Nanny State? Might not be so bad.

During an after-work workout rush at the gym on Friday, I was surprised to land a treadmill with a TV. It was super crowded, and only certain machines had TVs attached.

Lo and behold the TV had one channel, and so I watched C-Span in all it’s monotonous glory. But it gets better.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee was going through the proposed 2012 budget for the FDA, which President Obama requested to be increased by 30% from it’s current $4.3 Billion annually. The Subcommittee’s Chairman, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) though that was more money than the FDA needed, and told the agency’s Commissioner who was testifying, Margaret Hamburg M.D., exactly why he thought so.

To summarize Kingston’s argument, one look no further than the goal of his party: bringing down the deficit by cutting this year’s budget by $400 million.

Now this by itself is not that interesting. What is interesting was how Kingston talked about cutting the budget for “FDA projects” that he believed shouldn’t be regulated by the government at all, using the phrase Nanny State over and over to make his point.

In a time when partisan lines are drawn with permanent marker, and loaded language reflects that division, I think I’ve found my favorite term: Nanny State.

I <3 *HEART* this term.

Wikipedia has heard of Nanny State and says it was probably coined by a Conservative British politician in a 1965 op-ed column. But, like most phrases, it has changed and continues to morph with each person who thinks on it.

I never had a Nanny, but I always imagined life with one. So, with that in mind, my idea of a “nanny” state could go a few different ways. One would be a full-figured, older woman who waits at the bus stop for you after school. Over a healthy snack back at your house, she asks you about your day and helps you with your homework ’til your parents get home. Like, Mrs. Doubtfire.

The other option, which is a of a stretch, is the “Nana” character in Disney’s Peter Pan. Though she isn’t a human, Mr. and Mrs. Darling fully entrust the care of their children to the watchful eye this collie, Nana. (The argument could be made that the eldest daughter Wendy Darling is watching the children, too, but the dialogue between Mrs. Darling and Nana proves that the primary care task goes to the Dog.)

In either fantasy example, the kids are better cared for and better adjusted because of a Nanny or Nana.

In terms of cutting each congressional budget by 5% in 2011, something Nydia Velazquez – who didn’t have a Nanny growing up either – and most of the other liberal congressman don’t agree with, Nanny’s make for large expenses. Just like a Nanny in a home, it dips into a family’s budget in a real way. And so logically it follows that when a family’s budget needs to be cut, it can help ends meet.

But maybe, as Ms Velazquez has shown herself to believe, the budget isn’t the bottom line. Raising a good child, she would argue is. And in a perfect world, parents can take care of their children by themselves. But in the absence of good parents, a good Nanny (such as the FDA) might not be so bad.

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