Beware the Nanny State: Neoliberal Ideology and American Health Law
37 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 13, 2019
Like other ideologies, neoliberalism offers a potentially inspiring normative vision and also employs a pointed rhetoric that tells us what to love and what to hate. When neoliberalism turns its attention to health law, it warns us that the nefarious “nanny state” will arrogantly treat us like children. In particular, according to neoliberal thought, laws restricting the size of sugary soft drinks, requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, and mandating graphic warnings on cigarette packages will deny our freedom of choice. In each of these controversies neoliberalism has in fact played an important role in thwarting law reform, much to the detriment of the public’s health. The neoliberal position regarding health law is not so much “right” or “wrong” as it is disturbingly obtuse with regard to the social context and socioeconomic ramifications of contemporary health problems.
Keywords: ideology, ideological rhetoric, neoliberalism, nanny state, health law, sugary soft drinks, motorcycle helmets, cigarette packaging
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