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December 2, 2009

The Rise of Parentalism

Kevin E. Dayhoff

In early November, Towson University announced that it will become a smoke free campus in late summer 2010.


On November 12, The Baltimore Sun published a lengthy article on the decision, noting that Towson will become the “first four-year college to ban an activity once as commonplace as lounging on the quad.


“The reason for the policy, which goes into effect in August, is simple, administrators said: They want to reduce health risks from smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.


“‘I don't try to guide people in how they live their lives, but I am going to protect the campus so it's clean and pleasant for as many people as possible,’ said Towson President Robert L. Caret.”


Yeah, right.


Certainly by now most people have come to realize that smoking, and second-hand smoke, is bad for your health and we should join together to applaud Towson for looking after our health.


Towson now joins the State of Maryland, many other state and local governments in helping those of us who cannot take personal responsibility for our lives.


The federal government has also stepped up its efforts to save us from ourselves and for that we can all be most thankful.


In a recent article in The Journal of the American Enterprise Institute, Alex J. Pollock explained that “The great philosopher of the authoritarian state, Thomas Hobbes, had this to say in 1651:


“By art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMONWEALTH or STATE (…) which is but an artificial man, though of greater stature and strength … in which the sovereignty is an artificial soul …”


Mr. Hobbs called the state, “Civitas.” We now know the anthropomorphism of the state as our Nanny – as in the “Nanny State.”


Please remember that this is a good thing. As we venture further into the new millennium and the “Age of Obama,” it simply must be understood that we are helpless and we must be saved from ourselves.


Joseph B. White wrote in The Wall Street Journal on June 23, 2009, “Uncle Sam Enters the Great Nanny State Debate,” “From President Barack Obama’s first hour in office, he has been urging the American people to shape up.


“‘The time has come to set aside childish things,’ the president said, quoting the Bible in his inaugural address. In his own words, he called for ‘a new era of responsibility.’”


The message is messianic.


Later in his article, Mr. White snorts, “Still smoking? The Food and Drug Administration will clamp down on marketing practices designed to encourage the habit – one that has had a hold on the president himself.”


On September 1, 2006, Radley Balko wrote “Myths of the Nanny State,” for the CATO Institute, in which he observed:


“The late economist Julian Simon was libertarianism's great optimist.…


“The ‘upside’ of libertarianism, however, has always been the philosophy's ability to see the potential in individuals and in people's proclivity to make good decisions about their own well-being and, in the process, better the plight of humankind…”


“Though Malthusian prophets still pop up from time to time, Simon seems to have largely won that debate. Today's critics of free markets don't invoke Armageddon as their predecessors did. Nor do they declare that prosperity will be our undoing.”


Mr. Balko calls to our attention later in the article: “In a recent paper published in the journal Public Choice, “Afraid to be Free: Dependency as Desideratum,” Nobel Prize–winning economist James Buchanan composes a new taxonomy of socialist threats to liberty.


“Buchanan argues that the conventional threats to freedom from managerial socialism (central planning) and distributionist socialism (the welfare state) are today joined by paternalistic socialism and ‘parental socialism,’ which Buchanan describes as the willingness among many to allow the government to take control of their lives.


“The emerging threat to American liberty today, then, is a combination of these latter two forms of socialism – the desire among some in government to interfere in nearly every aspect of our lives, and the lack of concern on the part of many Americans that this is happening.


“And while conventional critics of capitalism came primarily from the left, the parentalist-paternalist movement isn't as easily marginalized.


“From the left, for example, a new class of critics has emerged under the banner of ‘public health.’”


It is with this understanding that we fully comprehend the new edict from Towson, “the parentalist-paternalist movement isn't as easily marginalized …” because it “has emerged under the banner of ‘public health.’”


Candidly, we should all embrace the gentle soothing salve that the government is looking out for us.


Furthermore, we need the government to take responsibility for our lives and it is in that context one may understand that Towson has not gone far enough.


Please understand that on October 6, 2009, Radha Chitale wrote “Where’s the Beef? 10 Unexpectedly Risky Foods,” for the ABC News medical unit.


In the article we are warned, “A new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that a number of food poisoning cases are caused by some unexpected foods, including leafy greens, potatoes, and ice cream.”


The list includes, leafy greens, eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts, and berries, including strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries.


The real question is why has Towson dragged its feet in banning all of these dangerous materials from campus? This is an appalling revelation.  The very lives of our children are at stake.


How can Towson students lead our great nation into the future if they are dead from eating French fries, strawberries and ice cream?


The horror. Join me in demanding action now. After all, it is our fate and the future of all mankind that is at stake.


Let them eat cake.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at


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