Nanny state: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nanny state is a term that refers to state protectionism, economic interventionism, or regulatory policies (of economic, social or other nature), and the perception that these policies are becoming institutionalized as common practice. Opponents of such policies use the term in their advocacy against what they consider as uninvited and damaging state meddling. It has been referred to as a form of political correctness.



Its usage varies by political context, but in general it is used in reference to policies where the state is characterized as being excessive in its desire to protect (as a nanny would protect a child), govern or control particular aspects of society. Which particular aspects are considered to be excessively protected depends on usage. The term can refer to:

For example, politically conservative or libertarian groups in the United States (especially those that support the free market and capitalism) object to excessive state action to protect people from the consequences of their actions by restricting citizen options.

Liberals and Libertarians on the other hand have used the term to describe the state as being excessive in its protections of businesses and the business class —protections ostensibly made against the public good, and the good of consumers. This usage applies to the international context as well, where the "public good" is used to refer to people in general, and where the state is viewed as being excessive in its protection of native business over foreign (rival) businesses.

The term nanny state was probably coined by the Conservative British MP Iain Macleod who referred to "what I like to call the nanny state" in his column "Quoodle" in the December 3, 1965, edition of The Spectator.

Various uses of term

Some governance claimed to represent a nanny state are those which emerge from application of public health, risk management of health and safety policies. The European Commission has been criticised as acting like a nanny state by banning mercury in barometers as of June 2007.[2]

The British Labour Party politician Margaret Hodge is a defender of so-called nanny state policies, saying at a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research on November 26 , 2004, that "some may call it the nanny state but I call it a force for good".


The city state of Singapore has a reputation as a nanny state, owing to the considerable number of government regulations and restrictions on its citizens' lives. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of the modern Singapore, observed, "If Singapore is a nanny state, then I am proud to have fostered one."[1]

United Kingdom

In 2004, King's Fund, an independent think tank, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 people and found that most favoured policies that combated behaviour such as eating a poor diet and public smoking.[3]

Initiatives created by individual organisations (especially schools) have sometimes been misattributed by the British media as 'nanny state' government policies. For example, that the Health and Safety Executive had banned conkers in schools.[4]

See also


Further reading

  • David Harsanyi Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children ISBN 0767924320 ISBN 978-0767924320


  1. ^ Calman K (2009). "Beyond the nanny state: stewardship and public health". Public Health 123 (1): e6–e10. doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2008.10.025. PMID 19135693. Lay summary – Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2007-11-13).  
  2. ^ Banks, M.; Jones, G. (2007-07-06). "Barometer makers lose battle over mercury". Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-07-23.  
  3. ^ "UK public wants a 'nanny state'". BBC News. 2004-06-28. Retrieved 2010-01-05.  
  4. ^ "Myth: Kids must wear goggles to play conkers". Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 2008-10-27.  

External links

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