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Are you a ward of the Nanny State? From Obamacare to smoking bans: How the government tries to control us

Are you a ward of the Nanny State? From Obamacare to smoking bans: How the government tries to control us

Wayne Hoffman
May 18, 2010

Increasingly, and in ways big and small, the government is treating us like children.

What we seem to be hearing from some (not all) of our elected leaders is that we’re not smart enough to make our own decisions. Like children, we need to be coddled and controlled, directed and managed.

Enter the government, the Nanny State, which then passes legislation to compel us to perform in a certain way, for our own good. And, says the Nanny Government, if we don’t do what we’re told, we will be punished, be it with a penalty or citation.

I’ve screamed and yelled enough about Obamacare, a modern marvel of government nannyism. Call me a defiant child, but I’m not going to listen to what the government says as it tramples all over the Constitution and tries to make people buy health insurance they don’t want. I’ve dropped my health insurance coverage in protest, and I hope others will, too.

The need to resist government efforts to dictate the terms of our freedom is now as great as it ever has been. Government health insurance mandates are a huge affront to liberty. The effort to ban smoking in cities across Idaho is another.

This issue, dormant from the public scene for some months, has reappeared in Idaho Falls. Supporters of citywide smoking regulations presented their proposal to the City Council last week. The proposal would ban smoking in bars and businesses with five or fewer employees. (On a somewhat related note, last month, Idaho State University announced that it is exploring a proposal to ban smoking on campus, the way Boise State University did last year).

The supporters of the anti-smoking ordinance have been shopping it around to cities across the state, hoping to get local government leaders to buy into the notion that it is their job to protect people from themselves — people who are foolish enough to buy a beer in a bar where smoking is allowed, or take a job in such an establishment. So the objective is to tell business owners that they are not allowed to control and decide what goes on in their own establishments.

The folks behind this anti-private property measure claim that what they’re doing is altruistic and is not a big-government intrusion on people’s lives. The truth is, a smoking ban has vestiges that make it eerily similar to Obamacare, in which the federal government tells people to buy health insurance or face the penalties. In the smoking case, the local government is ordering people and businesses to refrain from smoking or face penalties.

In both cases, rational adults are able to make clear choices on their own without the government getting involved. In both cases, the government assumes these rational adults will make the wrong choice, and therefore the government’s benevolent intervention is necessary.

In both cases, our singular obligation is to obey the government and remain swaddled in its righteous embrace. That is not how free people live their lives.

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