink, then where does the infringement end?
With his soda ban sidelined (for now) he’s going after cigarettes, trying to force businesses selling cigarettes to conceal them in an attempt to discourage smoking. I’ll admit smoking is not a healthy choice and I would not engage in it, but I would never make it my business as an elected official to force vendors to conceal them from public view. If people smoke, then the consequences are theirs and theirs alone. Smoking is a choice.
Sure, Mayor Bloomberg’s intentions are swell and duly noted, but then again the road to hell is paved with swell intentions. His New York City policies are reflective of a large issue spreading across these United States – an abdication of the personal liberty to the almighty government that claims to know what’s best for the American people. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve put my faith in the American people to make their own decisions.
Now, the concept of the nanny state is at times difficult to articulate. In my two previous columns I’ve tried to decry the problems with big government and its problem on American society. However, I am stating my opinion, and it can be taken for what it’s worth. When concrete examples come into play, such as the New York City mayor’s efforts to bypass the will of free people and to tell them what they can and cannot drink, it puts into context the ills of big government and why the nanny state must be rejected at all costs!
At stake in this argument over a nanny state and big government is liberty: the liberty of myself, those reading this column and the people of this country. Liberty is what the fight is about and liberty is more than personal freedom. It’s more than the freedom to do as one pleases. It is the freedom to make choices that affects one’s life.
If I choose to eat 50 donuts a day and drink a soda once before bed and once in the morning every single day, and then one day I suffer a heart attack, I must bear the consequences of my decision. It is not the government’s responsibility to take care of me. I made the choice to eat poorly, and the burden falls into my lap.
No reasonable person would partake in the food and drink choices I have just described. But the point is clear. In a free society, I should be able to make my own decisions and endure the consequences of those decisions. That is liberty.
Our founders warned of a society where government cares for its citizens from the cradle to the grave. The minute government becomes our caretaker, we give up our freedom and we will never get it back. Government need not tie our shoes or blow our noses for us. Government’s function is simple – to protect the rights endowed on us by our creator.
A government that babies its citizens exploits personal choice and becomes the permanent nanny. Unlike politicians such as Bloomberg and others who shall remain nameless, I have faith in the American people to make decision for themselves. These politicians see the American people as ignorant and too dumb to get out of their own way. They think that their judgment and vision is superior to others.
The nanny state sees itself as a savior in the form of government. I take the opposite view. It is government that needs saving – salvation from statism. To put it simply, the nanny states trust government. I trust the people.
Government today is like overgrown bushes needing to be trimmed back. If America is to avoid the ever-growing presence of a nanny state government, then it is time to take a weed whacker, hedge trimmer or good old fashioned scissors and cut back the unkempt shrubbery that has become government.
Phil Boynton is a junior political science major and considers himself a common-sense minded conservative.