Nanny State

Secular authorities aim for paradise on earth via micromanagement of citizens

California bureaucrats are aiming for more and more control over our lives—with no end in sight. A San Diego county government agency is proposing various options for a mileage tax, anticipating that more electric vehicles will reduce overall gas tax revenues — currently 51 cents per gallon— by far the highest in the nation. One way to collect a mileage tax would be to force vehicle owners to install a data transponder for counting. Every mile driven would be transmitted and taxed by the county at 4 cents per mile. Meanwhile, the gas tax would remain in place.

Personally, it won’t affect me much because I drive maybe 1,500 miles per year. But it would have before my retirement, when I drove 24,000 miles annually. All workers with long commutes would be seriously affected. The state’s goal is to curtail auto driving and force public transportation, while maintaining revenues.

It doesn’t stop there. The state banned pet stores from selling dogs and cats starting this year (presumably to eliminate puppy mills), unless the animals come from a rescue shelter. Plastic straws are now illegal, to save our oceans and sea life. Sugary drinks are being taxed, as if that will stop consumers from guzzling the stuff that makes them obese and diabetic. The Golden State is determined to be an exemplar despite New York’s soda tax becoming an exercise in futility.

Will capping the amount of calories in foods sold be next on the public menu? California could eventually force consumers to be vegans, not only banning fur clothing, as it now does, but also meat, dairy, and eggs, to improve public health, of course. A single-payer health care system, reminiscent of the UK’s, could dictate such austerities, despite its poor outcomes and relentless cuts in benefits.

Every calorie we consume and every mile we drive is to be accounted for. Not to worry. Just by living in this blessed state, every hair on our hallowed heads would be numbered.

But the (false) promise of material paradise on earth is achieved only by forfeiting our individual freedoms. People make poor choices, sure. But it is better to be free to fail than to have free will eliminated — either by government fiat or by conditioning.

God does not want such servitude imposed upon us. His gift of free will teases out the good from our souls. His heavenly kingdom is rarely seen on earth, but it is seen: in a cloistered convent whose members willingly practice self-restraint, or in homes where a devout, loving family illumines our world like a Christmas tree.

Unless and until California’s citizens turn to God and practice virtue as taught by the Church, the state isn’t headed for paradise on earth. Quite the contrary.


Richard M. DellOrfano spent ten years on a cross-country pilgrimage following Christ’s instruction to minister without possessions. He is completing his autobiography: Path Perilous, My Search for God and the Miraculous.

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