Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nanny State

Radley Balko notes the left-of-center nanny state criticism from the New York Times' Timothy Egan, but as Balko notes the comments are disappointing. Egan defends recycling while only criticizing recycling inspectors who literally inspect your garbage, yet the do-gooders are still up in arms.

One commenter accuses Egan of opposing abortion rights, because, apparently, opposing fast food bans and garbage inspectors must mean you oppose abortion rights.

Another commenter questions why anyone would eat junk food, while opining that "This world holds no future for libertarians." What's scary is that last part just might be true.

Then there's this gem:

The difference between rules about sex and liquor consumption and the rules about garbage and smoking lies in the following: giant landfills of garbage and smoking affect the health of everyone around far more than say, premarital sex or 18 year old college students drinking beer.

Because recycling is a health issue? And sex and alcohol don't have health consequences? I suppose in liberal nanny world, the answers are yes, and no.

A bit further down, another commenter showcases the absolutist morality of the do-gooders.

It does seem overbearing all these rules that our lawmakers keep passing. However, I believe government in many of the instances mentioned above provide a crucial role in changing peoples behavior. Portland in my opinion is a fairly progressive city where recycling and other civic goodness was already commonplace. However in the rest of the country we aren’t as fortunate to have progressive thinkers. Sometimes a rule or regulation teaches people how easy compliance can be. Can you imagine the physical and mental condition of our youth if McDonald’s was granted the contract from the US Department of Education for providing school meals across the country? Ouch.

Sometimes a rule or regulation teaches people how easy compliance can be? Not really, seeing as without a rule or regulation, there's no nothing to comply with. And just look at the language here- "the government can play a crucial role in changing people's behavior" - it reflects a overwhelming desire to make people do the right thing and make the right decisions. There's a tremendous arrogance in "knowing" how other people should live their lives and conduct themselves, particularly when coming from those on the left who frown on the right's efforts to enforce sexual moral standards.

And finally, I'll end with this one, basically saying that poor people are too stupid to make the right eating decisions.

I live in the South Bronx and witness on a daily basis some of the worst eating habits imaginable. FAST FATTY PROCESSED FOOD as a families main meals. Bad food pushed by misleading advertising. Even the fast giants are seeing the light and are slowly changing their menus. The effort to inform people at the point of purchase just might help many people live healthier lives. Not so bad for a very minor effort.

OK, one more.

Libertarianism is NOT so tedious. The problem is that libertarians choose the wrong battles. I don’t think John Locke would recognize a natural right to either plastic bags in the grocery stores, which seems to really get Egan’s goat, or to having junk food in public schools (incidentally, I agree with Elsie that the potential health benefits of banning junk food far outweigh the drawbacks . . . wait, there aren’t ANY drawbacks to banning junk food in the schools).

But I think Egan’s just picking on what’s common; he’d find a better target in Flint, Michigan. Up until the ACLU threatened the city with a lawsuit, police officers were ticketing people for sagging their pants. That’s right, Flint made it illegal to wear your pants low on the hips. Now that’s Nanny Nation.

Got it? Being a libertarian means thinking low-riding pants laws and plastic bag bans are stupid. Being a liberal means thinking the plastic bag bans are OK and that we libertarians shouldn't worry about them because it's just not that big of a deal. But if it's not that big of the deal, why id the government passing a law on it in the first place.


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