When we were small children, our parents provided for us, fed us, told us what to do, and kept us safe from ourselves by yelling at us if we did something which may have led to injury. If we did something we had been told not to do, we got punished in some manner. For us nearing middle age, it was probably a spanking. For the slightly younger readers, it might have been a “time out.” There were certain things which our parents didn’t think we were ready to handle, so they were made “off-limits.” Gen X-ers and Y-ers were probably forced to wear helmets and pads when they rode their bikes so they wouldn’t hurt themselves during the inevitable fall. Playgrounds were filled with rubber, to prevent skinned knees, and “monkeybars” were all but banned, because they were “too dangerous.”
Everyone felt safe and protected, secure in the knowledge that someone loved them, cared for them, and protected them. In other words, life could be carefree and worry-free, because parents took care of those things.
Fast forward to adulthood: People get out on their own after leaving their parents’ house, and find out that there are all sorts of things to worry about that they never even seriously considered before, like paying bills and having enough left over with which to eat. In addition, they have all the usual choices about every single aspect of adult life, and they are unprepared, or unwilling to take this responsibility for their life. It was much more comfortable and secure having a parent to make all of these decisions. They don’t WANT the choices. So, they find someone to take the “choice” out of every decision of day to day life, and the logical group to remove choices is the government. In this quest, they can almost always find some special interest group who would profit by expanded governmental powers, so even in this endeavor they don’t have to go to a lot of trouble beyond asking someone to help them.
A good example of this is the issue of seat belt laws. When you are a child, your parents insist that you always wear you seat belt when in a car, and you are left with no choice in the matter. If you don’t put it on, you get yelled at, grounded, refused permission to use the car, or whatever punishment you parents mete out. Suddenly, as an adult, you find yourself faced with the dreadful and weighty decision of whether or not to wear a seat belt. So, you find a group who would profit from a law which would require seat belt usage, and they get laws passed, by the typical means that special interest and lobby groups use, so that there is no longer a choice.
Let me say that I am not ranting about using seat belts. I am a firm believer that seat belts can save lives and prevent some injuries. My own life was probably saved on one occasion by a seat belt. But, I believe that legislating their use is beyond the scope of legitimate government, and falls more properly under the heading of “common sense” and “good decision-making skills instilled by parental upbringing.” It is government forcing people to do something “for their own good,” and is but one example of government acting like a parent. How did that particular law come about? Insurance companies! When someone is in a car accident, they are more likely to be injured, or more seriously injured if are not wearing a seat belt, therefore, insurance companies would have to pay more money for medical bills. The insurance companies looked for a way to get around this they found a group of citizens who wanted a parent to look out for them to ask the government to force them to do what they should be doing anyway. The insurance lobby then throws a lot of money toward legislators, and the next thing you know, a law is born.
Along the same lines, there are unfortunately a lot of citizens who don’t want to be exposed to anything which makes them uncomfortable. They then ask the government to restrict what others can say or do (or think!), so they won’t have to be exposed to ideas or situations which they want to avoid. Is it because they don’t want to be exposed to anything with which they disagree, or is it because they fear that if they are exposed to new ideas they may have to actually think for themselves with nobody to tell them what their opinion is? I don’t know, but the heart of the matter is that they must not trust themselves to make decisions, therefore, they don’t trust anyone else. They want a parent to not only tell them what to think, but also to tell everyone else what to think so they can avoid having to critically examine new ideas.
This could be the most insidious result of the Nanny State. People come to rely on it for not only keeping them safe and forcing them to do what they should to begin with, but they also come to rely on the state to tell them what to think. This has resulted in the state being able to foist its intentions upon the citizens, and the citizens assume that those are the intentions that they, the citizens, desire. Is it possible that a citizen in New York REALLY cares whether a citizen in Montana owns a black military-style rifle? I hardly think so. Is a citizen REALLY offended that someone in Texas defended themselves against a rapist or murderer by drawing their own handgun? I suggest that anyone who does not want a woman to defend herself from a rapist is the worst sort of sexist, but more than that, anyone who is offended that someone can defend themselves from physical attack wants us all held hostage by the fact that any of us, at any time, could become the victim of a violent criminal, with our only recourse being to ask the government to “help” us. It’s the only way that the state can create a population of mewling, subservient citizens. In other words, a population of people who act like small children in need of parenting.