Memphis, History & Politics

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Forget the "Nanny State" and even the "Daddy State" Say Hello to the Baby Daddy State.

The term "Nanny State" is used to criticize government policy that supposedly steps into area that should be free choice. The term "Daddy State" as a counter criticism of neo-conservative authoritarianism. I think a much better term to describe the current efforts to abdicate any responsibility for its citizens is the Baby Daddy State.

A popular criticism of liberal approach to government is that it will result in a "Nanny State", i.e. overprotective and taking away free choices. That label is in fairy common usage, but a growing term used as a criticism of authoritarian conservative policy is the "Daddy State." That tag was created by Paul Starobin in an article in the Atlantic in 2004. He compared to trend of surrendering personal liberties in the "War or Terror"* to the willing surrender of freedoms by the Russians in re-electing former KGB chief Vladamir Putin. Though some of that right-wing authoritarian attitude continues post War on Terror, for example the new mother denied a birth certificate for her child unless she answered personal questions including her "abortion history"

The problem is that neither of these labels describes the post-Obama election wave of Tea Partying, Ayn Rand worshipping government is evil, people who work for the government are worthless, frivolous government programs like schools, helping the sick and elderly should be cut or better yet, eliminated. Since most of the government functions under attack disproportionately benefit the poor or the lowering paying, less skilled jobs, the the trend is motivated by racism. That's a pretty attractive argument, frankly, because Obama is constantly thrown up as the representation of what the Tea Partiers and the union busters hate, even if it's state and local government functions under attack. I don't know though, it leaves a lot to be desired as a universal theory. Why the hatred for Medicare? To be clear, this is a hatred by the politicians; cutting Medicare is opposed by a majority in every demographic, even self-identified Tea Partiers.

In case you don't know, a Baby Daddy is someone who fathers a child but who does not stay around to be a father to that child. We created all these institutions that we have no intention of getting rid of, like Medicare, public schools, trash pick-up and other essential government functions. Remember that the GOP denies that they have voted to end Medicare. They're just not going to pay nearly as much and get the same coverage. It doesn't sound like it can work, and it doesn't. Medicare already provide health care at a much lower rate than private insurers can provide. How can moving Medicare coverage do anything but raise the cost or eliminate coverage?

The fundamental problem is that the wave of politicians, mostly Republican and the newer ones having adopted the Tea Party label, came to power with the single, simple agenda of cutting government. This is a problem because cutting government has been the most popular platform for politicians at all levels of government for a good 30 years. All the easy cuts have been made long ago. What is left are either the necessary programs or the popular programs. Neither of which can be cut outright. You cold look at making these program more efficient but that would take both hard work and through knowledge of the programs you're cutting. Not surprising this hasn't happened. Instead, we have a series of policies that simply cut funding, promise that services will remain and a willingness to simply walk away from the obvious problems the policies create.

*A better name would be the War on Not Being Afraid


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