Nanny State draws out supporters, detractors


To fully understand the threat of the Nanny State to our rights as individuals and parents, you have to hear out its champions.

Two weeks ago, I pointed out how the incremental progress of the Nanny State — in which the government assumes ever more control of child rearing, treating all parents as children and child abuse suspects in the process — inevitably will lead to harsher restrictions in the future. I asked readers for feedback and predictions on where the Nanny State is headed.

In the process, I got an earful from people who are more than happy to give up your rights to make sure you’re a good parent.

Robert Kelley writes: “I for one do not believe that the right to raise your family without any governmental oversight is an absolute one. Our society rightly demands that children be vaccinated, receive medical treatment when needed, be educated to certain standards and so on. Children are not the property of their parents to be used as they please; parents are supposed to be the guardians of their minor children, and the state may well wish to oversee their performance in that role.”

Oh my.

Then came the email from Elizabeth Hershkovitz: “I felt sheer elation to read about the Scots pioneering Nanny State parenting. It would behoove you to speak with a guardian ad litem or Child Protective Services (or even a few teachers) to hear all the horror stories. While I don’t want the government in my bedroom or business, the concept of providing every child an advocate gladdens my heart. I am willing to sacrifice privacy to government intrusion for the greater good.

“It is my fervent belief that if we could resolve bad parenting, all of our other societal problems would markedly diminish. Bring it on.”

So what kind of new laws can we expect when Kelley and Hershkovitz get their wish?

I received plenty of humorous and over-the-top responses from readers, grounded in current events. But the most popular, reasoned answer was a logical response to the current policy climate. A lot of people see attacks on home schooling leading to eventual state bans, which are common in Europe.

“Home schooling is about the only way parents can protect their children from pop culture and nanny-state propaganda,” writes M.J. Wright. “Home-schoolers are becoming a thorn in the sides of the ‘establishment’ (maybe of both the Democrat and Republican establishments). I know many home-schoolers, and the vast majority of them are bright, confident, accomplished, independent and deep thinkers.”

Mike Maze agrees.

“The left-wingers will gradually do away with home schooling by making required courses more and more difficult to teach at home and demanding test results that are more and more difficult to achieve. Our little ones can’t be properly indoctrinated by learning acceptable subjects at home,” he wrote.

But pushing students out of the home for a more structured education won’t be enough. Expect a reduction in the compulsory school age, as well.

Brian Reilly predicts: “What we call day care or preschool for the 2-years-and-up set will be mandatory, and tightly regulated by the state as a virtual monopoly. Except for rich people, of course — and the politically connected.”

John Hedwall envisions child safety laws run amok: “Children riding school buses will be required to wear a helmet.”

Will O’Toole says those same safety concerns eventually will lead to the abolishment of tackle football at the high school level. And once tackle football is removed from high schools, it will quickly die at the college and professional levels, too.

And don’t forget about food. Dan Anderson writes: “Parents will have to plan menus for their families in advance and submit them online to a Federal Nutrition Czar. Those deemed to be in violation of Federal Food Acceptability Standards will be cited for contempt. Fruits and vegetables not organically grown, or cuts of meat from livestock which are not (a) free-range (b) housed in air-conditioned quarters with thermostats under Department of Agriculture inspection and control (c) not manually massaged for circulatory stimulation and (d) not given sufficient space for appropriate social interchange and mobility will be subject to regulatory inspection and follow-up visits to ensure compliance.”

That’s funny. But scary. And definitely not too outrageous considering how eager some of our politicians are to run our lives — and raise our children — for us.

Next week: More reader thoughts on the growth of the Nanny State.

Glenn Cook (gcook@reviewjournal.com) is the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s senior editorial writer. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenn_CookNV. Resuming July 28, listen to him Mondays at 4 p.m. on “Live and Local with Kevin Wall” on KXNT News Radio, 100.5 FM, 840 AM.