Nanny State goes global

“Nanny State” laws are popping up with increasing frequency as big-government advocates continue to be elected to offices from the city council to the White House.  What many Americans may not realize is the extent to which such invasive and pervasive government actions are spreading around the world, creating a “Nanny World.”

As usual, California, with its many ultra-liberal communities, is leading the way here in America.  Santa Clara County recently voted to outlaw the sale of McDonald’s “Happy Meal” toys and a host of other novelties (including coupons from which a patron might download a song) provided by restaurants as a bonus for customers who purchase certain drinks or food items.  As bizarre as is this most recent ban, if some of that county’s residents have their way, it will be followed by many more.  One resident of Sacramento, for example, reportedly voiced support for the recently-passed measure because even McDonald’s “190-calorie salad dressing and mass-produced beef scare her”; New York’s Mayor Bloomberg would be proud of her.

The Global War Against Calories has reached all the way to the Congress and the White House.  First Lady Michelle Obama now regularly employs her bully pulpit to rail against obesity.  Of course, criticizing obesity is not itself inappropriate; far too many Americans of all ages are too fat.  However, when folks in Washington – including recently the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission — start issuing thinly-veiled warnings to food companies that they may be subpoenaed and forced to explain why their packaging is too enticing, or why they do not list nutrition information more prominently, we’ve moved beyond simple, personal encouragement to Big Brother-ism.

A bi-partisan reauthorization of the “Child Nutrition Act” now working its way through the Congress, would dramatically increase the reach of the federal government to dictate with great specificity what types of meals, snacks, and beverages could be sold in, or distributed by, every public school in the country.  You can bet a Twinkie or a Baby Ruth will not remain among the sanctioned foods.

While nothing that happens at the University of California at Berkeley would surprise any observer of big government, the latest move by its administration might cause at least a double take.  The university is asking incoming students to give the school a sample of their DNA when they register.  This measure will enable the huge state-run school to amass a database of the most personal information imaginable about its students and eventual alumni. In typical Berkeley-speak, in a local television interview a genetics professor said he hopes this program “will excite students to be more hands-on with their college experience.”

At the Department of State, Foreign Service nannies regularly issue warnings of all sorts to American tourists and business people, urging them to beware of every imaginable danger lurking in every nook and cranny around the globe.  Such warnings caution against bad drivers and pickpockets virtually everywhere, as well as eating in restaurants in certain countries.  The message seems to be that Americans should stay home because foreign travel is just too scary.

Not to be outdone by their civilian counterparts in Berkeley, Sacramento and Washington, DC, America’s generals are busy transforming our military personnel into ambassadors of wellness.  Already, tobacco and alcohol are on the road to prohibition in the armed forces; and “obesity” has been tabbed a major “threat to national security.”  In perhaps the most bizarre example of how far the feel-good nanny-ism has pervaded our military operating abroad, the command organization for all US and other nations’ forces in Afghanistan, is seriously considering issuing a medal for troops who refrain from using lethal force!

What’s next, a medal for soldiers who stop smoking, swear off alcohol, quit cussing, or lose 10 pounds?  And what might such a medal look like?  I suspect it would be cast of lightweight tin in the shape of a pansy.

61 comments Add your comment


May 25th, 2010
6:54 am

First they taxed the smokers, but I didn’t speak out because I was not a smoker.
Then they taxed the beer drinkers, but I didn’t speak out because I was not a beer drinker,
Then they taxed the drinkers of hard liquor, but I didn’t speak out because I was not an imbiber
Then they taxed the twinkies, but I was a health nut so I didn’t speak out
Now they want to tax CO2, but no one will speak out for the breathers, because there is no money left!


May 25th, 2010
9:34 am

So you had to go to California to find an example? No mention of the Georgia Sunday no alcohol laws?


May 25th, 2010
11:02 am

Many years ago I was a member of the NRA. I quit because they kept dunning me several times a year. Their message then, as it is now, the government was going to take away your guns. It didn’t matter whether the Democrats or the Republicans were in the majority. Today, many people have gone out and purchased guns and ammo because of the same threat the NRA keeps spouting (and, I am sure, they are continuously dunning their members with this line … they need your $$$ more than ever to pay their executive’s salary). So I ask you: just who (be specific please) is it that is going to take away your guns? And when? It was supposed to happen within minutes of Barak Obama taking office. Didn’t happen. Sounds like the “end of times” folks to me – they will keep preaching the same fear based message all the while fattening their bank accounts.


May 25th, 2010
3:47 pm

The UN Small Arms treaty that Hillary and Obama want to go through will absolutely take your guns :)


May 25th, 2010
3:54 pm

Pixie, they won’t take my guns because I don’t own any. Gave them away several years ago. Don’t fear the boogyman anymore.


May 25th, 2010
3:58 pm

It disgusts me that people are so complacent about our Constitution being tap-danced on.


May 26th, 2010
8:52 am

And Pixie, just who are the “people” you speak of? Are they those who disagree with you? If so, isn’t that what makes this country great. Complacency is a far cry from disagreement and honest dialogue. I know from our correspondence in this blog that you and I probably disagree on many things. If we were to be transplanted to Iran or North Korea, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. Have a great day in the land of the free (to think and speak our minds openly).

Walt K

May 27th, 2010
6:51 pm

Don’t you think it’s time we drop that line in the national anthem, you know, the one about this country being the land of the free and home of the brave? We have the largest prison population in the world per capita and undoubtedly a collection of the most dubious and growing collection of petty laws governing every almost every sector of our existence. And brave? A few perhaps, but the majority, better red than dead I’d say.

glenn saunders

May 28th, 2010
7:45 am

dear bob,
same old same old. even i could comment all day about what is wrong. no brainer there. how about a damn solution….. sincerely glenn

Johnathan Higgins

June 7th, 2010
5:20 pm

take a look at the nanny state liberation front on facebook. it has some great articles and arguments about the nanny state:


August 1st, 2010
11:31 pm

I am, by all accounts, a staunch freemaketer but I like to know that McDonalds is accountable to someone and has to prove in writing that they are not poisoning me.