Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Babysitting in the Nanny State

Helping out a neighbor has always been a hallmark of American life. From barn-raisings to stump-pullings in the day of the frontier, to keeping an eye on the neighborhood kids, we've always put a premium on being helpful and generous with those living close to us.

At least, until now. seems that it's against the law. At least in the state of Michigan. It seems that our "Nanny State" doesn't like the competition.

A story making the rounds tells the tale of Lisa Synder, a neighborhood mom in suburban Grand Rapids, who was trying to help her neighbors by watching their kids as they wait for the schoolbus. That way, everybody thought, her neighbors could head off for work on time, and her helpfulness could help make everyone feel better about living in such a nice neighborhood. Unfortunately, the State views this as unlicensed "day care"---and has threatened to throw her in jail if she doesn't cease and desist.

Now that the story has hit the airwaves, the politicians are falling over themselves trying to find a way out from under the ridicule. Michigan's beleagured governor, Jennifer Grandholm, has instructed the head of the state's Department of Human Services --- the same agency that threatened the mom with jail --- to "work with the Legislature" to remedy the situation.

This is, of course, a welcome step --- and, given the state's dismal economic state, anything that helps people get to work on time would be applauded by anone with an ounce of sense. Unfortunately, there appears to be no legislation that can require bureaucrats to use common sense...or prevent people wanting to feel important from misusing laws intended to protect people to oppress them, instead. least in these days of instant communications, we're able to see the pratfalls of the policitians as they try to scamble out from under their own sense of self-importance.

Too bad we can't pass a law to make people think.

JEFFREY CAMINSKY, a veteran public prosecutor in Detroit, Michigan, specializes in the appellate practice of criminal law and writes on a wide range of topics. His books include the science fiction adventure novel The Star Dancers, the exciting second volume in the Guardians of Peace-tm series, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the acclaimed Referee’s Survival Guide, a book on soccer officiating. All are published by New Alexandria Press, and are available on Amazon, as well as directly from the publisher.

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