I was recently listening to a BBC program transmitted on National Public Radio about Australia and how the government is increasingly passing legislation to regulate even the smallest aspects of peoples’ lives, including attempting to restrict or ban the use of Vegemite!
The announcer used the term “Nanny State” regarding this behavior, and by this, he obviously meant that the Australian government apparently believes that Australian citizens are not capable of making informed decisions themselves nor are they able to protect their own well-being.
I personally feel that the term “Nanny State” is overused by conservatives who wish to protect their own interests and their own consistent manipulation of government and legislation in order to protect their own business interests. The truth is, protection of public health is one extremely important aspect of government (collective) responsibility. As a United States citizen, I feel our government fails miserably in this area.
I strongly believe in personal responsibility, but I also believe just as strongly that we live in groups and are members of societies in order to reap a benefit from collective life and to help one another live safer, better, and happier lives. As individuals, it is our personal responsibility to inform ourselves and to make the best possible decisions for ourselves and our families. Where do we get information in order to make the best decisions? Today, we live in a world in which more information than ever before is available. We each have to be very dedicated in this process to inform ourselves accurately, as big business and the media collaborate to manipulate us so that we continue to purchase unhealthy products and make decisions that benefit them and not us.
I am fairly sure that most people want to give their children the best start in life possible, from the food they eat, the education they receive, the exposure to cultural opportunities, and the quality of housing. People struggling to make it day to day love their children just as much as those who bring in huge paychecks or those who are so wealthy that they don’t have to work, just monitor their investments. We all want the best for our children, yet we are faced today with a huge public health problem which our government seems to refuse to face adequately. The information is out there and openly available. And this is what we, as parents and citizens can each do in our individual and daily lives to make things change. Have you heard, as I have, that our children today will most likely live 5 years less than the current generation of adults today? Does this information shock and dismay you? It makes me feel incredibly sad to think about this.
The quality of our drinking water in this country is abysmal. The water is full of pesticides, toxic residues from prescription drugs, a variety of plastics, heavy metals, and countless other highly toxic substances which transform our hormones, our DNA, which cause infertility, and which are too many in number and quantity for our liver to filter. There are toxins in our air, food, water, and in our homes. These toxins are in part responsible for the obesity epidemic in our country, as the liver enrobes in fat the toxic particles which it cannot directly eliminate. You cannot diet and count calories to lose this weight. And if you do lose the fat, the toxins will spread directly into your bloodstream. Without a concerted and regular detox program, you will poison yourself and your family.
As you can see, the ready access to clean and healthy drinking water is just one aspect of public health which our government is not taking on, because big agriculture (farming and raising livestock) are highly subsidized by the federal government. Legislation has been recently passed permitting the use of pesticides contained in Agent Orange to protect GMO crops. And the Senate will be voting soon on the DARK ACT, to keep us consumers in the dark as to whether products contain GMOs or not. You can sign a petition here to show that you do not want this legislation passed.
The government in our country has also refused to ban the use of antibiotics in feedlot farming (CAFOs – Confined Agricultural Farming Operations). Many countries around the world, including China and Russia, have banned the use of many chemicals and antibiotics considered dangerous to public health which we use routinely in America. How does that make you feel? Do you still feel that our government would be overstepping its boundaries and being a “nanny state” if it banned the use of most pesticides and antibiotics? How would you feel if our government stopped supporting Big Agriculture, stopped subsidizing these gigantic farms which don’t feed people really…they produce corn and grain which are primarily used to produce bio-fuels and to feed the long and silent suffering billions of cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys, and sheep who live in deplorable conditions which amount to the torture of concentration camps? What if our government used those same funds to support local, traditional and organic farms which produce real food, which don’t need to use antibiotics or pesticides? What if some of that money was used to educate the public on nutrition? Would that be removing some of our freedoms or contributing to them?
