Nanny state is a term of British origin (and primary use) that conveys a view that a government or its policies are overprotective or interfering unduly with personal choice. The term "nanny state" likens government to the role that a nanny has in child rearing. An early usage of the term comes from Conservative British MP Iain Macleod who referred to "what I like to call the nanny state" in his column "Quoodle" in the December 3, 1965, edition of The Spectator. It is defined by Dictionary.com as "a government perceived as authoritarian, interfering, or overprotective" and has also come to be associated with intrusive practices of having the government basically "baby" the populace by being in charge, in control of, and even financing all of its needs. Some governance claimed to represent a nanny state are those that emerge from application of public health, risk management of health and safety policies.
Use of term
The term has been used by the New Zealand National Party to describe the policies of their political opponents, the Fifth Labour Government, who were in power from 1999 until 2008. The child policies of the National Party's Paula Bennett were later given the 'nanny state' label by a Maori Community Law Service manager.
The city state of Singapore has a reputation as a nanny state, owing to the considerable number of government regulations and restrictions on its citizens' lives. Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of the modern Singapore, observed, "If Singapore is a nanny state, then I am proud to have fostered one."
In 2004, King's Fund, an independent think tank, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 people and found that most favoured policies that combatted behaviour such as eating a poor diet and public smoking; this was reported by the BBC as the public favouring a nanny state.
The British Labour Party politician Margaret Hodge has defended policies she acknowledged had been labelled as 'nanny state', saying at a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research on November 26, 2004, that "some may call it the nanny state but I call it a force for good".
Although the term is undefined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it has entered use in the United States over the past decade by some political commentators. For example, in 2006 Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research think tank used the term to describe conservative policies that protect the income of the rich. David Harsanyi used the term to describe food labeling regulations, the legal drinking age and socially conservative government policies. Another example of criticism was the response to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's May 2012 proposal to restrict the sale of soft drinks in venues, restaurants and sidewalk carts to 16 ounces.
- "nanny, n.1 and adj.". OED Online. Oxford University Press. December 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
- Harsanyi, David. (2007) Nanny state: how food fascists, teetotaling do-gooders, priggish moralists, and other boneheaded bureaucrats are turning America into a nation of children. p. 7 Random House, Inc. ISBN 0-7679-2432-0 OCLC 777893300
- Collins, Simon (2012-01-27). "Child policy smacks of nanny state, says critic". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- "UK public wants a 'nanny state'". BBC News. 2004-06-28. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- "'Nanny state' minister under fire". BBC News. 2004-11-26.
- Banks, M.; Jones, G. (2007-07-06). "Barometer makers lose battle over mercury". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-07-23.
- James, Frank (May 31, 2012). "Bloomberg Becomes Nanny-State Epitome For Some, Giving Obama A Breather". NPR: it's all politics.
- Baker, Dean (2006). The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer. Washington, D.C.: Center for Economic and Policy Research. ISBN 978-1-4116-9395-1. OCLC 71423207.
- Grynbaum, Michael (May 31, 2012). "New York Plans to Ban Sale of Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks". New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2012. "The measures have led to occasional derision of the mayor as Nanny Bloomberg, by those who view the restrictions as infringements on personal freedom."
- DiLorenzo, Thomas J.; Bennett, James T. (1997). What Next for the Nanny State?. St. Louis, MO: Center for the Study of American Business (now the Weidenbaum Center), Washington University. OCLC 38063902.
- Bennett, James T.; Di Lorenzo, Thomas J. (1999). The Food and Drink Police: America's Nannies, Busybodies, and Petty Tyrants. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. ISBN 9781560003854. OCLC 60213705.
- Huntington, Robert (2004). The Nanny State. London: Artnik. ISBN 9781903906507. OCLC 59266226.
- Baker, Dean (2006). The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer. Washington, DC: Center for Economic and Policy Research. ISBN 9781411693951. OCLC 71423207.
- Hills, Simon (2006). Strictly No! How We're Being Overrun by the Nanny State. Edinburgh: Mainstream. ISBN 9781845961558. OCLC 74964546.
- King, Thomas J. (2009). War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State. New York: iUniverse. ISBN 9781440123047. OCLC 610003402.
|Look up nanny state in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Coote, Anna (26 May 2004). "Nanny madness". The Guardian.