Nanny State or Necessary

The best argument to deflate (probably) conservative cries of “Nanny State!” about regulating unhealthy food comes from the success of the campaign against smoking. By far the most successful policy changes for curtailing smoking have been restricting advertising, removing access to youths, banning smoking in public places and taxing tobacco.

At a certain point, as a country, we will recognize the similarities between the obesity epidemic and smoking. So far, the grotesque little diabetic imps that flop around next to you on the plane or in public places haven’t been enough to derive a unified opinion on taxing unhealthy food or subsidizing healthy stuff. Currently, our nation’s food subsidies are for corn, which ends up making corn sugar cheap and in everything, and meat.

This Fresh Air interview about the HBO Documentary “Weight of a Nation” discusses the obesity epidemic, and these issues of regulation, in much better detail. Still, I wonder what it will take because I find myself able to don my conservative hat and remain unconvinced.

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The Camelot of the Nanny State

Prepare yourself.  This is the goliath.  This New York Times piece on school counselors wrecked my brain.  Even my infantile understanding of development psychology bellowed up ‘bullshit’ from the depths of my meaty man-chest.

“I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,” said Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis. “We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.”

“Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend,” she continued. “We say he doesn’t need a best friend.”

And the counter from people with a relevant eduction:

But such an attitude worries some psychologists who fear that children will be denied the strong emotional support and security that comes with intimate friendships.

“Do we want to encourage kids to have all sorts of superficial relationships? Is that how we really want to rear our children?” asked Brett Laursen, a psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University whose specialty is peer relationships. “Imagine the implication for romantic relationships. We want children to get good at leading close relationships, not superficial ones.”

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