Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nannies with Guns and Badges

Paul Jacobs has a great piece that goes after the countless Nannies with Badges and Guns that seem to dot the landscape today, taking our freedoms and our liberties on a daily basis, and making everything harder than it needs to be. It is fine for people to educate us about various hazards to our health and well being. But it is up to each adult to evaluate these various messages and determine for themselves whether to act on them or not. Unfortunately, it is in the nature of nannies that simply warning us is never enough. First they warn, and when the whole world ignores their warnings, then they get government to take action to force us. And so, they become nannies with guns and badges.

The seat belt laws, which have become ubiquitous are a case in point. The first car our family had that had seat belts installed was a 1965 Ford Country Squire station wagon. But the actual use of the seat belts was entirely up to each individual. There were public service advertisements extolling the virtues of seat belts, but no one could give you a ticket for failing to wear a seat belt. Next came laws requiring us to wear them, but we were assured that you couldn't be stopped only for failure to wear your seat belt. You would have to be stopped for a more serious offence like speeding or reckless driving. Finally, when not enough people who otherwise drove responsibly did not routinely wear a seat belt, they began using check points, stopping everyone to check for seat belt use.

Notice the steady squeeze of the iron fist. First seat belts are a good idea. Then they are mandated in cars, but not required for use. Then they are mandated for use, but you can't be ticketed for not using them, and finally, the police state emerges.  It used to be considered Unconstitutional to have check points at which everyone is stopped and checked.  That was considered the hallmark of the jack booted thugs of Fascist and Communist states.  But now it has been ruled perfectly fine, as long as everyone is equally inconvenienced.

A second example comes from the ironically misnamed Center for Science in the Public Interest  It has been at the center of food nannyism for decades, constantly warning us that anything the least bit tasty is bad for us.  They have been pushing low salt, eating your vegetables, (without sauces or dressings mind you) and the notion that saturated fats will kill you despite the lack of evidence in some cases.  Jacob decries the change in philosophy from saving us from the other to saving the fat people from themselves.  He notes:

And it’s not as if the government can be trusted to tell us what’s right.

After years of federal bureaucracies pushing corn and starchy foods, subsidizing agribiz by the billions; after our Agriculture Department helped develop and promote high fructose corn syrup as a cheap refined-sugar substitute; and after pushing for a generation the unscientific, ideologically hyper-puritan nonsense that “eating fat makes us fat” — effectively pushing the low-fat obsession throughout the commercial food chain, replacing fats with sugars — I’m less than interested in politicians now stepping in to save us “from ourselves.”
But of course, that is exactly what they are going to do. The reasoning goes like this: In the past, scientist may have gotten some things wrong, but now they know and we are here to explain it to you uneducated rubes.  Until we are prepared to tell the nannies with guns and badges to get off our backs, they will continue to plague us.

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