The Slow Advance Of The Nanny State

I’m convinced that one of the reasons that liberty is always on the defensive is because people fail to notice the small ways in which it is being chipped away at, little by little, day by day, sometimes even for reasons that seem to make sense. I was reminded of this by Dale Franks in this post at QandO talking about trivial little laws that continue to chip away at our autonomy.

For example, next week, a California legislator will introduce a bill that could send parents to jail for spanking their children:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California parents could face jail and a fine for spanking their young children under legislation a state lawmaker has promised to introduce next week.

Democratic Assemblywoman Sally Lieber said such a law is needed because spanking victimizes helpless children and breeds violence in society.

“I think it’s pretty hard to argue you need to beat a child,” Lieber said. “Is it OK to whip a 1-year-old or a 6-month-old or a newborn?”

Lieber said her proposal would make spanking, hitting and slapping a child under 4 years old a misdemeanor. Adults could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Leaving aside the debate about corporal punishment, it’s clear that there’s a difference between spanking and child abuse. Child abuse is already illegal, as it should be. Ms. Lieber seems to be saying that any form of physical punishment, no matter how mild, should be punished by the state. But here’s the funny, part, Lieber can’t even say what she considers illegal spanking to be:

Aides to the assemblywoman said they are still working on a definition for spanking.

The dangers in a law like this are, I think, obvious. The state would become more involved in daily family life and any physical contact between a parent and child, no matter how inadvertent could become a criminal act. Stupid if you ask me.

But wait, there’s more.Earlier this month, the City of Bangor, Maine made it illegal for an adult to smoke in a car, even their own, if a child is present. This week, a New Jersey legislator stated he would propose that New Jersey follow in Bangor’s footsteps. And, at the beginning of the year, Texas joined several other states in making it illegal for foster parents to smoke in their own homes.

And if you live in Washington State and think that the nurse at your doctor’s office is cute…’re out of luck, it’s illegal to date her.

Taken by themselves, none of these are important, or even significant issues. Combined, however, they demonstrate the way in which we’ve allowed, mostly by inaction and lack of attention, the power of the state to intrude into even the most trivial aspects of daily life.

  • Rue-Mur

    “Chipping away” isn’t the way I see it, rather “slipping away” is more accurate; as when we fail to grasp firmly and it falls from our hand(s). Americans are too trusting! They think the bozos they elect are smarter than they are and more in touch with all the ittsy-bittsy fine points; perhaps that’s one reason that so many lawyers seem to get their nod at the ballot box. Then comes the “chipping”, the Electees sit there in their beautiful offices and say to themselves, “Self! Ya gotta do something! Ya gotta propose a bill and get it passed or ya won’t get re-elected!” Then the hard part comes; they sit there for days and weeks on end thinking up something to put into a bill. Some can’t and they just sign on as a co-sponsor to some other idiot’s bill. Some can and they propose things no voter with two brain cells would propose: like a no spanking law, etc., etc. The problem is that the longer these “brilliant” servants of the people serve the dumber they get. For proof I need only point to the U.S.House of Lords (aka: da’Senate). Nope! It ain’t a problem with “chipping”, it’s a problem with “slipping”. Folks get lazy and vote for the same idiots election after election. Shame we don’t have a one term, no re-election clause in the Constitution. We absolutely need one!

  • Rue-Mur

    Ya know, I almost forgot about ‘dem d@mn judges. Their appointments shouldn’t be for any longer than 10 years. They sure ought’a be forced to come back and live with the results of their brilliant decisions down here in the mud and the blood and the beer, along with the rest of us unwashed folks. And college professors, college professors ought’a be strung up after 10 years too, especially those french speakin’ Neo-Commie ones. Lord I hate Neo-Commie’s!

  • AlmighyJB

    If you want to see the future of “nannyism” in the US, one just needs to look at the British motherland. Millions of cameras, outlawing doormats because someone might trip on them, calling the police when a neighbor child’s ball inadvertently enters your yard. These are some of the ridiculas things going on over there. The Daily Brickbat section at has a good daily recap of nanny state shenanagins, much of which happens in jolly old England. Unfortunately, our children will never learn that less government equals more freedom in the classroom. Their too busy learning the wonders of collectivism.

  • Wayne Casey

    For the most part people in America are ill informed on issues that will affect them, or just lazy. They do not research the subject just like the people we elect to represent us; do not research the bill they vote on. We want to feel good no matter what the cost. I gave this country another ten years at best, before we fall apart, if we don’t wise up and study what the candidates stand for. We need well informed citzens.

  • KW Baker

    What scares me is the way there is always a spin, and people seem to fall for it. For instance: if you are not for the anti-spanking law you are a child abusser, if you are against gay marriage, you hate gays, disagree with abortion on demand, you hate women and the list goes on. We are getting to touchy-feely. Where has commmon sense gone? It seems to me that most people will give up little freedoms here and there as long as they are taken care of. They would rather have security than freedom. We need a wake up call.

