How Dare She

by Don Boudreaux on March 23, 2008

in Nanny State

I just read Ryan Lizza’s March 17th New Yorker essay on Hillary Clinton.  That essay inspired this letter:

I’m outraged that Hillary
Clinton promises, if elected president, to help people (in her words)
"quit smoking, to get more exercise, to eat right, to take their
vitamins" ("The Iron Lady," March 17).  Perhaps I’m overreacting
because I buried my mother on Wednesday, but neither Uncle Sam nor Mrs.
Clinton is my parent.  That role was performed remarkably well and
lovingly by the persons who had responsibility for it: my father and
late mother.  I, like any self-respecting adult, resent beyond words
the impertinence of any stranger presuming to possess the moral
authority to intrude into my affairs.

To my own dying day, I
will live by the creed instilled in me by my parents: My life is my
own, and just as I have no right (or wish) to meddle in the affairs of
others, no one – regardless of how exalted her status or how large her
electoral majority – has the right to meddle in mine.

Donald J. Boudreaux

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Sam Grove March 23, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Outraged, but not surprised.

FreedomLover March 23, 2008 at 1:46 pm

OH come on, 99% of the people want the nanny state. The 1% of us who don't should just assume the position.

tarran March 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm

There is a great deal of irony inherent in being lectured on morality by a person whose personal life is so messed up and whose professional life is accompanied by suspicious whiffs of corruption.

I strongly suggest that Mrs Clinton pay more attention to her own affairs and stop poking her nose into those of others.

Anyway, it's all academic; the only way that Hillary Clinton could get the nomination would be if either Senator Obama comitted a huge gaffe of the live-boy/dead-girl variety, or if he was felled by an assasin's bullet.

Given the near guarantee of a Democrat victory in November, Sen Clinton faces another 8 years before she can run for the presidency again. And she'll be starting out with far less goodwill than she has now.

I think that this is it for her. She'll stay in the senate the rest of her life, but that will be the highest office she holds.

David Johnson March 23, 2008 at 2:14 pm

What a weird idea, that politicians inept in running their own lives should be put in charge of ours.

Justin Ross March 23, 2008 at 2:31 pm

I'm sorry for the passing of your mother, Dr. Boudreaux. My best wishes to you and your family.

Max March 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm

It takes an idiot to run a village.

If that's not true then why are so many idiots trying to run the village?

David White March 23, 2008 at 4:25 pm

"Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which…would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in a perpetual state of childhood: it is well content that people should rejoice, provided they think only of rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances; what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?" — Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America," 1832

Methinks March 23, 2008 at 4:30 pm

OH come on, 99% of the people want the nanny state. The 1% of us who don't should just assume the position. – Freedomlover

How about this: 99% of the people want the nanny state to control everybody else's choices while maintaining their right to decide for themselves. The result? 100% of us will assume the position.

FreedomLover March 23, 2008 at 4:33 pm

methinks – that's true. in the end we all assume the "soap in the shower" position. However 99% are hypocrites. I maintain that I'm not a hypocrite.

Methinks March 23, 2008 at 4:55 pm

However 99% are hypocrites. I maintain that I'm not a hypocrite.

Yeah, well you're only 1%, so you don't count. "We the people" decided you need to bend over, spread 'em and stop complaining. That's the society we live in and society has decided. You're not afraid of The People, are ya', Freedomlover?



FreedomLover March 23, 2008 at 5:02 pm

methinks – I know ducky doesn't mind the societal screwjob but I do.

brotio March 23, 2008 at 6:09 pm

My condolences, Professor, on your loss.

Pop culture is obsessed with minding other people's business. The fact that Dr Phil is even on the air is bothersome, more so to me because people want to be ON the show than because people watch it.

The busybodies are especially prominent when it comes to health care. They insist on picking up the tab for a total stranger's medical expenses so that they'll have the power of telling that total stranger what he can eat, drink, or smoke, and that he must carry this kind of insurance; or as Methinks succinctly put it, "bend over, spread 'em and stop complaining."

Unlike my parents, who (by the affirmative act of creating me) assumed a liability for me until I could sustain myself and therefor had a right to say, "no, you can't do that as long as I'm paying your bills", the busybodies have taken it upon themselves to assume liability for me despite my direct request that they mind their own f***ing business.

I expect the Strawman Slayer to weigh in soon and tell us that bending over won't be so bad because the government has the best grease.

Methinks March 23, 2008 at 6:29 pm

methinks – I know ducky doesn't mind the societal screwjob but I do.

Never mind, Freedomlover. If you think think this is a societal screwjob, just wait until you realize that the next bank that will need to be bailed out is the Federal Reserve, after it drives itself to insolvency by getting stuck with all that crud it's taking as "collateral" these days and the only ones who will do that is you and me – taxpayers who didn't take out mortgages that we couldn't pay back and didn't lend to people with no income and no credit score. (one long sentence, eh?)



