Nanny State

Every now and then, I do like to prove I’m not hopelessly liberal, and this attempt from the NC legislature to mandate that daycare not serve chocolate milk strikes me as a good opportunity:

Proposed nutrition standards for day care centers were watered down in the state House on Monday night, after conservatives lambasted the effort as a big-government plot to ban chocolate milk.

Faced with building opposition, bill co-sponsor Rep. Jennifer Weiss introduced an amendment to change the nutrition mandates to suggestions. Still, some Republican members of the House assailed the proposal as “nanny-state” rules intended to remove from parents the discretion to feed their children as they see fit.

The state already sets nutrition standards for licensed child care facilities. The new bill seeks to tighten those existing requirements to meet the recommendations of a legislative task force on combating childhood obesity. Many of the recommendations, such as substituting reduced fat milk for whole milk for children older than 2, came from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For once, I’m with the conservative backlash, though I think they could treat the problem of childhood obesity more seriously.  This is a very real problem, but I don’t think the solution is to literally remove parents’ choices about what their kids drink while in daycare.  Certainly, I think the state should do everything in its power to try and keep kids healthy and to encourage good health and nutrition, but to actually forbid chocolate milk in daycare sure seems a bit much.

While, I’m at it on the nanny state, I also get that they don’t want to see people putting their eyes out with bottle rockets, but, I am thankful that there are a number of states that allow me to take that risk.  On July 4th, we had a home fireworks show with fireworks legal in North Carolina (emits sparks up to 6 feet).  On July 5th, we traveled through Tennessee where you can get the good stuff.   The July 5th show was much cooler.  And nobody came anywhere close to harm.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Nanny State

  1. Anonymous Coward says:

    Purchasing fireworks with your own private money and using them in a way that doesn’t endanger me, my family, or my property is quite different than using my money (taxes) to subsidize shitty food for young, developing children so that later on in life I can pay a lot more in taxes AND insurance premiums when those kids grow into obese masses with their own gravitational pull.

    You seem to have forgotten the 1st Rule of Being a Liberal: “Never believe a conservative!” And please don’t feed into the meme that it’s a backlash from the imposition of the nanny state; that’s just like anything a conservative politician does, it’s either for power, money, or the protection of private interests. (I wonder, where did the $$$ come from to purchase robo-calls?)

    My understanding of the bill was to apply expert nutritional recommendations in facilities not only licensed by the state, but for the consumption of many children who are subsidized with state funds. If this was a private facility where a con wanted to implement a certain nutritional program they would rail that the gov’t has no right to intervene. Is it logically inconsistent to believe that our tax dollars should be spent in ways that our elected leaders deem fit, especially for the purposes of improving the lives of children and saving us money in the future?

    So I’m all for banning chocolate milk, candy, soda, and other junk food in places where I pay for it. And when kids go home from a licensed facility I helped to pay for, with a subsidy my tax dollars funded, their parents can load them up with all the junk they want. They can even top it all off with a Roman candle! But if my $$$ is involved, I’m going to buy them what I think is right. And that’s not the nanny state, those sentiments are what it means to be truly conservative.

    • Steve Greene says:

      No, I’m not dumb enough to believe all the Republican spin. Most of my opinion was actually formed a couple weeks ago when I read the original story about this in the N&O. But, although conservatives push it too far, there certainly is a “there” there to the nanny state argument. My understanding that this was simply for any state regulated/licensed daycare. I agree with you 100% when it comes to the state not subsidizing unhealthy eating. It’s just that I don’t think simply licensing a daycare should give the state that kind of power. I suspect we’re 90% in agreement.

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