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Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children
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Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  106 ratings  ·  21 reviews
When did we lose our right to be lazy, unhealthy, and politically incorrect?

Move over Big Brother! An insidious new group has inserted itself into American politics. They are the nannies—not the stroller-pushing set but an invasive band of do-gooders who are subtly and steadily stripping us of our liberties, robbing us of the inalienable right to make our own decisions, a
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 18th 2007 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Well, who'd have thunk this dyed-in-the-wool lefty-liberal would like a book that's blurbed on the back by such conservative stalwarts as Tucker Carlson and David Boaz? Chalk it up to my ingrained civil libertarianism. Harsanyi makes some great points about the government's continuing intrusion into every aspect of everyday people's lives. I didn't agree with everything he said; two examples where we will have to agree to disagree involve consumer safety laws (I think businesses should be punish ...more
Greg Perciak
This book is a hoot, written by libertarian columnist David Harsanyi of the Denver Post. He provides numerous examples of how the government is over reaching into our lives at the urging of activists whether they're pushing health, safety, or family values. Examples: banning of trans fats in NY and pate de fois gras in Chicago, sneering at the overweight, shunning smokers. His point isn't so much to trash activists, though he does, but to indicate that we're becoming a nation of children - citiz ...more
Adam Ross
A mixed bag. Harsanyi relishes in being allowed to choose "bad" things, and I think libertarians would be better served in focusing somewhere else. He is for prostitution and pornography and rails against those who want to eliminate them, and there I cannot follow him. But he also does a good job showing us just how patronizing and "nannying" our government has become. The first few chapters are on legislation against drinking, smoking and "unhealthy" foods, trans fats, sugar and so forth. These ...more
Interesting look at the trend toward "nanny" laws...looked particularly at areas including smoking bans, laws regarding food and alcohol, school playgrounds, porn, etc. Used many specific examples of laws he considered "nanny-ish," several of which were based on bad science or badly distorted data, and indicative of the loss of personal liberties.

While I won't go as far as he seems to in denouncing certain laws as restrictions on our God-given rights (for example, I think seat belt laws are a g
Unfortunately, accidents happen. But in this day and age the mindset is, "we have all this technology and all this acquired knowledge and know-how. Why CAN'T we prevent accidents and mishaps?!"

Because, no matter what you do, people will get hurt.

Mentally: Ack! Everything so far has been [A]! I must've done something wrong.. But I'm SURE that I calculated those answers right.. Don't know... should I change or ... aaaaaah! ..

Emotionally: He said he'd call, and when he finally did he just said "
I enjoy Harsanyi's work in Reason magazine and while sympathetic to its premise, other books depict much better the libertarian argument against the "nanny state". He makes the same mistakes I feel other libertarians do in that they can't just say: "Sure, drinking, porn and marijuana are bad for you, but we shouldn't make those decisions for grown adults and their prohibition causes more problems." He goes farther and tries to justify those actions saying that drinking and masturbation are good ...more
"...this book is not a manifesto of indifference (because certainly we must help the least fortunate among us) or an endorsement of indulgence (because only a fool would deny that smoking leads to all kinds of miserable diseases, obesity is a wretchedly unhealthy state, and drinking...well, drinking is almost always fun - but don't drive!) but a book about freedom, personal responsibility and free will. It isn't about ignoring the hazardous decisions we make, it's about being able to exercise ou ...more
This idea has so much potential, but Harsanyi's book is utter crap. He's an opinion columnist, and his "style" (I use the word generously) is much better suited to a 750-word newspaper article than to a 200+ page book. It is obvious and important that Americans' freedoms are being whittled away by government "nannies" (think seatbelt laws, schools banning tag and dodgeball, cities and states banning unhealthy foods, etc.). It's really too bad that a more gifted writer couldn't address this very ...more
I agreed with many points of this book but Mr. Harsanyi is far more libertarian than I. I found his arguments about drunk driving laws particularly unpersuasive. Worth your time if you like the mental exercise of arguing with the author.
Alicia Shafer
Pretty good premise - that there are too many needless laws that basically protect us from ourselves. This makes sense for a lot of what the author talked about like laws outlawing fatty foods or seat belt laws, but it seemed like he also included a lot of things that makes sense like smoking laws. Basically he is a fairly strong libertarian, so if you are into that you will probably agree with most of the book. The main reason I rated it low, however, was that his tone was really annoying. You ...more
Kathy Sarlog
A thought-provoking look at how increasing governmental regulations, fueled by alarmists, are stripping away our personal freedoms. Various topics are discussed, such as food, smoking, alcohol, playground games and pornography, and Harsanyi argues convincingly how statistics are distorted to convince legislators to pass laws that govern more and more of our personal choices. In essence, our freedom to choose is being taken away because of the fear that some will make bad choices (hence the title ...more
Oct 05, 2007 bryan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"Hygiene is the corruption of medicine by morality. It is impossible to find a hygienist who does not debase his theory of the healthful with a theory of the virtuous. The true aim of medicine is not to make men virtuous; it is to safeguard and rescue them from the consequences of their vices." -- H.L. Mencken
This columnist's book takes on the trend of government treating people like children who need to be protected from themselves: the "food police," cigarette police and seat-belt police. Whatever happened to common sense? Interesting and informative.
Jeff Raymond
The problem with some political books is that they devolve into a "This is my premise. It is bad. See? This, this and this happened. Then there was this premise. It is also bad. Etc." This one is very guilty of it, and would work better as a blog/web page.
While I did not agree with everything in this book, I did think it cast a disturbing light on the increase of Nanny Laws in the United States. So many of our personal freedoms are being slowly chiseled away, a small chip at a time.
Jun 18, 2008 Justin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with common sense; libertarians; non-uptight parents
This was an entertaining look at the nanny state emerging in the US. The writer was a little too snarky and thought he was too clever for my tastes. Still, a good quick read for those with even the slightest libertarian bent.
This book lays out in numerous examples that people are trying to decide what's best for you, and that if you don't like it you can pound sand. Also goes into the "science" behind trans fat and smoking bans.
John Weibull
One of the best books I've read on the nanny state, and the eroding of our civil liberties. Time to speak up now people! I want my foie gras!
The only problem with this book is that it will give the nannies ideas.
This book depressed me so much, I couldn't get to the end of it.
Leah marked it as to-read
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Kyle Nicholas
Kyle Nicholas marked it as to-read
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Lisa Morrow marked it as to-read
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