Intrusive government policies in Europe and recently the United States, designed to legislate morality and social behavior, assuming the state knows best what constitutes such, in the goal of essentially protecting people from the obvious consequences of their own stupid and destructive behaviors. Therefore, the central government believes it has the comprehensive and moral duty to protect the citizenry from itself. A derogatory term used in reference to intrusive political policies where the government has an excessive desire to govern and control society in the name of “protection.” When the central government of countries goes from being a governing body to a regulatory power and social caretaker, that engages in social protectionism and economic intervensionism, to control you from the womb to the tomb and instituionalizes them as common practice.
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 regulation...
Any nation that has the government "holding the hand" of its citizens by levying lots of taxes, having trade protection, and having many economic regulations. It is used very pejoratively by people that believe in freer markets, private institutions, and tax cuts.
Person A: I advocate for socialized health care. It will benefit us all.
Person B: Nah man, I don't want the U.S. to become a nanny state!