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A woman who looks after children unrelated to her, and usually tries to educate them and make them wash behind their ears, is often called a nanny. This name seems to have arisen from the conflation of a nanny goat, and the grandmothers (nannas) who once took this role. When it became illegal to beat or starve grandmothers into raising a second or third generation of obnoxious children, many people were forced to hire women of limited means to do the job. This changed the whole image of the nanny, especially when the woman was rather attractive.
edit The No-Nanny State
However, this article is concerned with the Nanny State, not the state of being a nanny. Throughout history, those who have been lucky, smart or savage enough to gain control over other people have tried to legitimize and perpetuate that control by telling the controlled that the situation was actually good for them. Traditionally this involved gathering a group of supporters who were at least as savage but not as smart as the ruler, fixing them up with just enough beer and skittles to keep them onside, and allowing them to vent any frustrations they had on anyone who disagreed with the ruler. This method survives in some places today, which shows that you may not be able to fool all of the people all of the time, but you can beat the shit out of some of them.
edit The Pre-Nanny State
Other places have moved on after realizing that more money can be made by selling things to middle class people than pinching pennies from poor people. There is also the worrying fact that if the poor masses successfully revolt, their rulers will very likely be fed to the domestic animals in small pieces. Leaders who are voted out can always lobby for a well paid job in the UN. Again, we are not here to catalogue the rise and economic successes of democracy and individual enterprise, but to enlighten those persistent enough to continue reading about the decline of that endeavour.
edit The Proto-Nanny StateThe populace of democratic societies became more interested in the pursuit of their own goals rather than survival while working for someone else's goals. They also became less interested in appeals to march off in attempts to trash another society in the hope of snitching their valuables and perhaps a few hot nannies. Those who were elected to high office had to find another way to stay there. Like most other human activities, this led to lots of trial and error. Some reverted to the traditional systems, gathering a group of supporters as above and declaring themselves rulers for life. Others made great promises that could not be kept, and had to keep surfing on more and more outlandish promises until they were dumped. A few of this motley crowd of hucksters noticed that there were substantial numbers of people who had a beef about something. In fact, if you looked hard enough, just about everybody had a beef about what someone else was doing. Someone else was always making too much or too little money, working too hard or not hard enough, drinking excessively or - well - you get the idea. Now if one couldn't get the average clod into a frenzy about beating up on the people across the border, how about turning their natural animosity toward their fellow countrymen (okay, and women)? As was obvious from the condition of those places that had tried civil war as a means of government, allowing them to fight it out just made taxation more difficult and the presidential palace too dangerous.
edit There's money in Discontent
Suppose you just legislated against the things of which some people disapproved, like getting from here to there faster than somebody else? Why there were endless possibilities for turning the petty envy of the masses into regulations that could be presented as being good for the people (see traditional methods above). The very best thing is that the fines collected from those who ignored the regulations were just as valuable as the money extracted by taxation. While pretty much everyone dislikes taxation, you only piss off those who are fined with a fine, and with any luck that makes them mad at someone else...
edit Don't worry, we're almost there
One of the things that was tried in the Great Experiment To Remain In Power was to promise to fix people's personal problems. Now of course I can't do much about your personal problems and neither can the government, but I admit that and so have no hope of convincing the average busybody to vote for me. The Average Busybody is convinced that they know what is good for others (see Exalted Busybodies below). As they are often very discontented, there is a good case to be made that they don't even know what is good for themselves, but you try convincing them of that. The ability to pick the right Busybody and translate their finger-wagging tirade into legislation has defined generations of successful politicians. The best bets are those Busybodies who wish to prevent people from doing dangerous things, no matter how much fun they are, or how good for the person they may be in the long run. After all, John Maynard Keynes' best line was probably, "In the long run, we are all dead".
edit Exalted BusybodiesThe final ingredient in the recipe for the Nanny State is a Busybody who rises above the petty interfering of telling some people what is good for them and believes (or at least appears to believe) that he or she knows what is good for everyone. When an Exalted Busybody manages to achieve public office, they will attempt to prevent as many people as possible from doing what the Busybody thinks they should not do. The Exalted Busybody is usually someone who did well at school and has transmuted the disappointment of not having their personal problems solved by this into megalomania.
edit Finally, the Nanny State
Here we are! The conjunction of people who expect the government to solve their personal problems, Exalted Busybodies who are sympathetic to this unrealistic hope and the fact that many governments have unwisely promised to pay the medical bills of the populace fit like three fingers in an asshole to produce the Nanny State. Uncomfortable, perhaps, but there it is. Divide et impera works as well here as anywhere else. Whatever it is you don't like, it is simple to start a campaign to get it regulated, restricted, or if you are really angling for some public award, banned. Although it turns the cooperation upon which democracy depends into a contest of voting blocs, it gets people elected.
edit Addicted to Nanny
A fundamental aspect of addiction to anything is that it makes you feel better, for a while. So it is with the Nanny State. Like so many things, once you have begun, it is very hard to stop. Did making bicyclists wear helmets make you feel good? Why not try to make them wear day-glo vests? Or stop eating tasty food of which you disapprove and start eating health food? Or stop farting, as recently attempted in an African country with nothing much better to do. I think there might be a PhD in this, so it's time to allow the reader to move on while I get going on the lit review.
edit Sigmund Freud on the Nanny Complex
Der nanny ist der symbol of der mutter figure of our dreams. Zis mutter figure ist der subconscious trying to overcome der conscious inhibition of der Nanny Complex und release der Id. Zis Will to Annoy, if released, transforms der Oedipus Complex into der Odysseus Complex, in which der Id ist lashed to der mast of der Ship of Dreams und forced to listen to Sirens of Orgiastic Pleasure without being able to approach der Ideal Nanny. Zis leads to a fixation at der Nasal Stage und a life of being a snotty child. But you vould never listen to me anyway, so haf your nanny if you vish.
edit The UN as the Uber-Nanny
The United Nations, after many years of confusion about its mission, has realized that the best way to stay funded is to make the same sort of nannyhood statements that Exalted Busybodies make to get elected. This may be due to the number of Exalted Busybodies who, when their run in politics has come to an end, wangle a position in the UN. The effect on the world is much the same as the effect of the ordinary nanny on children. They learn to agree, do what they were going to do anyway, and lie about it.
edit The Nanny as a symbol of affluence and all the other things you don't like
If you happen to dislike affluence and all those things that are associated with success, you can hardly do better than to use the nanny as a symbol of this conglomerate. Are you a retarded redneck who proclaims that women should be chained to the stove during the day and the bed at night? Are you a retro-feminist who wants to free all women from anything related to their reproductive function? You can join your voices to the clamor of those opposed to nannies, enjoyable automobiles, liveable houses, delicious food and other things that success can buy.