Home > Society > Maybe we need a Nanny State after all

Maybe we need a Nanny State after all

In the parking lot of my Nashville hotel, there’s a sign on every light pole disclaiming the hotel’s refusal of liability for damaged or stolen or robbed cars. Fair enough. I guess that would be an okay sign. But these signs go a bit further: “Remove valuables – lock car – take keys,” the signs continue. Gee, thanks for the instructions. (Note to self: always take keys! This hotel is onto something!)

It’s easy to blame the hotels — and city governments, and peanut-butter manufactureers (“WARNING: This product contains peanuts”), and restaurants — for treating their patrons like children, but my hunch is this is a chicken-or-the-egg thing. Companies’ corporate leadership likely doesn’t sit around, as a public service, coming up with ways to instruct their customers on the most mundane, seemingly obvious steps they can take to protect themselves. Instead, it’s likely driven by dumb patrons who have come in screaming frantically from the parking lot, “Help, help! My car is gone! I don’t understand this! I made sure to leave my car unlocked and I even left the keys in the ignition, yet it’s gone! You guys owe me a car! This is some kinda bulls–t!” and then launched a lawsuit in which the prevailing argument was that, hey, there weren’t any signs in the lot warning people to lock their cars.

Enough of that happens, you start to put up signs. You might be thinking right now, “Thanks, Cap’n Obvious,” but you know you’ve thought to yourself upon seeing such signs, “How stupid does Management think we are?” The answer is, every bit as stupid as the last lawsuit that cleaned them out of a few million in legal fees. It’s madness out there.

So maybe the Nanny State is a reaction to a people and culture whining and screaming for someone to tell them at every turn what to do next. Or a culture of personal irresponsibility in which everyone is a victim. Perhaps the Nanny State hasn’t been imposed from above, but demanded from below. So, fellow conservatives — is the problem our leaders, or is it our neighbors?

On my way back into the hotel a few minutes ago, I noticed half a dozen cigarette butts littered — get this — around the base of what should be a universally recognized (by smokers, at least) cigarette disposal (you know, the long-necked thingies with the wide-based receptacles). Then I noticed there wasn’t a sign telling smokers what to do next with their filthy cigarettes — and suddenly the mess made perfect sense.

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Categories: Society
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