Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Control Is Freedom

The BBC news website is giving prominent position to this egregious piece of drivel...

The term 'nanny state' is not normally used as a compliment. But public health expert Dr Alan Maryon Davis says we need more nannying, not less.

Can you see where this is going? Ugh!

On the contrary, there's plenty of evidence that people want to see the government doing more to help us avoid big killers like heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Attitudes have changed radically over the 30 years I've been involved in promoting and protecting public health. I see an increasing acceptance that we, all of us, need not only more information and guidance from government, but also more legislation to save us from ourselves.

We accept the laws on seat-belts, crash helmets and drink-driving because we know they reduce road injuries and deaths.

What? Seatbelts really help other passengers. Remember the advert with the kid in the back slamming into the driver's seat? Equally drink-driving laws are there to protect the other road users. Though he has a point regarding cycle helmets. But we don't need legislation to "save us from ourselves". Why? Laws are there to protects us from each other.

We are happy to see bans on tobacco advertising and the selling of alcohol and tobacco to minors because we understand the dangers for young people.

That is rather different is it not? Children are not necessarily capable of making informed and rational judgements in the same way as an adult. Society widely recognises this with many 'dangerous' or 'self harming' activities limited to those below a certain age. Generally one is assumed to be a fully fledged independent adult at 18, but with degrees of maturity from 15-21yrs.

And to my mind the really shining example of how far the public have come in accepting laws to help protect us from self-harm is the huge support for smoke-free public spaces and workplaces throughout the UK.

Well I think you'll find the reason for the support was due to (1) the preference of a smoke free atmosphere in general, (2) protection from the second hand smoke of others (not protection from oneself!), and possibly (3) a small degree of feeling that smoking is generally bad and should be discouraged.

But it was ordinary people who really tipped the balance to change the law. It was the steady shift in public opinion that gave legislators the courage. It proved that we, the people, can have a powerful influence on the way laws can be made on our behalf.

Well, I should bloody well think so. It is a democracy after all. But let's not even go into the fact that democracy is nothing more than tyranny of the majority. Ok, I can't resist. Democracy is by definition majoritarian and collectivist, and thus in any liberal democracy there must exist cast iron liberties to protect minorities, and the individual is the smallest minority, from "Mobocracy" (rule by the mob).

We need to press for more legislation to improve and protect health and well-being.

I don't want protecting, thanks. I can look after my own well-being, and I don't want some jumped up little fascist telling me what is and is not in my own interests, nor even preventing me from doing harm to myself. That is my business and nobody else's.

What next? I would like to see a ban on smoking in cars with a child on board and a ban on displays of cigarettes in shops. I would like to see a real hike in tax on alcohol and a ban on deep price-cuts for booze. I would like to see a wider ban on junk-food adverts around TV programmes watched largely by children.

I would like to see a whole raft of other legislation for health. This is not 'nannying'. This is responsible government acting on behalf of a consenting public.

Campaigns, guidelines and voluntary codes aren't enough. We need more laws to ensure that the world in which we live, work and play will help promote and protect our health.

He really is of Nazi brethren, isn't he? Don't forget it was the Nazis who first introduced a smoking ban! The problem with Dr Alan's argument is that he fails to understand the fundamental difference between external and internal 'costs'. Indeed people should be protected from others, and this can be drawn as far as second hand smoke, drink driving, food advertising to children, etc, but people should not be protected from themselves. If I choose to 'supersize me' then I should be perfectly free to eat burgers to my heart's content (or coronary).

It is unfortunate and highly terrifying that we have individuals with such belief in collectivism, such belief in their righteousness, and such little belief in freedom and individual liberty, in such positions of influence. One has to ask oneself the question - would I rather live under a democracy or benevolent dictator (if there were such a thing) who upheld the law and ensured maximum individual freedom? I would have to choose the latter.


Anonymous February 4, 2009 at 7:50 PM  

Meet the nice lady who pushed for the home ban.

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