New York “Nanny” State – By George J. Marlin
In the early 20th Century, British journalist G.K. Chesterton warned that elites, in the name of progress, would attempt to deliver the common man from perceived miseries by imposing on him faddist social bromides. These modern emancipators he predicted would initiate “a new persecution of the common man.”
David Harsanyi, in his fine new book, Nanny State argues that Chesterton’s fears were justified. According to Harsanyi, “a band of do-gooders are subtly and steadily stripping us of our liberties, robbing us of the inalienable right to make our own decisions and turning America into a nation of children.”
New York’s city council is awash with pols devoted to advancing the Nanny State. Instead of devoting their energies to fixing the City’s collapsing infrastructure and failing education system, they prefer promoting legislation designed to protect us from ourselves. Harsanyi lists these bans sought during the city council’s 2006 legislative session: “trans fats, aluminum baseball bats, tobacco purchases by adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty, foie gras, pedicabs in parks, new fast food restaurants in poor neighborhoods, cell phones in upscale restaurants, mail order pharmaceutical plans, candy-favored cigarettes, gas station operators adjusting prices more than once daily, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus operating in Madison Square Garden.”
Nannyism has also spread to Albany. The state legislature’s leading proponent of denying people’s rights to be unhealthy, unselfish and politically incorrect is Assemblyman Felix Ortiz.
Here’s a sampling of the laws Ortiz would like to inflict on New Yorkers:
“a law that would require every car sold in New York to come equipped with an ignition interlock device and mandate motorists to blow into a tube and pass an alcohol breath test before the car would start, then perform the test again every twenty to forty minutes;”
A law to prohibit use of any kind of cell phone in an automobile;
A law that requires credit card users to produce two types of identification;
A law that bans expiration dates on retail gift certificates;
A law that would require nutritional labels on restaurant menus;
A law that orders schools to measure the fat of public school students;
A law that imposes a “fat tax” on junk food.
Ortiz is not Albany’s only Nanny State advocate. Brooklyn Senator Carl Kruger called for a law that would band the use of cell phones, MP3 players and Blackberrys while crossing a New York City street. The Senator complained users of these devices were “tuning out the world around them.”
New York progressives are promoting “Nanny State” laws that will force us to adhere to their vision of a perfect society. They are modern Gnostics who believe they possess exclusive knowledge about reaching perfection in the temporal. They believe only they can establish with scientific precision an environment that will produce perfect harmony among men.
The fact is these progressives are nothing more than the new generation of “grassroot tyrants” who love “mankind” but despise people. And a century ago, Chesterton described the consequences of their progressive policies:
“Progress, in the sense of the progress that has progressed since the sixteenth century, has upon every matter persecuted the Common Man; punished the gambling he enjoys and permitted the gambling he cannot follow … silenced the political quarrels that can be conducted among men and applauded the political stunts and syndicates that can only be conducted by millionaires; encouraged anybody who had anything to say against God, if it was said with a priggish and supercilious accent; but discouraged anybody who had anything to say in favour of Man, in his common relations to manhood and motherhood and the normal appetites of nature. Progress has been merely the persecution of the Common Man.”