We throw around the term “nanny state” a lot, but to put in plain English, nanny-state regulation differ from other types of governance in that that they attempt to regulate non-criminal private behavior and decision-making.
During the last half year we have seen a clear example of nanny state regulations run amok has been in the case of alcoholic energy drinks like Four Loko and Joose. Regulators are attempting to ban the product-not for minors, who are already banned from purchasing alcoholic drinks, but for adults. Why? The rationale used by many lawmakers is that these drinks eventually lead imbibers to engage in illegal behavior like driving drunk.
“Proponents of the bill also said people are more likely to drive after consuming alcoholic energy drinks because the caffeine makes them feel less drunk.”
Well, one could say the same thing about drinking coffee after a sleepless night; people are more likely to attempt to drive after drinking coffee because they feel less tired. There is an unlimited number of dumb choices people make that ultimately result in their violating the law; but acting stupid should not be a crime (there aren’t enough prisons in the world to house that many offenders).
South Carolina is poised to become the fifth state to ban the sale of alcoholic energy drinks. Though FDA has already basically pulled the products from production, lawmakers in the state argue that the products are still available for sale — and they want that to end immediately.
Rep. Laurie Funderburk’s bill would force stores to have to dump their stock of the alcoholic energy drinks or face fines of up to $500 and imprisonment for six months if they are caught selling the products.
Opponent’s of Funderburk’s bill rightly claim that the measure is an invasion into private citizens’ lives, and that consumers will continue to mix their own versions of alcoholic energy drinks, such as the popular bar cocktail “Red Bill and vodka.” But Republican Rep. Thad Viers said that the pre-mixed drinks are more dangerous and will result in “more deaths on the highway”.
The ironic thing is that pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks are mostly consumed at college house-parties where most attendees walk home after or sleep at the location of the party. On the other hand, Red Bull and vodka drinks are usually consumed in clubs, where patrons are more likely to need to drive home.
Young adults will continue to make poor decisions and some will end up breaking the law and endangering others’ lives-they should be punished. But let’s not punish responsible adults and business people by making a futile attempt to prevent youngsters from making dumb decisions.