Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for May 14th, 2010
Nanny state. I hear that term a lot lately. Pass a seat-belt law that saves thousands of lives each year; Nanny State. Require large restaurants to list calorie counts for their meals: Nanny State. Consider writing a law requiring that food manufacturers reduce salt in their products: Nanny State. Make it illegal to smoke in public buildings: Nanny State. Recently, some Congresspeople suggested passing a “sugar tax” to help curb a national epidemic of obesity. The sugar/corn lobby got busy and soon all we heard was: Nanny State.
Put into place tough environmental laws that hold oil companies to account for drilling disasters: Nanny State. Pass tough new banking regulations that may be able to curb the greedy Wall Street Babies and keep them from wrecking the economy: Nanny State. Suggest that our schools change the way we feed our children and remove sugary drinks from their hallowed halls because our grotesquely overweight kids are waddling straight into diabetes and heart trouble before they’re even in high school: Nanny State.
In a recent television “reality show,” British Chef Jamie Oliver arrived in Huntington, West Virginia, a town deemed the most overweight and unhealthiest in the nation, to start a “food revolution,” starting with the community’s schools. You’d think that such a “revolution” would be a no-brainer – feed school children tasty, healthful lunches. But it was as if he had breezed into town and suggested feeding the kids strychnine. Even though the schools could obtain fresh food, government subsidies, outdated “nutrition” rules and federal school lunch program subsidies made crappy, fat-and-sugar-laden processed foods much cheaper and easier to use, so the school officials were faced with a dilemma: raise school taxes to pay for decent food, or continue feeding kids government subsidized crap.
Well, taxpayers weren’t about to vote for slightly higher taxes to give children delicious healthy school breakfasts and lunches, so he had to get private funding (for a public school program) and it was no surprise that Jamie’s healthy food program soon slid back to the “normal” diet that had put the whole community on the CDC’s radar as “unhealthiest in the nation” in the first place. And when the private funding for this project runs out? Government subsidized highly processed fat-laden chicken “nuggets” will be back on the menu.
And so it goes. Conservatives can cry “Nanny State” and declare that it’s a parent’s responsibility to take care of these sorts of problems, but they don’t realize that we’re no longer a nation of Adult Parents. We’ve also become a Baby Parent Nation. Why else would somebody feel the need to write a law making it illegal to sell violent kill-rape-torture video games to minors? Because Baby Parents don’t know the word No, as in “No. You’re thirteen and you’re not buying that game.”
So here we are, a nation of infants begetting more infants and infants always beget Nannies.
If we were a nation of Adults, we’d have been able to figure out, for example, what agribusiness was up to – lobbying for and getting enough taxpayer financed farm subsidies to create Crap Food Nation, leading to Overweight Nation waddling into Medical Crisis Nation followed by Bankrupt Nation. Had we been an Adult Nation, that boondoggle would have been stopped instantly and reversed with tax subsidies for fresh, non-processed farm commodities and high taxes on sugar and fat, so subsidized fresh unprocessed fruits and vegetables would cost pennies while a can of soda or packaged processed foods would cost dollars.
If we were Adult Nation, we would have known that the Wall Street Babies cannot be trusted around money. Not their own, not ours, no money. That’s like leaving an infant in a room full of loaded guns. Adult Nation would have put into place and vigorously monitored all sorts of alarm bells to keep those Babies and ourselves safe.
But, we’re a nation of Babies, so we elect even bigger babies and put them in charge of our government. The result is Disaster Nation with sensible fixes being decried as a Nanny State by a Baby Nation that doesn’t want anything fixed because that might cut down on the candy allotment and lead to having spinach appear on our plates.
To Baby Nation, that would be a fate worse than death.