When the Nanny State Starts Attacking Nannies

OK, just a very short and sweet post here. I have written before about the nanny state and how big government feeds on itself, getting bigger and badder. Bureaucracies mushroom, egos expand, and freedoms lessen and shrink. The ever-increasing state gets more and more irrational as it thinks it must intrude into every area of life.

The trouble with soft totalitarianism is that it soon mushrooms into hard totalitarianism. Today’s bureaucracy on steroids becomes tomorrow’s Stazi or KGB. So keeping the state in check is an on-going work, one which must constantly and doggedly be engaged in. Or as has been said before, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”.

So here is another example of bureaucracy gone mad, and the nanny state going ballistic. The story comes out of Western Australia, and begins as follows: “A young mother was issued with a $250 fine last year for talking on her mobile phone while pushing a pram along a footpath. Police have confirmed the woman was issued with the infringement as she walked along a Mandurah footpath on April 21 last year.

“Police Inspector Bill Munnee said today the infringement was issued by a Senior Constable from the Peel Traffic office to the woman for using her mobile phone while she was in control of a pram as she walked her child on a footpath. The fine, understood to be $250, was withdrawn within 24 hours when the Senior Constable’s boss realised the massive error.”

OK, so it is just one small example. But unfortunately it is not unique. Such madness is happening every day, and it looks like this errant statism shows no signs of bottoming out. Plenty of social observers and political commentators of all varieties have pointed out the dangers here. Let me cite just a few of them:

-“The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else: In Sweden, expressing a moral objection to homosexuality is illegal, even on religious grounds, even in church, and a pastor minded to cite the more robust verses of Leviticus would risk four years in jail. In Canada, the courts rule that Catholic schools must allow gay students to take their same-sex dates to the prom. The secular state’s Bureau of Compliance is merciless to apostates to a degree even your fire-breathing imams might marvel at.” Mark Steyn

-“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” Groucho Marx.

-“Individual liberty exists in inverse proportion to the size of the state. The bigger the government/state, the less liberty the individual has. The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” Dennis Prager

-“Every step we take towards making the State our Caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our Master.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

-“Most bad government has grown out of too much government.” Thomas Jefferson

?-“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” P. J. O’Rourke

?-“Now I am one of those who believe that the cure for centralization is decentralization.” G. K. Chesterton

-“In politics, the great non sequitur of our time is that (1) things are not right and that (2) the government should make them right.” Thomas Sowell

-“A government is like fire, a handy servant, but a dangerous master.” George Washington

Getting fined for talking on the mobile while pushing a baby carriage is one thing. Allowing the state to keep getting worse in this regard is another. A free people will always get things wrong. We will often endanger ourselves, and sometimes others. But the paternalistic state is not the answer.

Mark Steyn again: “Freedom is messy. In free societies, people fall through the cracks – drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all these tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high. Big Government is the small option: it’s the guarantee of smaller freedom, smaller homes, smaller cars, smaller opportunities, smaller lives.”


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11 Replies to “When the Nanny State Starts Attacking Nannies”

  1. Other examples; you need a prescription to buy cough syrup for children under 6 now.

    There are laws in NSW by our ‘Liberal’ state government against leaving children in cars. So I can’t run into my local service station for 2 minutes? I complained to my local member but he was happy with this law!

    Damien Spillane

  2. Damien, a friend of ours was prosecuted for this, many years ago in Victoria.

    Hot summer day, cooling down during the night.

    At midnight awake mum takes baby in air-conditioned car to supermarket. Baby sleeps, mum decides to lock baby in the car, do the shopping and be back in ten minutes – which she was.

    Within that 10 minutes some anonymous bystander called the police, and an officious policewoman confronted our friend when she returned (speedy service, eh?) “Well, Gloria, what do you have to say for yourself?”.

    No concept of danger to the child could be in view at midnight, but “the law is the law”!

    Prosecuted, fined, and 2 year bond, if I recall correctly.

