I am looking forward to reading David Harsanyi's book Nanny State. Hit and Run has an interview with some good stuff. I think he gets at the nature of the threat very succinctly:
The problem is each citizen has a pet issue. It may be a smoking ban.
Or the need to coerce the obese to stop stuffing their faces. And when
you add all of those up we have the nanny state. While all these
piddling intrusions can be separately viewed as non-threatening, once
you bundle them together we have a movement with the potential to
inflict tremendous damage on our basic freedoms.