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Our nanny state mentality
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Perhaps if the people paid attention to what their government leaders were saying and doing and called them on some of their actions, we'd have a government that served us rather than lead us around as if we had dog collar around the neck and expect us to bark on command.

I still believe the power is still in the people's hands. The problem is, the people are asleep, turned off and tuned out.

When Congress tried to give amnesty to millions who broke our immigration laws, a vast majority rose to their feet and rattled the doors of congressional offices. The result was that the "amnesty bill" was canned. The Bush White House has been called on to do something about illegal immigration for years without action. Now there are presidential candidates who are advocating tougher immigration laws to crack down on those who disregard our borders.

Government can and will respond when people uprise. But government can and will get out of hand if the people don't check up on them.

In many cases, government has overreached its authority from what our Founding Fathers intended. Case in point: Recently the city of Sacramento outlawed smoking in its 211 city parks. Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy took credit for this ban, saying as a city officials it was her responsibility to protect children. That mantra sounds almost noble, but wait. Elected officials are responsible for the raising of our children? Not in my opinion. Parents are responsible for looking after the well-being of their children, not the nanny state.

I am not a smoker, have never been, never will be. But things are getting ridiculous when cities outlaw outdoor smoking. Some cities are actually talking about outlawing smoking inside of cars and private residences.

Science is pretty clear that second-smoke is unheathy. But if someone is smoking outside in a park, you can move if you don't like it. Or you can ask the smoker to move along. The smoke is going to quickly dissipate into the air. It's not contained to a room. And no quick exposure to second-hand smoke is going to kill anyone.

I understand the concerns about lung cancer. I have had many older people in my family - who got hooked when smoking was fashionable - die from lung cancer. I don't know anyone who died of lung cancer from living with a smoker. All those who died in my family were active smokers.

Granted, I have appreciated the indoor smoking ban. I recall going to see movies in downtown Modesto as a kid in the 1960s and being choked out by a cloud of cigarette smoke. I even got burned by a man's glowing butt while in line at the concession stand. We have virtually gotten rid of smoking in public places indoors, thank you. But now we want to take away a person's liberty to light up outside?

Some coastal cities have banned smoking on beaches. They claim that it's because the butts are being tossed onto the beach. What if a smoker wanted to smoke and had a baggie to carry around his butts?

This nanny state mentality is everywhere. Take for example our governor, who wants the state to fight for the ban on violent video games. A federal court ruled in August that the California law was unconstitutional.

The governor said that "we protect our children from buying inappropriate movies and ought to be able to protect them from buying inappropriate video games as well."

My teen son was quick to comment that it was Schwarzenegger himself who made millions in films that displayed violence and in which he used the F-word, which many impressionable kids watch. Again, the parents should have control if their kids watch a Terminator movie.

I don't play video games of any sort but I grow tired of this nanny state mentality. Since when is it the state's responsibility to protect kids from inappropriate video games? Isn't that the job of parents?

Citizens need to be very careful believing the mantra that government needs to protect children. People have heard it enough and accept it as legitimate. The unthinking masses go along with it hook, line and sinker. The truth is that parents - and society in general - has a responsibility to youth, not the government.

Government needs to empower parents, not usurp their powers so that parents' can shirk their responsibilities.

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