Sometimes a kid needs a nanny

[Editor’s Note:  Our newest editor, Hari Koh-Vert, has just posted an interesting and stirring response to a comment accusing him of “nanny-statism” in his maiden post “Uncle Sam Shouldn’t Be A Sugar Daddy.”  We are therefore elevating the comment to a full post status below.]

When does the action of responsible government cross the line between legitimate concern and “nanny-statism?”  When it invades some arbitrary boundary that you personally find offensive?

Millions of children are entering their formative years with the handicap of obesity.  Many of these children will suffer from stunted economic and social opportunity as a result.  Many will fall prey to diabetes, heart , liver and kidney disease and other collateral damage.  None of them can defend themselves.  Should not the “state” have some eye towards their interests?

While we may smugly assert that adults should be free to indulge in any behavior that does not affect the lives of others, where do we draw this line as well?  Yes, many have cited the increased common costs of health care as a reason to “interfere” in self-destructive behavior, but even casting that aside — do we stand idly by as someone attempts to throw themselves off a cliff?  Does it matter whether suicide is swift or slow?

As for black markets, they will always arise whenever something in demand is proscribed.  Does that really make it acceptable to continue to assent through our silence to the indefensible?

Big tobacco preserved the “right” of smokers to kill themselves.  Big sugar is fighting to preserve the “right” of the ignorant and/or self-destructive to poison themselves.  Big oil fights to preserve the illusion of “cheap” energy.  Big pharma fights to maintain their intellectual property rights at the expense of lives.  So it goes.  But does that mean we have to accept it?  Can anything besides the “state” be powerful enough to combat these things?

Only through uniting and shouting “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more!” can we defend ourselves from the real inroads on our lives, liberty and our pursuit of happiness — and we call that kind of a union, among other things, the United States of America.  Yes, it’s statism, but of the most noble and worthwhile stripe.   And, by the way — since when did nannies get such a bad reputation?  Eat your spinach.