I believe that as individuals we can make a difference. We can read from as many sources as possible, online, from books, magazines, and newspapers. We can meet with people who are experts and join groups of responsible citizens. We need to cherish our freedom to do all of these things and make sure that we vote, sign petitions, contact our elected officials about issues we care about. We have a big impact as individuals in this land of capitalism by what we choose to purchase at the stores, online, and at open markets…and what we decide not to buy. We do have a voice, and many are not making use of their voices fully. Mark Bittman, in his book (which I highly recommend!) “A Bone to Pick”, says that the biggest impact we can make for the environment and for public (and personal health) is to eat less meat. That’s right: EAT LESS MEAT. Eat real food; avoid processed foods and sugars. Real food consists of fruits, vegetables, and foods made simply and traditionally from very few ingredients.
He’s not saying you have to be a vegan, though that is good too. But just make good choices. If you want to eat meat and poultry, choose high quality organic products. The animals are treated better. They are given pastures in which to graze, as intended by nature. They see the sun and feel the air on their skins. Nature is full of wisdom (as apparently, even as part of Nature, we humans seem to be often lacking!). Traditional humans and traditional farming systems, developed over thousands of years are a fine and complex system of interdependence between the cycles of nature, and the needs of animals and humans. These small operations produce sufficient quantities of food, and would feed much larger numbers of people in a healthier manner than do the huge CAFOs and industrial farms. And the manure produced by these healthy animals is not toxic waste, as that produced by the billions of animals living in this country each day. We simply don’t know how to dispose of this waste, and it is contaminating our soil and water.
Back to the “Nanny State” and collective responsibility in public health. As Mark Bittman points out in “A Bone to Pick”, there are three major players in the public health game: You (the consumer), the federal government (the FDA, the EPA, etc.), and the big corporate players (Big Food, Big Agriculture, CAFOS, pharmaceutical companies, chemical companies). It is clear that today, the hugely powerful corporate lobbies pay our elected officials billions of dollars to support their campaigns so they can pass their own agendas. It is clear that Big Business has no interest in investing in our children, in the future of America as a land (environmental issues), and cares nothing for public health. Billions of dollars that could be used to clean up our water, contribute to our education system, which is failing, and generally serve the public in so many ways.
Big Business and conservatives in this country are self-serving. They pretend to support personal freedoms and they condemn the “Nanny State” as taking away those freedoms. Don’t let them fool you. If you do use your personal freedom to educate yourself, you will find that these conservatives care nothing for you or for our collective future as a people and as a nation. They care nothing about God or nature, as they claim to. There is no love in their strategies, only manipulation. With freedom comes great responsibility, and these individuals have been given (or taken) much power. Yet they are not being held accountable for that power, and they are not using their power with wisdom for the greater good of our people.
We are all accountable, and if we value our personal freedoms, as I do, then you also need to take responsibility and think carefully about what you want for your children’s future…what you want for the future of America, for our environment and the legacy that you want to leave to the world.
Our government represents the people of the United States of America. Our government is supposed to be the collective voice of what represents the best interests of all Americans. We are a diverse people composed of many ethnicities, of many religious beliefs, ideas, and family styles. Our diversity doesn’t mean we should be divided by the single greatest issue that this country has ever faced. We are failing our children by not giving them an adequate foundation for their lives and a healthy environment in which to live. All people want to give this to their children, and our government needs to stand up to Big Business and refuse their campaign contributions. Our elected officials need to be held accountable to our needs, not to those of Big Business, who represent a very small minority of the population, and who pay very little taxes.
We are the tax-payers. We are the people. Our government is not being a “Nanny State” if it stands up to the 1%. It is being our collective voice. And we need to stand up as individuals and scream (again and again): NO MORE!!!! Our government can only be our voice if we stand up, if we demonstrate and refuse to be manipulated. In a true democracy, the voice of the people is the voice of government, and we can never be too passive. We need to constantly be vigilant and inform ourselves about the issues which are important to us.