Well, then. We The People will have to break your kneecaps and send you for re-education so that you can finally get through your thick skull the greatness of our Glorious Cause.



FreedomLover March 23, 2008 at 6:30 pm

brotio – it's all for "our own good" of course. Rugged individualism is evil and selfish. It must waste too many resources, as we know from good "social planners" that stuffing everyone into some high-rise apartment tower and packing them into subway trains like sardines is THE BEST WAY TO GO.

FreedomLover March 23, 2008 at 6:30 pm

methinks – I take it you listen to Michael Savage?

Methinks March 23, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Dr. Boudreaux, although we may have many friends in life, we only have one mother. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Methinks March 23, 2008 at 6:32 pm

No, I don't. I've heard the name but I don't really know who he is.

brotio March 23, 2008 at 6:39 pm

"…stuffing everyone into some high-rise apartment tower…" – F.L.


That'll get us used to that one person-per-square-meter that's just around the corner! :p

brotio March 23, 2008 at 6:41 pm

"…stuffing everyone into some high-rise apartment tower…" – F.L.


That'll get us used to that one person-per-square-meter that's just around the corner! :p

James Hanley March 23, 2008 at 6:59 pm

"Given the near guarantee of a Democrat victory in November,"

Probable, but not nearly guaranteed. Both Obama and Clinton have weaknesses that can be exploited, including (unfortunately) their race and sex, respectively. And there are mutterings among blacks that they'll sit it out if Clinton gets the nomination, and among women that they'll sit out of Obama gets the nomination (although I think the seriousness of that is debatable).

McCain, on the other hand, has always been more popular among moderates than among conservatives, so he has a real chance to win the moderates who generally determine the victor.

And campaigns matter. Obama looks like a great campaigner, Clinton less so. McCain, neither bad nor great. But if the race is at all close, the better campaigner will win. Case in point, John Kerry's very close loss in '04, after running a hilariously pathetic campaign.

Methinks March 23, 2008 at 7:01 pm

stuffing everyone into some high-rise apartment tower

And by "everyone" you mean everyone and by "high-rise" tower, you mean ONE high rise tower.

That'll get us used to that one person-per-square-meter that's just around the corner


There was a law on the books in the Soviet Union that no FAMILY had the RIGHT to more than NINE SQUARE METERS of living space – regardless of the family's size. I'm sure the knowledge of the precedent for this sort of thing will make you sleep easy tonight [dripping sarcasm].

brotio March 23, 2008 at 7:24 pm


Every time I read anecdotes about how the Dictatorships of the Proletariat in the USSR, Cuba, and North Korea feel about the proletariat, I'm grateful that I was born here.

Thankyou for sharing your experiences. I'm happy that you escaped and honored that you chose to be my countryman.

FreedomLover March 23, 2008 at 7:37 pm

methinks – My parents are from the former USSR and lived in those drab concrete government supplied buildings. It's a huge influence on their world view.

Sam Grove March 23, 2008 at 9:50 pm

In the '80s documentary on Swedish socialism, Promise of Spring (PBS), one of the items noted was that old people were situated in highrise apartments and the government paid high school students to visit them.

FreedomLover March 23, 2008 at 10:09 pm


That's just so uplifting.

Gil March 23, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Heh heh heh. Didn't take too long before the Soviet-conspiracies came out of the woodwork did it? Actually one good question muirgeo posed is how are poor lil Libertarians going to get out of their statist quandary – find their own place, live with the contradictions, overthrow the oppressive regime?

brotio March 23, 2008 at 11:38 pm


So you're the one telling us that bending over won't be so bad, because the government has the best grease.

We're probably not getting out of this statist quandary any time soon. At least not until things get worse than they are right now. We realize that you socialists LIKE our money and feel entitled to it, and that at this point in time you outnumber us.

So, we'll keep talking, keep warning that socialism eventually self-destructs (and hoping that Americans will learn this by observation instead of following France blindly into the abyss), and keep teaching our children that theft is wrong whether done by outright thieves, or by agents of the state acting for the Gils and Murthaducks who don't have the guts to hold the guns themselves.

Hopefully our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will still be being taught these things, so that when the new-and-improved socialist utopia collapses AGAIN, they'll be ready.

You and Murthaduck and your progeny will be like the baby robins whose parents became catfood: sitting there with your mouths open waiting, waiting, waiting… starving because nobody taught you how to fend for yourselves.

M. Hodak March 24, 2008 at 12:56 am


My condolences.

tiger March 24, 2008 at 6:26 am

Very sorry about your mom Don. Hang in there-we'll all vote in November to keep egalitarian socialists from digging through your underwear drawer.

Methinks March 24, 2008 at 8:57 am

Didn't take too long before the Soviet-conspiracies came out of the woodwork did it?

There are no soviet conspiracies. Are you so brain-dead that you don't know the difference between conspiracy and law?

vidyohs March 24, 2008 at 9:24 am

I too offer my condolences, Don.

