'Nanny State' Mentality

A reader takes issue with banning drive-thrus. Trevor Shaw responds.

By Letter to the Editor
Published May 31, 2005

Dear Raise the Hammer,

Your magazine sure likes banning many things. Smoking, pitbulls, drive thrus, etc.

Is there anything that you don't like that you don't propose taking away from everyone else by banning the activity?

You sure have an authoritarian, "nanny state" mentality. Assuming your neighbour is an imbecile and needs coddling is a Canadian pastime.

In other words, you make a good Canadian.

David Deane

(Trevor Shaw Responds)

Thanks for your response.

Banning smoking? Yes. Pitbulls? Yes. Drive-Thrus? Yes. Peanut Butter in schools? Yes. Cell-phones in Hospitals? Yes.

Many cities around the world agree and can appreciate the safety others can enjoy from a few simple acts of consideration.

Peanut Butter can be deadly to school-aged children if they just touch it with a finger. Cell-phones can interfere with delicate equipment performing life-saving procedures. Pitbulls attack people unpredictably.

And how much effort does it take to get out of car and walk into a store for a coffee? It worked for generations before us, and we wonder why everyone is getting obese.

Drive-thrus isolate a "pod" site by creating a queue of idling cars around the perimeter, forcing pedestrians to cross the queue of cars. This is absurd. You may disagree and have no problem walking between running cars to reach your destination.

The point is, drive-thrus don't serve everyone within three minutes. Thus, an anti-idling by-law (if it's worth anything) will apply to drive-thrus as well. What's the point of making a by-law if it won't be enforced?

It's interesting that the term "nanny state" is only used by the "haves" of society and if they ever find themselves on the "have-not" side you will quickly see them lining up for help. Even the "haves" are, for the most part, two paycheques away from bankruptcy.

Is Sweden a "nanny state"? How about Finland, Denmark, Belgium and Switzerland? Do those citizens feel they are too stupid to think for themselves?

Do I believe in individual rights and liberties and the freedom to exercise them? You betcha. But do you want the exercising of those liberties by others to put you in danger?

The truth is, the government is better able to administer certain elements of our society. The alternative is we could return to a feudal state of overlords who govern because they have the biggest army and they are allowed to do as they wish to whomever they wish, simply because they are wealthier and stronger - otherwise known as the Dark Ages.

Alternately, we can strike a balance, which is what Canada strives to obtain. Most people agree that society needs basic human decency to function, even if this takes away your personal liberty to drive 100 km/h in a school zone or play fetch with your Pitbull at a children's playground.

By the way, cars are the ultimate expression of communism. Roads are built and maintained by the government, which chooses when and where tho build them with our collective money and administer (read police) them when drivers do not behave maturely.

So unless you're prepared to buy your own road for your own personal use, you are participating in the biggest form of communism in the western world.

We welcome feedback from our readers and invite you to send a letter to the editor. Please read our submissions policy for details.


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