Posted by: bridget | 17 December 2006

Governments or Governesses?

New York City is reconsidering its total cell-phone ban in public schools. Previously, NYC wanted to prohibit children from even possessing a cell phone in school (even on silent, even in a locker), to deal with the problem of cell phones in classrooms. The new proposal calls for storage fees of cell phones, ranging from $1 to $4/day, supplied by a private vendor. Yes, the government is directly funding its private entity of choice.

The United Kingdom is cracking down on obesity. (Via Lewd, Lascivious Lexington.) Suggestions for improving the health of Britons include:

  • Printing a helpline numbers for advice with all clothes sold with a waist of more than 40in for men and 37in for boys, women’s garments with a waist of more than 35in or size 16 or above, and more than 31in for girls
  • Banning the placement of sweets and fatty snacks at or near shop tills and at children’s eye level
  • Taxing processed foods that are high in sugar or saturated fat
  • Introducing health checks for all school leavers, both primary and secondary
  • Allowing new urban roads only if they have cycle lanes
  • Establishing a dedicated central agency responsible for all aspects of obesity
  • A to the L has some excellent insights into the problems with a Nanny State. The pachyderm echoes her sentiments and adds a few of her own. John Locke stated that the purpose of government is to do for people what people cannot do for themselves. Banning cell phones from schools – to avoid class disruptions – is not the function of the School Board, but rather of the aggrieved teachers. Banning trans fats or discouraging people from buying junk food increases government expenditures without a corresponding societal benefit (previously blogged); it is not a government function, but rather an individual decision, to decide what to eat.

    To take the contrapositive of Mr. Locke’s view: the government should not do for people what people can do for themselves. Anyone who cannot figure out what to eat, when to exercise, or cannot operate a cellular telephone is not fit to function in society. The pachyderm fails to see the motivation or the function behind any one of these regulations.

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