Wednesday, 3 October 2007

The case against Nanny

Don't smoke. Don't drink. Don't drive fast. Don't eat fatty foods. Don't climb tall ladders. Don't make bad decisions at intersections. Don't fall down stairs. Don't take pills unless Nanny says you can. Wear your seat belt. Wear your helmet. Wrap up warm when you go out ...

Where would we be without government exhortations to look after ourselves? Answer: much better off. Treating citizens like subjects and grown adults like fools -- all with the citizens' own money -- is conducive neither to safety, nor to liberty, nor to a robust good health.

As Herbert Spencer said, "The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools." Given the electoral base of NZ's ruling party(s), that is perhaps the intention.

More and more it seems that the way to a subject's heart is through hysteria, and anti-smoking hyperbole is merely the most prominent of Nanny's hysterics. ARI's Don Watkins puts the case for Nanny's prosecution as a corrupter of morals, especially of independence:
The government's war on smoking--a coercive campaign that includes massive taxes on cigarettes, advertising bans, and endless multi-billion dollar lawsuits against tobacco companies. This war is infecting [individuals] with a political disease far worse than any health risk caused by smoking; it is destroying our freedom to make our own judgments and choices...

Implicit in the war on smoking, however, is the view that the government must dictate the individual's decisions with regard to smoking, because he is incapable of making them rationally. To the extent the anti-smoking movement succeeds in wielding the power of government coercion to impose on Americans its blanket opposition to smoking, it is entrenching paternalism: the view that individuals are incompetent to run their own lives, and thus require a nanny-state to control every aspect of those lives...

But contrary to paternalism, we are not congenitally irrational misfits. We are thinking beings for whom it is both possible and necessary to rationally judge which courses of action will serve our interests...

By employing government coercion to deprive us of the freedom to judge for ourselves what we inhale or consume, the anti-smoking movement has become an enemy, not an ally, in the quest for health and happiness.
Great points all. Read the whole piece here: Anti-Smoking Paternalism: A Cancer on American Liberty.


  1. Geez Peter, you drive me crazy sometimes.

    I read your posts and I invariably think "My God, that makes so much sense!"... and I get all fired up about joining the Libertarianz and donating the whole of my considerable millions to you.

    But then I look at the more extreme positions of libertarianism (like "All tax is theft" "Completely open immigration", etc) and I just can't bring myself to commit totally.

    But, boy, this post hits the nail right on the head! Well written!

  2. Ok.. I was joking about the millions....

  3. Damn. In pursuit of those millions I was just going to start changing Libz policy to say it's okay to allow just a little bit of theft!

  4. Okay, I was joking about the theft. :-)

    But you can seriously join up, and/or donate.

    If you can't bring yourself to commit totally, then thousands are okay too, you know. ;^]

  5. Well, anyway.... I have gone to the Libz' site and i'm trawling through the policies now...

  6. Would I have to read all about Atlas shrugging if I wanted to join, or is there an "Atlas for dummies" version?

  7. I'd certainly become a paid-up member of the Libz--if not for the insane immigration policy.
    Which is frustrating, because that's the only thing I disagree with, but that, passionately.

  8. Yes kg, but then, I have had a look at their site and read through their policies in detail, and there's precious little that I would absolutely disagree with if I'm honest.

    Or, more accurately, I would say that I agree with the main thrust of everything that they say in all policy areas, and there are only SOME pieces of SOME policy areas that I disagree with.

    I haven't, to tell the truth, compared the Libz' policies in finniky detail with those of, say Labour Lite. I had a look at Labour Lite's site and I was stopped in my tracks by a fit of vomiting when I read their wishy washy "Vision For New Zealand" page (especially the "sustainability" crap at the end..... so I'm now off to the ACT site to see if they are any better.

    All in all, the Libz seem to have a very clearly enunciated no-bullshit expression of their values and their policy. And, I suppose it would be a big ask for any one party to perfectly fit 100% in every area with everything one believes in.

    Its just that I can't quite get the spelling of this 'Ayn' Rand out of my mind. How does anybody get away with a name like "Ayn"...?

  9. "And, I suppose it would be a big ask for any one party to perfectly fit 100% in every area with everything one believes in."
    True, Dave. It really comes down to voting for what we hope is the least evil of a number of evils on offer, doesn't it?

  10. Hi DM & KG .. KG, your last comment stole most of my thunder.

    This is the suggestion I always make to those who make similar comments. Focus on the 90+% with which you agree with Libz policy, instead of the odd issue with which you have a problem.

    Once you fully accept the philosophy of "I may disagree with what you say/do, but I accept your right to say/do it", you'll eventually come around. :)

    The problem with the Nats is that their policies are not underpinned by solid philosophy. They sniff the wind (votes) & follow accordingly.

    Liberty doesn't come with a series of sub-clauses.

  11. dbPC, coincidentally, I've been noting the various govt 'ads' nightly on TV over the last few weeks .. they were driving me bloody crazy & I was toying with the subject for TFR.

    But last night took the biscuit. Even more nauseating than the wahines exhorting their sisters to get a smear for the sake of their mokopunas, or that smug wanker trying to sell me on Kiwibank when my bloody money paid for it in the first place, was one I hadn't seen before from the arch-nazis at OSH.

    As if I haven't got enough to worry about, I'm now paying for some sanctimonious prick to tell me to watch out for unsecured pallets!!

    (Because I've got hundreds of them in my office, donchaknow!)

  12. KG

    After reading your previous commment about immigration I did some checking. The best discussion and derivation I can find regarding a valid Libertarian view on immigration is available from Prof Hans Herman Hoppe. You'd be pleased to know he does not propose free unrestricted immigration- not at all. There are important provisos.

    Check him out on the web.


  13. LGM, thanks for that. Looking...


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