Nanny Staters Should Mind Their Own Business

Nanny State

In the midst of the debates about banning firearms with certain features, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed attempt to ban New Yorkers from drinking soft drinks he felt were too large, and the debate over whether or not same sex couples should have the ability to enter into a legal contract to have the same legal rights and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples, a thought occurred to me: “Gee there are a lot of people out there who just want to ban things!”

Why is this impulse so prevalent in our society? It seems that nearly everyone wants to be free to live their lives as they see fit. I haven’t met too many people who favor any notion of limiting their freedom because elected officials passed a law or majority of fellow citizens took a vote. When it comes to one’s own personal liberties, everyone is a libertarian! Consider that the Gadsen flag underneath the coiled rattlesnake reads: “Don’t Tread on Me.”

But far too many of these same people who jealously defend their own liberties are more than eager to limit someone else’s when that someone else engages in an activity that, for whatever reason, offends them. No, when it comes to other people, these people who don’t want their liberties tread on are not libertarian but majoritarian (i.e. political might makes right). chronicles this phenomenon in a feature they call “Nanny of the Month.” As their intro goes: “Whether you love it, hate it, or never thought about it, chances are some nanny wants to ban it.” In this latest installment, March 2013, the “winner” comes from Shelton, WA were the townsfolk are up in arms about the scourge of baristas in bikinis. As often is the case, the locals believe that they ought to have the ability to impose their morals on private business under a theory they call “community standards.” Across the country this rationale has been used to impose everything from smoking bans in bars and restaurants, police pay-per-view “obscenity” standards for hotels and video stores, the minimum distance a medical marijuana dispensary must be from schools and parks, blue laws which ban the sale of alcohol on Sundays, and etc.

Apparently there are many people out there that have an appetite for banning things. With this in mind, over the last several weeks I have been asking myself the question: what would I ban if I could?

My conclusion: there’s not really anything I can think of that isn’t currently banned that I would ban…at least not concerning private individuals. The only people I determined I would like to limit work for government. A few examples: no unions for government workers (at any level), term limits (10 terms for Representatives, 3 for senators, and a single 6 year term for POTUS), a 5 year ban for former elected officials to participate in lobbying, and periodic audits of the Federal Reserve (and here is one more ban I would be happy to drink to). Aside from these, I cannot quite wrap my head around the desire to impose limits on my neighbors. What business is it of mine anyway?

There was a time in this country when people preferred not to put their noses in other people’s business. In fact, the Continental Dollar minted in 1776 did not include the words “In God We Trust” but “Mind Your Business” (and on the reverse side there was another phrase “We Are One” to reinforce the idea of unity among the 13 colonies as described in the Declaration of Independence).

Mind your business. What a nice, simple, and American concept! Why can’t this be the motto for our country once again? And as freedom loving individuals, rather than simply saying “Don’t Tread on Me” what we should really be saying is “Don’t Tread on Anyone.” This is the key to rolling back the nanny state and keeping your neighbors from limiting your freedom.

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