Gil March 24, 2008 at 9:27 am

Or should that read 'no conspiracies' only Soviet facts?

vidyohs March 24, 2008 at 10:03 am

"If you protect a man from folly, you will find you have a nation of fools." William Penn

"I will protect each man from folly, and if elected I will lead a nation of fools." Hillary Clinton

Ahhh, such a world it is, that she should not be aware that FDR has already laid that burden on presidents.

Methinks March 24, 2008 at 10:20 am

go look up "conspiracy" in the dictionary, Gil. Then, go look up "law". Try to work it out on your own, if you can.

gappy March 24, 2008 at 10:32 am

It's safe to assume that Clinton is a firm believer in the myth of state paternalism, and she assumes that everyone should quit smoking, and lead a "healthy" lifestyle. However, if I take her words at face value, I am a bit conflicted on this one. Preventative information programs that are not coercitive can be good. Informing about the benefits of safety belts and motorcycle helmets can be very helpful, and it's better than forcing. I am not advocating a priori that diffusing information repays for its costs, but would not rule it out a priori.

save_the_rustbelt March 24, 2008 at 10:49 am

Don, sympathies on the death of your mother.

I have been married to a nurse for three plus decades, so I already hear enough about what is healthy.

Obviously not smoking and losing weight is important, but I already have a fitness coach.

"Hillary will get my potato chips when she pries them from my dead cold hand."

Methinks March 24, 2008 at 10:53 am

gappy, the problem is that wearing a seatbelt is not a big behavioural change while changing eating habits is. How much money has been spent to "educate" the public about healthy eating? Yet, we're still getting fatter. The problem is that even if a government program doesn't work, the government never cuts funding to it. In fact, it's likely the government will throw more money into it. Consider D.A.R.E. – the anti-drug program. The program has done nothing to stem drug use among school-aged children, yet it's still funded because it's "popular" among bureaucrats. Music and sports programs, on the other hand, have been shown to reduce drug use among participating kids (mainly by distracting them and building self-esteem). Those programs have been cut. I just don't think that government can spend money wisely on anything – even information programs.

mick March 24, 2008 at 11:12 am

My deepest condolences for your loss.

FreedomLover March 24, 2008 at 12:47 pm

methinks – I wouldn't have a problem with people's behavior if I didn't have to pay for their medical care. Let the obese idiots keel over and die for all I care. I just don't want to pay for them.

Kevin S. March 24, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Methinks-I think their argument goes something like "Good thing we have that education program/law, otherwise even more people would be fatter…use more drugs…die in crashes, etc."

The Dirty Mac March 24, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Don, I'm very sorry to hear of your loss.

Python March 24, 2008 at 4:48 pm

What Hillary meant was that she is going to charge fit citizens $10k a year for health insurance, and fat citizens $10.2k a year.

That way the fatties will be compelled to make better decisions.

Methinks March 24, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Kevin & FL, I agree with both of you.

Python, don't you mean that Hillary will charge healthy citizens $10.2K and fatties $10K because the healthy citizens owe the fatties? They are rich with health, after all and more able to work. It's important to redistribute wealth to keep things even.

Dompedro March 24, 2008 at 5:36 pm

My condolences.

vidyohs March 24, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Here is a new discovery that explains it all. Pay attention muirduck and Gilduck.

Politics explained.


A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the
heaviest element known to science. Its existence was proven during the
hurricane, gasoline, war and other issues of the last year or two.

The new element has been named **Governmentium**

*Governmentium (Gv)* has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy
neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called mo-rons, which
are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called pe-ons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be
detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into
contact. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that
would normally take less than a second, to take over four days to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of four years. It does not decay,
however, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of
the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact,
Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, as each
reorganization will cause more mo-rons to become neutrons, forming

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium — an element which radiates just as much energy as Governmentium because,though it has only half as many pe-ons, it has twice as many mo-rons.

brotio March 24, 2008 at 10:09 pm

LMAO @ Governmentium!

I'm curious if the same particle can be a mo-ron and a pe-on at the same time? Would that form a un-ion?

vidyohs March 25, 2008 at 6:15 am

Good one brotio!

I think the un-ion is a particle of dark matter that governmentium likes to pretend has no influnce.

Gil March 25, 2008 at 7:11 am

Not to mention 'every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction'. Every time you push non-Libertarian folk into the Socialist camp you go closer the anarcho-Capitalist camp. }>:)

I_am_a_lead_pencil March 25, 2008 at 8:13 am

gappy said:

“Preventative information programs that are not coercitive can be good. Informing about the benefits of safety belts and motorcycle helmets can be very helpful, and it's better than forcing.”

How are any preventative "information programs" not coercive if they are undertaken by government?

A gunman may command that you: "don't eat that doughnut" or he may command that you "give me money to fund information programs." Either way, there is a gun at your head….and "forcing" has taken place. We may prefer one form of "forcing" better than the other – but lets not forget that they are BOTH coercion.

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