Some new ideas for ‘Nanny Bills’

Public Affairs Consultant specializing in Issue Advocacy and Strategic Communications

While there have always been "nanny bills" to address the multitude of cultural wrongs in our society, the number appears to have increased in recent years.

The California Legislature has considered several such bills since last year that address some important issues, but should probably have been amended, including:

  • Smoking (both legal and illegal cigarettes I assume) in vehicles with children and is now the law. I’d actually vote for this bill even though I doubt it will inspire anyone thoughtless enough to smoke in front of children in a car to comply with this law.
  • 17-18 year olds using electronic devices while driving, and is also a new law. Why just kids? In my experience, younger folks are able to multi-task better than adults!
  • Spanking children under 5 years old. From my experience as a parent and a recipient of spanking, it doesn’t really work as a behavioral tool. But it might work on parents who insist on taking their obnoxious kids to places and then ignore them while the rest of our outings to restaurants and movies are ruined.
  • Banning trans fats in school cafeterias and restaurants. As long as lard is still legal, what good will it do to ban trans fats?
  • Spaying and neutering all pets under 4 years old. Again proving that celebrities are smarter than the rest of us, both Ben Stein and Bob Barker support this bill.
  • Phasing out the sale of incandescent light bulbs in California. Seriously, I think this bill, which earned the author the nickname of "Light bulb Lloyd" and was amended to establish an efficiency standard as opposed to a simple ban, got a bad rap.
  • Requiring all high school graduates to register to vote. With high drop out rates, I doubt this bill would have had much of an impact on voter registrations, and I would guess that most high school grads are already aware of the concept of voting-at least one would hope.

So, while we are on the topic of so-called Nanny Bills, why don’t we propose some bills to correct some really annoying behaviors, such as:

  • Mandating that all holiday lights be removed by Valentine’s Day. (I am being generous to two of my neighbors).
  • Prohibiting radio stations from playing Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin except at night.
  • Banning the wearing of white clothes after Labor Day.

Hey, all this talk about somehow correcting annoying behaviors is fun even if it won’t in fact significantly modify human behavior.

To be sure, it is a lot more fun than discussing more important issues such as $20 billion budget deficit, droughts, energy and others! And explains why there are so many "nanny bills," because it is more fun to focus on those bills and because the media can cover them without having to acquire much knowledge about the legislative process and public policy.

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