Costly government nannies: The mad rush to protect us from ourselves

Published 16 years ago -  - 16y ago 6

Is it really beneficial for government to try to protect us from every eventuality? The do-gooders seem to think so. It is difficult to think of an activity or product that is not considered to be dangerous to our health and welfare, and laws, both local and national, are continually being proposed or enacted. Is it really possible to make the world perfectly safe? And do laws and regulations really accomplish any worthwhile purpose?

My contention is that no matter how careful we are or how many restrictive laws are enacted, that every accident or illness cannot be prevented. The mad rush to protect us from ourselves has the two disadvantages of costing an amazing amount of money and eroding what few freedoms we have left. This mad preoccupation with health and safety has made us into a nation of timid, trembling souls, with our fear of any activity almost becoming a religion. Another segment of the society feels that all the safety devices will protect them from every danger, thereby abandoning all caution in pursuing their pleasures because the nanny-state has made all activities safe.

How far should government go in protecting us against ourselves? Since it is a pretty well established fact that obesity is a major cause of diabetes and heart trouble, do we label all foods that are high in fat & cholesterol with a notice that eating these foods may cause diabetes, heart problems and early death? Or do we put heavy taxes on these foods to prevent their ingestion? Or maybe we should force everyone to jog a couple of miles per day to keep their weight down? Perhaps we could put a levy against overweight people and charge them so much per pound per month for every pound that they are overweight. According to those who would dictate our lifestyles for our own good, there is no end to their creativity in making sure we are all safe and healthy.

When it comes to manufactured products, do the people with the nanny-state mentality believe that those companies that manufacture these things are deliberately out to kill us all? This would seem a strange way to create loyal customers. After all a dead guy can’t buy things, nor does an invalid who has been injured by an accident have much use for many of the products that are manufactured. Or do they believe that there is a conspiracy between the auto makers and the coffin industry to sell more coffins? The whole situation reeks with the outrage of ignorant do-gooders who have their own little pet peeves and they are out to make everything that they don’t like either illegal or too expensive.

Just being alive entails risk and no matter how much everyone is regulated in their lifestyles and personal habits, the world cannot be made perfectly safe. These policies can, however, prevent the use of many products that are built for the pleasure and edification of people, to be made either too expensive or to cause them to be eliminated entirely. There are many examples of rules and regulations that inhibit the enjoyment of people, cost them unreasonable amounts of money, and provide a lucrative climate for unsavory and greedy lawyers to make a fortune at the expense of society and their clients. It would take several large books to even begin to list them all.

In what appears to be a total lack of logic, we are content to be restricted in many of the things that are considered to be dangerous to our health but permitted, or even encouraged, to do things that may be far more damaging. We are discouraged from eating fatty foods and smoking (admittedly not good for health) but stimulated in activities like risky sexual behavior. It seems to be pretty well documented that married people live longer than singles, yet the single lifestyle with many partners seems to be promoted as a good thing. Laws are made that require air bags in our automobiles and even though some lives may be saved by the devices, it seems that many others are killed because of them.

It has been estimated that the expense of government regulation costs consumers an average of about $4,000 per household per year. Almost every day, government bureaucrats come up with some kind of new danger and are eager to pass regulations to cure the problem. The plain fact is that life does present many dangers and all the regulation in the world cannot remedy this. The best that we can really do is to be a bit prudent in our activities and try to avoid those situations in which we think we might be endangered, and when using any kind of tool to recognize that it is possible to get injured, and act accordingly. By forcing the safety features of various devices it only encourages a feeling of absolute security by people and makes them more careless. A case in point might be the development of studded snow tires and all-wheel drive vehicles. I know many people who think that this makes them perfectly safe from accidents and drive like maniacs, abandoning sensible precautions that would normally be used in driving on ice or snow.

Common sense dictates that driving an automobile or flying in an airplane may present some danger, yet I don’t think that most of us would want to give up these activities. And surely skiing, snowmobiling, bicycle riding, bungee-jumping, mountain climbing and motorcycling are all dangerous activities but should these actions be outlawed? These people who would protect us against every possible danger seem to be quite selective. They don’t mention the link between breast cancer and abortions, nor do they emphasize the dangers of promiscuity. The risks of smoking tobacco are overblown but the dangers of the homosexual lifestyle are understated.

Those who promote all these health and safety regulations seem to have pet peeves, like being against the manufacturing of items that enhance the pleasure of life for us all, and because they are built by those greedy old capitalists, they are fair game for massive regulation. This kind of thinking not only makes people somewhat paranoid but it encourages irresponsibility in our lives when we can blame others for our own carelessness. Why can we not take responsibility for our own health and well-being and get the Big Brother, Nanny State Bureaucrats out of our lives and let them do something constructive like going to work and being productive. Not only do we have to pay these folks to rule us, they are a drag on society and makes life less fulfilling for us all.

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