    John Angelico

  3. Hi Bill, read this article that in certain ways relates somewhat to the nanny state with it’s potentially ‘aggressive coercion’ and why this gentleman from your homeland has had enough.There’s far too much government here. I wonder if our penal colony heritage has something to do with it.


    It begins this way:

    “Goodbye, America.
    For as long as I’ve lived you’ve been my only home. I’ve had a wonderful life here. Your inhabitants are almost universally kind, and I’ve become lifelong friends with many of your citizens. All of my family lives here, everyone I have ever known or loved, and I will miss them all a lot. But after 22 years, I feel impelled to leave….”

    blessings, Mike London

  4. Interesting topic in the context of the recent debate about plain packaging of tobacco products which I think would have been widely supported.
    By the same token there is surely some merit in restricting the use of mobile phones in dangerous situations. I would think pushing a pram (presumably with a baby on board!) along the road would qualify. However maybe a warning by the police officer would have sufficed.
    Bill, I was intrigued that you would quote Grouch Marx, an avowed liberal Democrat. But what he says about politics is of course characteristically funny. However not so funny but very true the observation I read somewhere that the world would be a much better place if Marx had been Groucho instead of Karl!
    John Bradford

  5. Thanks John

    But I must say that if someone actually believes that a woman pushing a pram on a footpath (not a road) and chatting on a mobile is somehow in a “dangerous situation” then that person has either never pushed a pram before, or may have a hard time walking and chewing gum! Sorry I just am not as paternalistic as you seem to be becoming here! Bless you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. Well it’s a very long time since I pushed a pram and I don’t have any grandchildren yet. And when I did last push a pram we didn’t have mobile phones! But seriously mobile phones have been clearly identified as distractors. However maybe I’ll do the wise thing and quit while I am behind on pram pushing. (no pun intended)
    However I don’t think you would describe yourself as a libertarian would you Bill? Or are you a Ron Paul fan after all? I admit I could be. Christians no doubt dominated the Tea Party movement in the US.
    But realistically most Christians accept that there is a role for Government. We probably would have difficulty deciding where to draw the line on the so called nanny state. Maybe we just take it one piece of legislation at a time. In my experience that will keep us on our toes. Our parliaments are always busy making new laws or updating old ones. Rarely do they repeal many laws.
    John Bradford

  7. Thanks again John. No I am not a libertarian nor a Ronbot. See here eg:


    But the real question is not, am I growing libertarian in my old age, but are you growing lefty in your old age? Or are we rather just both growing to be grumpy old men – end of story?!

    And I of course nowhere have denied that “there is a role for Government”. But utterly insane bureaucratic regulation and nanny statism as on display here is something I am totally opposed to. And the fact that drawing the line may be difficult at times is no reason to abandon the idea of drawing lines altogether.

    And the point remains: anyone who seriously thinks pushing a pram while talking is a “dangerous situation” and/or in need of a police warning, let alone a police bust, is on a somewhat different page than the rest of us on this planet!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  8. I have conceded defeat on the pram. Re your other questions. Me a “lefty”? Never. More conservative than ever. Grumpy? Maybe. Blessings, old friend.
    John Bradford

  9. I must admit I am far more afraid of some bureaucrat deciding I’m an unfit parent than I am of my kids being kidnapped from the front yard, or dying in the car while I pay for petrol, or being abused while I run to the car and leave them under shelter while it’s raining, or being damaged for life from doing to many chores. I not a perfect parent but I have a feeling people who make some of these laws have never had children, or they are super parents, or they don’t remember what it’s like to pull into a service station just after a baby had fallen asleep after screaming for three hours. I also don’t have any idea what a ‘child’ is, surely a 10 yr old can be trusted with a plastic bag, a 12 yr old can sit in a car for a few minutes, a five year old can use a glass cup etc. It’s a scary thought that a parent can be judged for doing something the state say we shouldn’t with a child when child can be interpreted as up to 17.

    Kylie Anderson

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