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Keller @ Large: Government Makes A Bad Nanny

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(Photo Illustration by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo Illustration by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Let’s make a quick list together of human behaviors we’re good and sick of and would like to see eliminated.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Dangerous, selfish driving – check.

People who sneeze or cough without covering up – absolutely.

Casual rudeness and public cursing without regard to who is in earshot – no question.

All of those behaviors, it could be argued, are potentially hazardous to your physical or mental health. Just like the obesity and diabetes that is often triggered by consuming excessive amounts of sugar-and-calorie-laden drinks.

Some of those behaviors are the focus of governmental efforts to curb them. Around here the police often try to crack down on bad drivers, with questionable results. And last year Middleborough kicked up a fuss by moving to slap fines on people caught cursing in public.

But the bottom line is, the state is almost never a competent nanny.

Repugnant social behaviors are most effectively regulated by peer pressure, by social norms rejecting them so thoroughly that smoking around others and using racial slurs, to cite two contemporary examples, become ostracized and increasingly rare.

Perhaps New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will take some time to reflect on that fact now that a state supreme court judge has struck down his ban on large, sugary drinks, calling it “arbitrary and capricious” in its application and an illegal overreach of public authority.

Bloomberg had good intentions; obesity and diabetes are major health problems, and it is galling to see unhealthy people slurping away at their mega-gulps, knowing that we the taxpayers will likely get stuck with part of their medical tab.

But as I said, government makes a bad nanny, overbearing, arrogant, and usually inept.

Bloomberg should respect his constituents by lobbying them harder to do the right thing, instead of insulting them and the law by doing the wrong thing.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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