  • Sean

    Yes, forget the NSA and Army intelligence monitoring Americans engaged in political activities. And let’s not worry too much about our HUGE government using PR firms to “sell” us foreign wars in ways that focus groups indicated had the highest likelihood of closing the deal.

    And let’s not forget Alan Greenspan’s genius in increasing the social security “payroll tax” to 14% of income, but only up to a fixed sum — now about $96,000 a year per person — and ZERO after that. Now Bernanke’s continuing Greenspan’s rhetoric about the “crisis” developing because people are actually going to want that money back — and our deceitful government spent $1.6 trillion of it on general fund tax expenditures and replaced it with IOUs (“special treasury bonds” that aren’t convertible like ordinary ones). It means that if you make $96,000 a year or less, you pay 14% more in taxes on your WHOLE income than people who make more — people who make $500,000 to $1,000,000 a year pay almost nothing, and it’s only on “payroll” so capital gains from stocks and real estate and interest income are all not taxed for this purpose.

    The beauty of it is that when that forced “retirement fund” that was really a regressive tax comes due to start paying real benefits (meaning they can’t use it as a slush fund for general fund tax expenditures to make it look like to very low tax brackets we have now are sufficient to pay the bills), they are going to suggest that the age where people can collect will get pushed until they are older with the goal being to find the place where a sufficient number die off to make it a profit making endeavor. The “payroll tax” will be a real, regressive general fund tax that is sold as existing to pay retirement benefits, but is really used to supplement general tax fund revenues as a regressive tax and hidden by pushing back the age of retirement as far as possible until the money taken in is well more than that paid back.

    Oh, and let’s not forget that Iraq and Afghanistan are going to hit $1 trillion this year when you figure in VA costs. But then I suppose we can cut those out too.

    I think the spanking law is fairly silly, although it certainly is a bad idea to spank a child under age 3 since they have little idea what the hell is going on. But clearly there are greater threats to our liberty right now than anti-spanking laws.

    I always feel like throwing up when I see the incredible drain on the treasury that all of this war baloney is taking and the deaths and the military tribunals where a confession coerced with torture is admissible and sufficient to convict under charges that carry the death penalty — Jesus Christ. I say give me a man and an abandoned cabin and a tool box full of tools and I will get you a confession within no more than 48 hours.

    This is the threat to our liberty.

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  • Mark

    Along with liberty comes responsibility. However, we have become a nation of people looking for others to be responsible for the social and economic results of tripping over a door mat. If I trip and break my ankle, do I blame you for my accident ? No – not if my health insurance is in place. Whoops – no insurance. Do I still blame you ? No – but I do have a broken ankle.

    How can we be free and socially responsible, in the land of the free, when we are pushed into social situations by corporate greed at the expense of individual rights?

    The issue isn’t with a lame bill over spanking. It is why we didn’t fix the bigger issues like health care or retirement. Perhaps we should just say we live in the land of diversion.

  • James Duxfield

    Sean you may sound clever in all your ‘forget about’s’, but the reason Americans look so stupid to the world today is the same reason you are accepting clearly of the antispanking Spin.

    We have this law going through in our country.
    The motivation is absolutely not the child but I won’t go there unless you want. except to say That all studies quoted supporting not spanking have deliberately merged stats of Beatings with disciplined discipliners. And only a handful have not taken this approach and their methods being far more rigourous PROVE (not hint) that spanking by an even moderately responsible parent aids most areas of adult life and doesn’t harm others.
    A 30 year study with excellent methods
    I know my Child behaves alot better than her cousin.
    I first taught her to not touch by smacking her at age 7 months.
    I didn’t hurt her one bit and she knew exactly what I wanted and if your off spring are so lacking to link a slap on the back of their hand to a angry voice each time they touch something perhaps you are not of the intellect to contribute to this debate either.
    She (my daughter loves me totally).
    I can now scarcely ever smack her a few words and she is guided to do what saves a massive waste of time, stress to all present, and damage to the intellect of my little girl.
    Is that a clever option to not beginning discipline young? Their is a BIG and Starkly Clear difference between a spanking or disciplined discipline and a parent that can’t control their rage and hits a Kid any time rage wells up in them.
    If you can’t tell this difference or if a law that prevents you harming you children is what you need to not hit them; Please Don’t Have Kids!
    And don’t give me that law so I am required to allow my kids to become biowaste who hurt and hurt ohers all their life.
    You hate spin. When the spin-doctors you have heard lie to you say the ‘kids don’t understand spanking’; Direct them to me to see my well adjusted child who is biggest trauma is if when Daddy is not home and now at age 4 never needs smacking. She glows not from a red bottom but from good charachter now so far from many kids disabled for life by Stupid Parents who think spanking is abuse.
    I invested at an age that begins paying off and never stops doing so until my little girl dies of old age.
    Don’t underestimate this law. The Femmy neo Commies plan isn’t a 5 year plan it is 50 or a one hundred year plan? as corruption against common sense take alot longer to infuse.