Monday, November 19, 2012

Nanny-city mayors and our diet

Immediately following the New York City Board of Health approved a ban on the sale of large sodas at restaurants, street carts and movie theaters in September of 2012, Mayor Bloomberg said this: “This is the single biggest step any city, I think, has ever taken to curb obesity…It’s certainly not the last step that lots of cities are going to take, and we believe that it will help save lives.”

This week, just two months after Bloomberg’s unprecedented move to regulate what people drink and how much they drink it, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago decided to crack down on the unhealthy eating habits of city folks. He said, “These new vending machines will make it easier than ever before for city employees and the public to make healthy lifestyle decisions…When city employees take their wellness into their own hands, we can reduce health care costs and also serve as a model for the residents of Chicago when it comes to making healthy choices.”

Although comparing Bloomberg and Emanuel to Nazi’s is extreme, what isn’t extreme is to put their policies side by side with what the Hitler Youth health manual stated. It reads: “Nutrition is not a private matter!” In the opinion of Germany's national socialist party, the nutrition and diet of Germans was a political matter. An activity that can be lawfully regulated by the State.

With a statist mindset, whether it be city mayors inspired by secular-liberalism or the Third Reich itself, the proper distinction between private domain and public domain inevitably gets blurred. Christopher Dawson, in his book, Religion and the Modern State, gave us a heads-up about this very development in 1938. He said,

“The new State will be universal and omnipotent. It will mould the mind and guide the life of its citizens from the cradle to the grave. It will not tolerate any interference with its educational functions by any sectarian organization, even though the latter is based on religious convictions…They will govern the whole life. It will be impossible to go one’s own way, as in the old days, and leave the State in control of politics. For there will be no department of life in which the State will not intervene and which will not be obliged to conform to the mechanized order of the new society.”

But when Christianity is allowed to act, in some measure, upon the State, lines are drawn in the sand and distinctions made between what we owe to Caesar and what we owe to God. The central Gospel truth that every person was created by God, created in the likeness of God and created for God naturally puts limitations on the State. In the past, it prevented the State from doing too much.

Is it not the case that where the government’s intervention ends, the initiative of the citizen begins? And is it not also the case that when a State assumes the role of a nanny, it will presume to take on the role of a master?

Bottom line: The nanny state has to be resisted if the master is to be kept at bay. I think mayor Bloomberg should be taken seriously when, after his ban on big soda drinks kicked in, he said, "It’s certainly not the last step that lots of cities are going to take and we believe that it will help save lives.” ."

God, save us from their compassion!