American conservatives, who have long deplored the government “entitlements” bestowed on the unwashed and unworthy, are fond of the term: “nanny state.” But I think there’s a right-wing version of this concept, which deserves the term “daddy state.” The autocrat in charge, the “daddy,” is almost invariably a dogmatic, egocentric, socially awkward, strangely synthetic nerd. Like Clarence Day and Frank Gilbreth, he is singularly ill-equipped for daddyhood and — suspecting this flaw — builds the household, or the state, on the delusion that it can be run “like a business.”
The “daddy state” regards its citizens as a father perceives his kids: children are perilously ignorant of how to properly control their lives or guide their future. We, the people, tend toward appetite and self-indulgence. We cannot grasp the value of a dollar. If we are to be saved from ourselves, we need to be restrained, scolded, denied, disciplined and watched over, all the time. When necessary, we should be lied to.