Over the past few weeks, Israel's new government has put forward a series of proposals that would further encroach on the delicate balance between personal liberty and public overreach.
Embracing ideas that would signal unprecedented intervention in our daily lives, various bureaucrats and decision-makers do not appear terribly troubled by the prospect of chipping away at some of our most basic freedoms.
This trend is something that should worry us all because while it may start with what appears to be well-intentioned tinkering, it inevitably devolves into much more pervasive intrusions.
Take, for example, the recent series of proposed tax hikes on sugary drinks and single-use plastic disposables, such as cups, bowls and straws.
The Finance Ministry has indicated that in order to curtail consumption of soft drinks by the public, a tax of NIS 1.3 will be imposed per each liter containing more than five grams of added sugar for every 100 milliliters. Beverages containing less sugar, such as Coke Zero or Pepsi Max, will be levied a duty of 70 agorot.
Similarly, with the aim of discouraging the use of plastic goods, a tax of NIS 11 per kg. will be placed on the purchase of disposable utensils.
The two measures are expected to add more than NIS 1.1 billion annually to the government's coffers.
At first glance, these moves would appear to make a great deal of sense. After all, most would agree that encouraging people to consume less sugar and use less plastic are worthwhile objectives for health, economic and environmental reasons.
But such thinking ignores a critical point: just because a societal goal is desirable or beneficial does not necessarily mean that governmental power or coercion is the ideal way to achieve it.
Indeed, once governments start sticking their noses into people's lives and habits, they have a tendency to become overbearing and meddlesome. And that is not healthy for any society.
To put it more bluntly, why should some faceless bureaucrats interfere with the personal choices that people make about what they put into their mouths or the means with which they do so?
And where does it end? Should the government impose a chocolate tax, a pizza tax or a cheesecake tax to deter people from eating high-calorie or high-fat foods? Isn't it the task of parents, not politicians, to instill good health habits?
Worse yet, as with most things that the government does, the plan itself is ill-advised and poorly-conceived.
As a recent article in Globes asked, "How will disposable utensils be defined and will the law leave some of them out of the circle of taxation?" According to the draft law put forward by the government, the definition of disposable will be based on the thickness of the product. Hence, a plastic cup, bowl or plate that is up to two millimeters thick will be considered single-use and therefore fall under the added tax, whereas thicker items will not.
You don't need to be an expert in behavioral economics to realize that the unintended consequence of such a move will be to boost the purchase of thicker plastic goods, which are even more detrimental to the environment.
Similarly, the imposition of a lower duty on diet soft drinks, which often consist of a concoction of chemicals no less dangerous than mounds of sugar, will simply lead people to replace one poison with another that may even be worse. And so, through a sloppy attempt at social engineering, the government might just achieve the very opposite of its stated aims.
Furthermore, the implicit assumption underlying measures such as the soft drink tax is that politicians and bureaucrats know better than you or I about how we should run our own personal and daily lives. This is nothing less than unadulterated arrogance.
A government is supposed to govern, not babysit. When the Nanny State starts to go nuts, when it begins to take on the role of social engineering, it is heading down a perilous path.
If you think I am exaggerating, then take a moment to consider a shocking proposal that was made last month by MK Alon Tal (Blue and White), a member of the governing coalition.
At a conference in Tel Aviv, he stated that the government should take action to encourage families to have no more than two children, calling such a move, "the patriotic choice."
I think a more accurate description of Tal's proposal would be "the patronizing choice."
What gives the government the right to involve itself in the decisions made by a married couple regarding the size of its family? But that is precisely what happens when officials feel free to interfere in matters of personal choice.
Tal's idea is reminiscent of the one-child policies that were imposed for years by China's Communist regime. Is that really a model we should consider emulating?
It is perhaps not surprising that after two millennia without the sovereign powers of self-rule, Israelis have become so enamored of government that we just cannot seem to get enough of it. Nor do we offer much protest when it becomes domineering.
The expansion of Israel's Nanny State is a case in point.
But it is time for this to change. We have created a bloated and unwieldy system which rather than trimming itself down instead seeks to intrude on every corner of our existence.
On March 30, 1981, in an address to a major American labor union, US president Ronald Reagan rightly noted, "We've lost sight of the rule that individual freedom and ingenuity are at the very core of everything that we've accomplished. Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives."
Those are words that should be etched into stone at the entrance to every government office in this country.