What Nanny Doesn’t Want You to Know

Nanny state regulators got it all wrong back in 1977 when the feds placed a warning label on the sugar substitute saccharine. They said it could cause cancer, but their underlying science was flimsy. It took them more than 20 years to admit to that mistake and remove saccharine from the list of carcinogens.

And federal health officials have long warned us all to cut back on salt because they say it might contribute to heart disease. Most people trust this advice, but it’s most likely not true for everyone. Salt appears to be a problem largely for individuals with hypertension, but not so much for the rest of us. Those of us who like salting our veggies and other things to make them more palatable, probably would like to know the whole story.

Yet Nanny statists at National Institutes of Health (NIH) don’t want to give us the whole story. They apparently refuse to release research that might contradict their warnings. Since 2003, that data has been subject to a Data Quality Act petition–a process that is supposed to ensure that the federal government doesn’t base policy on faulty science. Accordingly, regulators are supposed to release data when petitioned, but they usually don’t comply with the law, which lacks a good enforcement mechanism. The feds have managed to keep this research a secret for a long time. That way they can set whatever policies and recommendations they please–without any accountability.

In this case, they start by urging everyone to cut back on salt. Then local and state governments may start regulating salt based on such specious recommendations. As those laws grow, the feds might even step in. Such is the progression of many nanny state regulations.

The recent Climategate scandal underscores this point. The absence of scientific transparency gives regulators free reign. Then regulators and their collaborators can finesse the science in a way that best suits their regulatory aims while concealing inconvenient findings. Personal liberties and economic freedoms are eventually wiped out along with the facts. Bureaucrats end up more powerful, and life for everyone else is less palatable.

Photo attribution: Duchamp’s photostream on flickr.