Life in the nanny state

I was reading Rick Steves’ Italy 2011 (the 2010) version, when I was surprised to learn this little fact on page 21:

Because Europeans are generally careful with energy use, you’ll find government-enforced limits on air-conditioning and heating. There’s a one-month period each spring and fall when neither is allowed.

For those of us in Marin who have been fussing about PG&E installing smart meters on their houses (something that happened to our house, will she nil she), that little paragraph is a stark harbinger of the future in the nanny state.

If you need any further reminder of what it’s like to have the government make all your decisions for you, Bruce Bawer chimes in with this one:

In Norway, all wine and spirits are sold in government-owned stores dedicated strictly to that purpose. The stores – which collectively are known by the cozy name vinmonopolet, or “the wine monopoly” – are open from 10 to 6 on weekdays and 10 to 3 on Saturdays. They’re closed on Sundays and on all sorts of holidays. Around Christmas and Easter they’re closed for days at a stretch.

The number of stores is limited, determined not by market demand but, in good socialist fashion, by government fiat. In Oslo, a sprawling city with a population of over half a million, there are only 26 stores. And the prices – thanks to taxes designed to discourage potential customers and punish those who do buy – are the world’s highest. Norwegians go to Sweden to purchase cheaper intoxicants than they can get at home — and for the same reason Swedes go to Denmark, Danes to Germany, and Germans to Italy.

The Democrats are working on a similar situation, not with alcohol, but with food itself. Michelle Obama’s obesity crusade isn’t about self-control, it’s about government control. Mayor Bloomberg has already given New Yorker’s a taste for this kind of medicine:

Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle draws our attention to the fawning coverage Politico reporter Amy Parnes gives to Michelle Obama’s crusade against obesity. Parnes. Boyle argues, might as well be regarded as an unpaid press agent on the First Lady’s behalf. Parnes in particular wants to criticize conservatives who have taken aim at the First Lady’s self-chosen cause as another manifestation of the nanny state. But who can deny that the authoritarian left has our menus in its gunsights? From Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on transfats and war on salt in New York City to bans on sodas and other treats in public schools to the documentaries and pressure groups attacking McDonald’s, is the idea of extending government regulation to our food choices that far-fetched? Our nannies have already proposed taxing certain politically-incorrect foods at a higher rate. And if they come for our donuts, won’t our guns be next?

I’ll leave you to contemplate the irony of our gluttonous first lady, the one who dines in fatty style wherever she goes, attempting to control American eating habits.

Many years ago, one of my first slow steps across the Rubicon happened when, in 1979, I met a Russian woman who had managed to immigrate here because she fell in love with an American exchange student studying in Moscow. The thing that struck her most was the choice in stores. Russian stores had no choice. You bought what the government made available. In America, you bought what the market made available. She would amuse herself by going into Safeway and just standing there, drinking it in.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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