The Nanny State

In my story about The Good Old Days, I alluded to minority groups having a significant influence over societal changes and questioned whether that’s a good thing, but some of my comments appear to have been misconstrued as to who they were directed towards. So when another initiative by a group of Nanny State adherents, acting under the guise of ‘experts’ or do-gooders (well-meaning but unrealistic or interfering philanthropists or reformers) was announced, I thought I’d consolidate some of my views into a single story. I guess I’ve made it somewhat clear in a number of stories that government interference in our daily lives, to an extent that I’ve never experienced before, is one of my pet hates. Sanctimonious do-gooders, funded by taxpayers, need to have a reason for existence and thus keep coming up with more and more self-serving ideas to inflict upon everyone and it needs to stop.

Don't even think about it - (source: Courier Mail)

Don’t even think about it – (source: Courier Mail)

The usual mantra is that it’s for ‘everyone’s good’, and especially if it saves just one life or addresses some perceived epidemic, it’s worth doing. So what’s spurred me to write about this? I came across several articles in our newspapers, which immediately raised my hackles. If you don’t see problems with this from the outset, you need to stop and think. The proposed strategy copies a concept (PDF) from Sweden and here’s a quick summary of the proposal (my emphasis):

Drivers will be forced to pass a breathalyser test before leaving a public car park under a state government trial starting next year.

The alco-gates, which involve alcohol sensors linked the [sic] exit boom gates, were announced under the road safety strategy and action plan publicly released last week.

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the Andrews Government would invest $1 billion to implement the strategy, which aims to reduce annual road fatalities to 200 or less by 2020

Now let’s take that last sentence of the quote and look at some figures. Firstly, drugs are now causing more road deaths than alcohol. The reported fatalities for last year were: 32 caused by drugs and 22 caused by alcohol. So $1 billion (and the rest) will be spent on these breathalysers in order to stop those 22 drunk drivers, but nothing about drug affected drivers. But it also begs the question, what caused the other fatalities? Let’s also consider another figure from the Swedish experience; in Sweden there were 27 fatalities/million people, at time of publication, associated with drink driving. In Victoria, last year’s figures indicate that it’s approx 4 fatalities/million people associated with drink driving. Sweden’s population is 1.6 times that of Victoria, yet their alcohol related road deaths are nearly seven times higher. Think about that for a moment.

Alco-Gate Sweden (source: European Transport Safety Council)

Alco-Gate Sweden (source: European Transport Safety Council)

Now let’s look at some other issues. What needs to be noted is that the Swedish Alco-Gates are situated in very specific locations and they are the ports of Gothenburg and Stockholm, where ferries unload trucks and cars; a fully controlled environment with a constant police presence. The article in the ABC report indicates that the intent is to locate these alco-gates at all carparks at licensed venues. So one can naturally assume that it will include the likes of the Crown Casino, all pubs, clubs, restaurants, bistros, boutique breweries, shopping centres with licensed venues, football clubs with an alcohol license, and the list goes on. Will those venues without gated carparks have to build such? Is this going to be extended throughout Victoria and to our borders (as is being considered in the EU), or just the metropolitan area? Is it one in all in, or just a select few picked at random by ‘experts’? Now I don’t support drink driving, but I do support common sense (even though it is often in short supply in the ‘experts’ inventory).

Crown Casino - Southbank Victoria

Crown Casino – Southbank Victoria

Crown Casino - Southbank Victoria

Crown Casino – Southbank Victoria

Fish Creek Hotel - Fish Creek Victoria

Fish Creek Hotel – Fish Creek Victoria

Grand Ridge Brewery - Mirboo North Victoria

Grand Ridge Brewery – Mirboo North Victoria

Then the other issue that comes to mind is that very few carparks have permanent staff monitoring and helping customers, as they have at ports, so what happens when things go awry? Just imagine a crowded carpark after a football game and thousands wanting to leave the carpark at the same time. Everyone has to wait for each car to pass through the breathalyser and what happens if the device goes off? Wait for police to arrive and assess the situation while the rest wait in a queue. Then a few minutes later it happens again and police have to come back; so will people get angry, will police become frustrated? What if the breathalyser is broken? And I’ll bet that these things will become a great play thing for pranksters and vandals. Boom gates do fail, as shown in my examples, but now there will be an additional layer of potential failure.

Westfield Carpark Chaos - (source: Daily Mail)

Westfield Carpark Chaos – (source: Daily Mail)

Gridlock in the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre carpark - (source: Courier Mail)

Gridlock in the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre carpark – (source: Courier Mail)

So what other things have the ‘experts’ inflicted on the general public, with inevitable failure? Let’s take one of the earliest that comes to mind, bicycle helmets. The day mandatory wearing of bicycle helmets became law, such that you couldn’t even ride on dedicated bike paths, rail trails and other places well away from roads without a helmet, we sold our bicycles. Not only has the mandatory wearing of bicycle helmets not produced any tangible safety outcomes, it has in fact had the opposite effect and even cycling bodies object to this law. And major bicycle riding initiatives have been a dismal failure because of this law. In Europe, such requirements are generally shunned and bicycle riding is hugely popular. We seem to take cues from Europe when it suits us, but not when it doesn’t. And when you look at it, there’s just something very different about bicycle riding in Europe compared to that in Australia (I’ll exclude the nude bicycle riders who are forever trying to make a point that no one understands).

