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How the Nanny State ruined Saturday Morning

Readers of a certain age may remember when kids began their weekends by gathering around the television to watch Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo, and other Saturday Morning cartoons. Today, network programming on Saturday morning looks like any other day of the week with news programs, "infomercials," and talk shows taking the place of cartoons.

What happened to Saturday morning cartoons? Well, surprise, the government ruined it. You see, one reason networks showed so many cartoons is because they were able to sell ad time for products aimed at children--usually toys and sugary cereals.  In the 1990s, the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications passed a regulation limiting the amount of advertising of foods and products aimed at children that could be aired during cartoon time.

The regulations, like most regulations, were no doubt well-intentioned. However, the regulations had the unintended consequence of making it unprofitable for networks to air Saturday Morning Cartoons, so they stopped showing cartoons.

Now I do support limiting children's consumption of sugary cereals and understand the need to place some limits on children's unlimited desire for new toys. However, restricting children's consumption of sugary cereal and toys is the job of parents, not governments.

Sadly, too many are willing to turn over the responsibility of raising children to the government. I remember when I was working in Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul's congressional office getting letters from parents asking for the government to restrict the advertising of toys on TV. The reason was that having to say no to their children created "conflict" in the parent-child relationship.  My parents had no problem saying no to me and did not worry about it creating conflict in our relationship. My parents, and my friends' parents, were also able to let me and my friends play outside without fear that they would be thrown in jail for "child neglect."

Restricting advertisements aimed at children may not appear to be related to throwing parents in jail for allowing their children to play in the park without adult supervision. But both are rooted in the idea that government should act as a parent. After all, if it is the role of government, not parents, to control children’s demand for sugary cereal and toys, then why shouldn't government decide that it is too dangerous for children to play alone . . .  and jail any parent who feels differently?

For more about how the government ruined Saturday mornings, see “How the Government Killed Scooby Doo" at the Free Beacon.

 


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