American citizens have allowed Big Business to strip away the rights and privileges that so many struggled to achieve…for so long. We have allowed Big Business to take away pension plans, to threaten our much needed Social Security system. We have allowed Big Business to pollute our water supply, to torture our animals and create huge threats to public health in the form of antibiotic resistant bacteria for which we possess no cure. Think about the epidemics which will most likely be coming soon. We have allowed Big Business to take away our peace of mind. We have allowed Big Business to take over healthcare and to charge exorbitant amounts of money for services which should be available to all at affordable rates. We have also allowed Big Business and financial institutions to reap huge profits, increase prices for goods and services to consumers while wages stagnate. We have all been very passive while Big Business has all but taken away the right of most workers to have a voice as a union member. We have stood by while Big Business has passed legislation allowing employers to fire their employees at will, with no good reason. Basically, we have allowed conservatives and self-serving narcissists to take away all of the protections which give honest working people peace of mind and which provide much needed stability in a society.
Stability is necessary in society, and chaos, which is the opposite of stability, will soon ensue if we don’t take action soon. We have experienced the recent recessions and personally have born witness to the chaos that comes from non-regulation of our financial systems who continue to speculate on and profit from our passivity. WE, AS CITIZENS, SUFFER WHEN DEREGULATION ALLOWS BIG BANKS AND BIG BUSINESS TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT. They do not suffer, they profit. We, as individuals, need to do our part. We need to speak up, and we need to inform ourselves. We need to stop listening to the propaganda that is being constantly fed to us by the media. Use the mind that was given to you at birth, and use the freedom that we enjoy as Americans to speak up for yourself, for your children. Don’t be passive!!!!
Our government is not separate from us, and it is our responsibility to keep our government honest. We have recently seen how outspoken individuals have made a difference in the recent passage of Supreme Court legislation to legalize gay marriage. This should have happened long ago, but the main point is that by consistently and patiently working to have their voices heard, LGBT couples are now beginning to enjoy equality in the right to marry and provide security to their partners from which all married couples benefit.
Another example is the Black Lives Matter movement. Institutionalized racism runs so deeply in the fabric of our society, minds, and hearts, and the descendants of slavery in America have continued to suffer terribly, often patiently. By speaking up, their voices are heard. We spend billions each year incarcerating primarily young black men because there is no political will to end poverty and to provide quality education, housing, and respect to millions of African-American citizens. Yes, we all need to take responsibility for our own lives. But to accept that our penal system is run by corporations who benefit from the endless suffering of millions of citizens? That is apartheid. It is ugly, unjust, and needs to be abolished. We need to speak up and demand that that money be invested in the education of those children. We can teach people how to inform themselves, and we can all help to create better opportunities for equal access to quality food and housing. Many poor people in this country suffer from lack of access to healthcare, from malnutrition, and from allergies and diseases caused by poor quality housing and social insecurity. Many people do not realize that poverty is extremely stressful, and that many Americans work very hard at low paying jobs and suffer terrible moral anguish at still not being able to provide properly for their families or to have anything left to save for a rainy day. How does that make us the wealthiest country in the world?
Our government is us, and it needs to provide an umbrella of security and to guarantee stability for all citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity, religious belief, or sexual orientation. In order to accomplish this, we each must be alert to what is occurring in our society each day. We must make wise choices for ourselves which benefit everyone. We must stop thinking and acting only for ourselves. We are the government. We are the people. There is no “Nanny State”. There is only propaganda, which, like in a totalitarian system, tries to silence our voices. Like in Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451”, the people are brainwashed by reality shows, by the media. Culture becomes taboo, and the educated are feared and purged. Is this the kind of world we want to co-create? Do you value democracy? Do you value freedom? If you do value freedom, then speak up. With freedom comes great responsibility.
Our government will provide great leadership and protections for us if we demand it. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is proposing to make many changes in our collective favor if we are ready for them. We can provide a better world and better lives for our children. And we can cocreate this world with our leadership. Stand up! Speak up! We can do it together!