Opponents of such policies use the term in their advocacy against what they consider as uninvited and damaging state meddling in social affairs. The nanny state burdens people with high taxes and numerous government regulations to totally control our lives and make us more dependant on government, in its quest for more power. In practice, it assumes the citizenry is stupid and that intrusive legislation is mandatory to protect people from themselves.
The term can refer to:
1. public health interventions such as disease surveillance, quarantines, mandatory or government-subsidized vaccinations, food labeling regulations, school lunch programs, and water fluoridation
2. consumer protectionism that removes or controls otherwise free choices such as helmet and seatbelt laws, anti-smoking laws, eating and drinking laws, high taxes on junkfood, and other laws regarding personal choice
3. regulation and intervention of national economic and social policies.
The nanny state is criticized by Conservatives and libertarians, who object to excessive legislation and restrictions to citizens free-choice, to protect people from the obvious consequences of their stupid actions. Liberals, on the other hand, have used the term to describe the state as being excessive in its protections of businesses and the business class —protections made against the public good, and the good of consumers.
Nanny-state actions and legislations: consumer product warning labels, mandatory helmet and seatbelt laws, bans on public smoking (to the point of even banning it in your own home or in the car), cell-phone restrictions while driving, high taxes on junk food, laws against recreational drug use, gun control, a legal smoking or drinking age, censorship (FCC), workfroce safety regulations (OSHA), laws against cock fighting or dog fighting, consumer product regulations, laws regulating performance-enhancing drugs of athletes, and having to have a license to baby-sit, to name a few.
A common criticism of nanny state policies is that they are less concerned with the welfare of citizens, than with preventing litigation and promoting the careers of politicians.