Nanny State has plenty of detractors


My July 6 and July 20 columns on the growth of the Nanny State generated more response than can be published. But it was very encouraging to see so many readers understand the threat the growth of government poses to the rights of parents — and the well-being of children.

It never ceases to amaze me that some taxpayers believe central planners can better take care of kids than a family, however it is constructed.

“Yes, the ‘Progressive’ movement in this country (and its correlatives elsewhere) really do think we need an all-powerful, all-encompassing state run by an elite political and technocratic class to save all the lesser people from themselves and from whoever might oppose their all-powerful state,” Harold Seneker writes.

Barbara Hacker-Mazur writes: “From what I see and hear of the generations behind me, the vast majority seem to think that government is the answer to all their problems and that it’s the responsibility of the government to solve them. If it means giving up their rights which, in all probability, most of them don’t know anyway, it seems a price they are willing to pay.”

Thomas Mongan points out that the expansion of the child welfare system claims the poor and the middle class first, because they can’t afford to defend themselves:

“Instead of the state needing to prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that parents are guilty of some wrongdoing with respect to their children, the parents, in effect, must prove that they are not bad parents to get their children back. Because it is almost impossible to prove a negative, and ruinously expensive to do so even if it can be done, parents in effect have no rights and their families can be destroyed at the whim of bureaucrats.

“This is especially true of middle class and poor families who would face financial ruin — loss of their home and savings — to pay the legal fees necessary to litigate a case in court. Because the rich can afford to defend their families, only the families of the middle class and poor are being destroyed.”

Chris Moller believes the growth of the Nanny State will become so outrageous, it will reach a tipping point. “My prediction, for what it’s worth, is that people are going to get tired of being nannied. Just as kids do, they’ll want to grow up. They’ll rebel against Nanny, though the form of that rebellion, and whether or not it includes guns and blood, I couldn’t say. And, just as kids usually do in their teen years, they’re going to start to conclude that mommy/daddy/nanny are incompetent, uncool and way out of touch. The difference will be that those rebelling against Nanny will be right in their conclusions.”

I’ll close this column, and this topic, with some excellent writing from retired judge C. Brett Bode:

“Central government is simply not in the character formation business and never will be, yet its relentless attack on those who are is producing fault lines that threaten the foundation of our nation.

“Whenever a central government assumes the primary responsibility to take care of a child (or an adult), parents, families, faith communities and voluntary associations tend to withdraw and abdicate their responsibilities. The wider the area of responsibility government assumes for the well-being of citizens, the greater the likelihood of failure; and the more failures, the more dissatisfaction with government; and the more dissatisfaction with government, the greater the pressure upon government to intensify its efforts through expenditure of more money or the exercise of more force.

“The State should never be expected to solve all the problems of life for its citizens. An important truth has been recognized since the founding of our nation: The ‘necessary’ work of government, unchecked, always expands, thereby necessitating control over more and more choices and more and more resources, until the state controls all choices and resources. The cost of transferring responsibility to government is transference of control to the state. Total dependency upon government and total control by the state is totalitarianism, the antithesis of individual liberty.

“Citizen-parents have a duty to conform to some minimal standard of parenting necessary to perpetuate a free society; but the state must not be permitted to deny a citizen freedom of choice above that minimal standard. Diversity is strength, not weakness. Freedom produces a rich diversity of life choices and results; state supervision and coercion produces a poverty of choices and mediocrity of results.”

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