Nanny Nutter

In this week's edi­tion of the River­ward Rant, colum­nist Joe Quigley looks at May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter and the gov­ern­ment's ideas on tax­ing life­style choices.

I’m a smoker, so I’m an idi­ot.

The same way you’re an idi­ot for guzz­ling two-liter bottles of soda all day or swal­low­ing Big Macs whole every night for din­ner.

We’re not be­ing too bright when we pois­on our bod­ies with such garbage, but I don’t mind your stu­pid­ity and you shouldn’t be bothered by mine.

I fig­ure, as long as I’m not blow­ing smoke in your face and you’re not hurl­ing chunks of ham­burger at mine, what we do to our bod­ies shouldn’t mat­ter to any­one.

Un­less we are talk­ing about May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter.

This guy would creep his hand in­to my pock­et and crush my USA Golds, then dump the Pep­si out of my fridge, if he had the chance.

Make no mis­take: Your ever-widen­ing gut and smoker’s cough are on the may­or’s mind right now.

We already know Nut­ter is 0-for-2 in try­ing to levy a tax on soda pur­chases in the city, and might be gear­ing up for yet an­oth­er at­tempt to make bottles of Coke too ex­pens­ive to en­joy.

Nut­ter also is tech­nic­ally the head of Get Healthy Philly, which is part of the fed­er­ally fun­ded Com­munit­ies Put­ting Pre­ven­tion to Work Ini­ti­at­ive (ba­sic­ally a health and well­ness aware­ness pro­gram) and con­trolled by the Phil­adelphia De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health.

One of the stated goals of Get Healthy Philly — lis­ted right there on its Web site — is to in­crease the price of ci­gar­ettes in an ef­fort to keep people from smoking.

Nut­ter and his nan­nies want to make smokes and Cokes too ex­pens­ive to in­dulge in. Ba­sic­ally, they want to raise prices on our stu­pid­ity. The thought is that in­creas­ing the price of ci­gar­ettes would cut down on the num­ber of smokers in Philly.

It sure worked in New York, where you need to re­fin­ance your mort­gage and get a second job to buy a car­ton of Marl­boros.

Now, I have no prob­lem with the gov­ern­ment — city, state or fed­er­al — try­ing to pro­mote good health. I get angry only when politi­cians and bur­eau­crats de­cide they’re go­ing to play nanny, es­pe­cially when the nanny pen­al­izes me for en­joy­ing a bad habit that doesn’t hurt any­one else.

Your body is your prop­erty and you should be able to do what you want with it, even if you’re do­ing something stu­pid.

I mean, if you’re go­ing to go after people for do­ing stu­pid things, why stop there? 

I be­lieve watch­ing real­ity tele­vi­sion and read­ing ju­ven­ile, cheap fic­tion makes people dull and less in­tel­li­gent and is thus a blight on our so­ci­ety, but I’m not about to sup­port a gov­ern­ment ef­fort to raise prices on the Twi­light nov­els.

Let’s say gov­ern­ment nan­nies like the may­or get their way on a smokes-and-Cokes price hike. What’s next? Most fast-food res­taur­ants are un­health­ful places to get your lunch. If you’re a reg­u­lar, chances are good they’ll give you five ex­tra chins and pos­sibly a heart at­tack.

Will the may­or and the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health then de­cide the city would be health­i­er if they jacked up the price of french fries?

You can also just as eas­ily side with crit­ics who tie child­hood obesity to sit­ting and play­ing video games, so why not double the price of a Play­sta­tion?

And what if they set their sights on — God help us all — al­co­hol?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a liber­tari­an or Tea Party act­iv­ist. The gov­ern­ment has a valu­able role in provid­ing good in­form­a­tion on bad products.

But we all have a re­spons­ib­il­ity to take care of our own bod­ies. No one else can do it for us.

It’s one thing for Nut­ter and his nan­nies to pro­mote good health via pub­lic aware­ness cam­paigns, but de­cid­ing what kind of bad habits people are al­lowed to have is something else com­pletely.

Hav­ing cit­izens as stu­pid as me, who put un­health­ful things in­to their bod­ies, is bad.

But hav­ing a gov­ern­ment nanny to force us out of our stu­pid­ity is worse. ••

River­ward Rant re­flects the opin­ions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown res­id­ent, area nat­ive and writer of the Web site PhillyNeigh­, where he makes cyn­ic­al (and un­censored) com­ments about life in the river­wards. He can be reached at

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