The modern, Welfare State is sometimes referred to by its critics as the “Nanny State”. The term “nanny” can, of course, refer to either a hired nanny who serves as a substitute for the mother too busy for work so mundane as raising children, or it can also refer to one’s grandmother. In either case, we all understand what the roll of a nanny is, ie…to force us to do unpleasant things that left to our own devices we would not bother to do, like eat our vegetables, brush our teeth, do our homework, take out the trash, pick our clothes up off the floor, make our beds etc..
Renowned British-born and seldom watched talk show host Piers Morgan recently objected to the nanny State criticism, saying that he thought most people needed a little nanny-ing every once in a while, so why shouldn’t the State provide it? Now, let’s think this concept through.
Do I ever need “ nanny-ing” ? The honest answer is, yes. Nowadays, I get a little nanny-ing from my wife now and then, since she is the one most likely trying to get me to do stuff that’s good for me. She might shoot me a nasty look when I pick up that 7th cookie from the plate thirty minutes before dinner and say something like, “What, are you like in fifth grade?! Stop eating those cookies before dinner! It will ruin your appetite.” I drop the cookie and slink away before she realizes that I have two more in my pocket. But, now, let’s examine how this example of nanny-ing is different from government provided Nanny-ing.
Pam’s nanny-ing costs me nothing, except temporary embarrassment. Government Nanny-ing costs all of us plenty. Government would seek to prevent me from eating seven cookies and pilfering another two by limiting the amount of raw sugar my wife is allowed to purchase at the grocery store, which in turn drives up the cost of sugar, creates a black market for cookies and turns the Cookie-Monster into public enemy number one, severely crushing Sesame Street’s ratings resulting in ever higher government subsidies for Public television. It’s the Iron-Clad law of unintended consequesnces.
Mayor Bloomberg sees New Yorkers with huge beer bellies everywhere he looks, so in his roll as Nanny-In-Chief decides to arbitrarily reduce the size of fountain drinks sold within the city. So now, Joe the Plumber can’t get his Big-Gulp, so in frustration, goes to his local bar instead where there are no intake restrictions, which results in some of the shoddiest plumbing work seen in New York since the great toilet scandal of 1916, increased alcoholism in the Plumbers Union resulting in a new government study into why Plumbers drink so much.
The lesson should be clear, even for third rate British television personalities. Although nanny-ing may be a minor annoyance in your own home, it doesn’t result in higher taxes for your neighbors, which makes it profoundly more desirable than the government kind.