A Nanny Carrying A Club

As long as they’re not harming someone, what a man or woman does on his or her own property is pretty much no one else’s business, right?

Wrong. You’ve been reading too many books about how the nation’s founders viewed government authority.

Last year, West Virginia legislators approved a bill that, in effect, eliminated a state prohibition on driving under the influence of alcohol on one’s own property. It seemed so reasonable that the House of Delegates vote was 98-1 (with one absence) in favor of the bill. State senators voted 25-9 in favor of it.

Since then, state officials have been informed that Uncle Sam does not approve. Unless last year’s legislation is rescinded — and it once again is made illegal to drive under the influence on your own property — West Virginia could lose $58 million a year in federal highway funding.

Theoretically, then, if you have three or four drinks, decide to move the car to a different spot in your driveway, and a police officer notices — you can be arrested.

Relax: Not a lot of law enforcement personnel in our state are going to go to that extreme.

But the fact remains that the federal government says they should, and is prepared to enforce the edict with a stiff fine levied against the people of West Virginia.

That isn’t the only situation in which the feds use our tax dollars as cattle prods to enforce their will. Public schools provide another example.

Don’t comply with federal school guidelines on any number of matters, including what’s served in school cafeterias, and the U.S. Department of Education can withhold federal funding from your state. School lunch programs alone in West Virginia rely on $151 million annually from Washington. Hundreds of millions of other federal dollars are used for other school purposes.

You can see why the state Department of Education responds, “How high?” when the feds order us to jump.

One suspects the nation’s founders would have been aghast at how the federal government has expanded its power during the past two centuries. They attempted to limit federal authority — but forgot that he who holds the purse strings can dictate just about anything to the states.

Undoubtedly, Mountain State legislators will rescind the DUI bill from last year. They don’t really have a choice.

Modern government has been referred to as “the nanny state.” It’s bad enough that so many in Washington think they know best how we ought to live our lives.

Worse, however, is the fact that this nanny carries a club — bought with your tax dollars and mine.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.


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