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The Bloomberg Manny State



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A manny is the cute new term for a male nanny.  Mannies are newly popular among the well-staffed set in New York, Greenwich, Ct and similar locales. The idea is that your kids– sons especially — get a little more sports and rough-housing with the babysitting and less of the mollycoddling and all female environments too common in homes where dad works till all hours.

I was wondering if we should call the government of Michael Bloomberg, here in NYC, a “manny state” instead of the clichéd “nanny state.”  But, considering his latest initiative, the answer must be no. In fact, we are regressing to the “baby nurse” state. Having banned smoking and transfats from restaurants, the mayor is now focused on the eating habits of those too young to patronize the city’s eateries.  Specifically, as of yesterday, the mayor has begun a major push to get new mothers to breast feed their infants. Apparently only a quarter of NYC moms choose to do so at the moment, and he wants to triple that number in a few years. He is starting by having city-owned hospitals deny new mothers formula.

Let’s stipulate that breastfeeding is healthier, more nutritious and cheaper than formula feeding; it may even have a marginal positive effect on IQ. (Nursing does require time and knowledge not universally available to execute properly– which is why it is largely the preference of better-educated women.)  Just as forgoing transfats and smoking are objectively healthier choices — and yet is not the state’s responsibility to make.

Still, this is a new, shocking level of intrusiveness into what should be an entirely personal decision. In fact, this is far more egregious than either of the previous policies — which apply to what are already regulated commercial establishments. How to feed one’s own infant is about as intimate and personal a decision as families make. 

So why is he doing it? Is it meant to compensate for his failure to pass his traffic congestion-pricing plan? Or his failure to make significant improvements in educating the city’s public school children? Is this meant to give him a competitive advantage in his hinted-at presidential campaign? Is the never before heard of “breastfeeding issue” an instance where both the GOP and the Democratic party have failed to address a critical social problem, and the unique Bloomberg approach is required? Is it a midsummer joke? A parody of a conservative take on ultra-liberal, statist politics?  Is he trying to out-feminine Hillary and John Edwards? Is it to take attention away from the New York Times revelation that his vaunted subway rides to work begin with a chauffeured SUV trip to an express stop?

If someone knows (really knows) why this is a priority here and now, please share.



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