I did'nt start using this term until recently. I first picked it up at Michael Lawrence's blog, and have been using it on and off for some time now.
Now, it should be obvious what it means, right? Nanny state refers to government protection by intervention. The government means to protect it's citizens by passing laws, policies, or in other ways excessively controlling the lives of it's citizens, regarless of their personal desires. For example, smoking bans, trans fat bans, drinking laws , drug laws, and excessive safety laws. It should be blatantly obvious that this does'nt work. If Prohibition has taught us anything*, it's that making an action illegal does'nt stop it. It's not actually possible in my mind, to legislate personal behaviour and desires.
Now, don't get me wrong. I do not advocate that the government should legislate nothing whatever regarding behaviours. In fact, I counsider myself bound by my religion to to support legislation against crimes which trespass against justice, be they crimes against life, against property, or even some unacceptable moral behaviours. The problem I'm speaking about is rather that, nowadays, anything that can be shown to have a negative effect on a person's life is fair game to be made illegal, or at least discouraged by other laws. hence, since the government can't totally outlaw fatty foods, they make them expensive and limit who can sell them. (Currently in my own city, all transfat is illegal.) Skating in Philly's love park is dangerous, as it's extremely easy to get injured. So that is illegal as well.
Certain games can have a negative effect on a person's psyche. sometimes inciting violence. Now, due to government mandated censorship, it seems that first amendment rights do not apply to the gaming industry, of which many examples could be pointed out. You and I see it in possible 'green' regulations. With global warming and the impending overpopulation of the world, some people are brave enough to advocate a return to some of America's practices of Eugenics (Which I did my term paper on this year) and we're all familiar with pres.Obama's statement that government-induced bankrupting of the coal industry might be a neccesary evil. Those are all examples of government intervention, and current news seems to support the idea that there is mor to come: Socialized medicine, government regulated commerce, mandatory youth camps, etc, etc.
So you're wondering now "What exactly is this r'tard's point? " or something to amounting to those words. Basically, I don't think that the current overregulation of private lives does any real good. I don't think that the kind of government intervention in the economy and private busineess that we've been hearing of, or the over regulation we've seen recently can lead to much of anything, other than more arrests and prosecutions, and a possible slide into to Socialism-Lite.