Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nanny State Run Amok

The Progressive vision of the government is a powerful but benevolent entity that mediates nearly every aspect of life in order to assure optimum outcomes. The desire on the left to "do something" often results in legislation or regulations that are meant to address a problem. Often the more pressing the problem appears the less likely the response will be meaningful. The news is full of examples of this on all levels. The result of this is a nanny state that treats its citizens as if they were small children.

The current proposals for gun legislation top the list. None of the most common proposals would have stopped any of the recent mass-shootings. All of the shooters would have passed a background check so expanding the checks to include private sales simply penalizes law-abiding citizens for no good reason.

The efforts to outlaw "assault weapons" goes beyond silly. The AR-15 is the country's most popular gun but it is seldom used for murders. Lawmakers might as well propose a ban on "assault clubs" (baseball bats) since they are used in more murders. This is the nanny state at its "best". A group arbitrarily decided that something might be misused therefore it must be banned. The fact that millions of these guns are used peacefully and regularly for target shooting is irrelevant. The argument that "no one needs one of these assault weapons" trumps everything. Similar logic is advanced to outlaw the most common style pistol.

The extreme version of this logic has been showing up nationwide in a series of incidents where small children are punished for even thinking about guns. Students of one class were offered counseling after a child brandished a gun-shaped breakfast pastry.

The nanny state swings into high gear on obesity. Everyone is now treated as a potential fatty who has to be protected from bad food choices. For decades, school lunches were prepared with the idea of making sure that all children got at least one good meal per day. Now, as a result of the First Lady's fitness initiative, the top goal is preventing obesity. The new meals go a long way in this direction since most students find them inedible.

Ironically, last week the First Lady announces that she does not weigh her children or talk about weight with them. She wants them to be comfortable in whatever bodies they inhabit. The rest of the country's children will continue to be judged against an arbitrary standard.

Then there is New York City where the citizens have to be protected from the dangers of soft drinks. When he struck down this regulation the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court noted that it was unevenly applied. Many high-calorie drinks were allowed including alcoholic ones. Many studies indicate that artificial sweetener is more to blame than sugar but that was also given a pass.

Another example of the nanny state in action is the decree that everyone must be insured. The real problem facing the country is the rising cost of health care. Obamacare will make that worse by increasing demand and by taxing medical equipment.

Obamacare came about originally because the President wanted something important for his legacy. It was quickly decided that real health care reform would be too difficult but that a law that forced 20-30 million of uninsured to purchase insurance would be significant.

Since this is the government, satisfying the insurance requirement will not be easy. The application form was just released. It is 15 pages with 21 pages of instructions.

Given a chance, the Progressives want to control how much money you make and how you move around. They strongly prefer limited range electric cars and high-speed trains to regular cars and airplanes.

Because they are doing things for our own good, the Progressives see themselves as having the moral high ground. If results don't meet expectations then it means that a new round of regulations is in order. And it is always better to try to solve problems by expanding government.

No comments: