Reason TV Nanny of the Month: San Francisco

Heck, even if Reason TV picked San Francisco as its winner of the July 2010 Nanny of the Month for a bad reason, they have plenty of reason to give it to their runner-up … which is still San Francisco.  In fact, the city by the bay gets an unprecedented hat trick of taking all three top spots in the competition.  If only Reason had selected better grounds for the decision:

I wrote about the vending machine controversy earlier in July, and argued at the time that this isn’t really a nanny-state action.  The city’s decision only applies to vending machines on its own property, where they are the merchant, and not to vending machines or merchants elsewhere.  If they choose to sell only unsweetened beverages in their own vending machines, that’s a perfectly rational decision for a merchant to make.  They shouldn’t be forced to sell Coca-Cola any more than the city should force other merchants not to sell Coca-Cola.

Which isn’t to say that San Francisco doesn’t deserve the award, and really for the reason I just outlined.  The city wants to make it impossible for merchants to sell pets and for people to buy bottled water, which is exactly the kind of nanny-statism the award should highlight.  Government imposition on free markets for social engineering is practically the defining characteristic of nanny states, but managing their own vending machine selections is not.