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Do Now #36: The “Nanny State” – Nurture or Nuisance?

| June 15, 2012 | 0 Comments
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photo by Swanksalot/Flickr


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow

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Do Now

The “Nanny State” refers to either a protective, caring government OR a government that interferes in matters that should be private decisions. It depends upon your point of view. So should the government take care of us or mind its business?

Introduction

Do Now #35 posed “the question of whether the government has a right to decide what’s good or bad for us,” in relation to sin taxes – that is taxes levied on sins, such as smoking and gambling.

Now New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed passing a law restricting restaurants, movie theaters and sports arenas from selling sugary sodas in sizes larger than 16 fluid ounces. In the same vein Richmond voters will decide in November whether to levy a soda tax. As KQED’s State of Health blogger writes

So when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed limiting portion sizes on sugary drinks, I wasn’t surprised when opponents of the idea labeled it a “nanny state” tactic …………….and
The “nanny state” label has gone viral — 470,000 hits on Google when I search “bloomberg nanny state.”

Clearly the “Nanny State” is a loaded term, political shorthand, suggesting overprotection, nosiness, meddling in private lives. It becomes a debate about liberties.

But if you frame it differently you have a different story. It becomes the government taking responsibility for the social well-being of its citizens, or the welfare state, known in countries such as Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the UK. It is intended as a force for good, providing support and a safety net when times are tough for people. Here government steps in to help those in need – the unemployed, sick, pensioners, the disabled, returning veterans etc. And taxes are paid for this purpose.

We are mandated to wear seat belts and safety helmets, to buy health insurance, to control car emissions. So Why is Mayor Bloomberg a ‘Nanny’? When does care and protection become meddling?
At what point is this Big Brother?

Resource

 
The Daily Show segment Drink Different – May 31, 2012
Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed extra-large soda ban combines the draconian government overreach people love, with the probable lack of results they expect.


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.


More Resources

The California Report’s State of Health blog post Why is Mayor Bloomberg a ‘Nanny’? – June 12, 2012
State of Health has followed the soda tax issue closely. Richmond voters will decide in November whether their city will be the first in California to levy a soda tax. The City Council voted to put the measure on the ballot only after hours of heated public debate.

The California Report’s Governing California blog post Soda Tax Canned – April 26, 2011
A state tax proposal that would have helped fund schools, including teaching kids about nutrition and health, looks to have been tossed in the recycling bin.

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Category: Do Now, Post-Secondary ESL

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About the Author ()

Maxine Einhorn is from London and has lived in the Bay Area for 12 years. She has worked in adult education in London,UK, for over twenty years as a tenured instructor and department manager. She has an MA in Film and TV from University of London and has taught, moderated and appraised academic work in film studies and media literacy at undergraduate and college level. She runs the ESL/ Post Secondary project at KQED which offers media-rich resources for and created by ESL educators.