Bicycle Riding Copenhagen - (source: Wikipedia)

Bicycle Riding Copenhagen – (source: Wikipedia)

Bicycle Riding Copenhagen - (source: Embassy Denmark)

Bicycle Riding Copenhagen – (source: Embassy Denmark)

Bicycling Riding Victoria - (source: Visit Victoria)

Bicycling Riding Victoria – (source: Visit Victoria)

Bicycling Riding Victoria - (source: Victorian Cycling Organisation)

Bicycling Riding Victoria – (source: Victorian Cycling Organisation)

A more recent initiative pushed by ‘experts’ and promptly enacted by government was the sad and sorry alcopop saga. The prevailing thought (by ever vigilant ‘experts’) was that our youth were engaging in far too much binge drinking and alcopops were to blame. Alcopops are those premixed drinks usually available in 300ml bottles and the like. The idea was to tax these heavily to discourage their purchase. Well, that that didn’t work out as planned, as our youth being somewhat more astute than the well-meaning ‘experts’, simply began to buy full bottles of alcohol and soft drink to mix their own, at a much cheaper price. However, the downside was that they were now consuming drinks without a standard quantity of alcohol to what they were used to, and could better control, and thus the nips were simply getting bigger.

Alcopops - (source: Sydney Morning Herald)

Alcopops – (source: Sydney Morning Herald)

And of course cigarettes are the other object of continual attack by the ‘experts’, while at the same time raking in copious quantities of cash for the government (until they don’t), and were elevated to a level of evil, just above sugar, fat and fast foods (until the ‘experts’ got their way and moved on). The not so long ago introduced plain packaging laws, when fully investigated, have failed to deliver what was promised (no surprise there) but in addition, has created a black market industry that has government worried; worried because of the loss of revenue.

Why are more cigarettes being sold when the goal of plain packaging was to reduce smoking? As any elementary course in marketing will teach you, a product becomes commoditized when it is stripped of its branding. The industry is forced to compete on price and consumers buy cheaper cigarettes, less expensive loose tobacco or even turn to the black market.

This is exactly what The Australian, a leading newspaper Down Under, recently reported is happening: nearly half of the country’s cigarettes are now purchased from the lowest price segments, up from just a third before plain packaging was introduced.

And if anyone has read about e-cigarettes, you’ll note that the ‘experts’ reject any notion of making these legal despite quite a lot of evidence that they pose far less of a health risk than normal cigarettes and help to get people off regular cigarettes, amongst other benefits. They are legal in most countries but not Australia. One wonders why? Note: I don’t smoke.

E-Cigarette - (source: Wikipedia)

E-Cigarette – (source: Wikipedia)

Ever vigilant to the frailties of the human psyche, the ‘experts’ are constantly seeking out new means to save us from ourselves. So when one venture runs its course, inevitably fails and hopefully becomes forgotten, new ones emerge. Most recently it’s been a proposed fat and sugar tax. It’s instructive to note that every incentive to ‘save us’ always involves a new tax or a tax increase. And with all the propaganda associated with these proposals, the proponents always suggest (without any substantiating evidence) that the vast majority of Australians support another tax or tax hike, especially one that will miraculously raise additional revenue while at the same time decimating sales of the products that are supposed to raise the additional revenue. If a tax is the answer to everything, then why do we need more taxes on products that are already taxed? It always sounds good, until it fails to work. And they go silent when evidence indicates that they may be very wrong.

The reality is the tax [Denmark’s ‘fat tax’] had little or no effect on dietary habits, obesity and health. It failed to do what it was supposed to do and so the Danes sensibly got rid of it. No amount of revisionism will change that, but it is not hard to guess why the story is being rewritten. Sugar has now replaced saturated fat as the health scare du jour and the conspicuous failure of the Danish experiment casts a long shadow over attempts to bring in a sugar tax. Politicians know it didn’t work. Worse still (for the campaigners), politicians know it was very unpopular. It failed and was seen to fail. The ‘public health’ lobby is pretty good at presenting damp squibs as great successes after the fact (minimum pricing in Canada and plain packaging in Australia spring to mind). Their job now is to do the same thing with the Danish fat tax.

Yum! Bacon Explosion: I eat what I want - (recipe: BBQ Addicts)

Yum! Bacon Explosion: I eat what I want – (recipe: BBQ Addicts)

Another thing that I’d like single out is the greatest Nanny State of all, the European Union (EU). What the EU dictates ostensibly affects everyone in the world, regardless of whether it’s relevant/beneficial to other parts of the world. This is because when companies have to manufacture products to meet EU requirements, they generally standardise for the remainder of the world, rather than make different products for different markets. But examples show how ridiculous these dictates can be, such as for high power consumer devices. The EU intent is to reduce the power of many household devices in order to prevent climate change; however, much of it fails a logic test such as for kettles and toasters. For example, to boil one litre of water requires a certain amount of energy and it’s completely irrelevant whether a kettle is 1000W or 10,000W, both will consume the same amount of energy to bring the same amount of water to boil (from the same starting temperature), only one will take longer, and much the same applies to toasters etc. Further, low powered devices such as vacuum cleaners etc will take longer to clean a household, or not clean as efficiently, meaning the vacuum cleaner will be on for longer, consuming just as much or more power. And it seems that no amount of explaining to the bureaucrats in the EU appears to have any effect.

Kettle - Its job is to boil water

Kettle – Its job is to boil water

There’s one important thing that differentiates the Nanny State from acceptable and responsible government intervention or regulation. Government intervention and regulation on such issues as public health and safety is a good thing, when properly investigated, evaluated and implemented. Using cars as an example, such things as seat belts, laminated windscreens, ABS etc have all been good, as these are things that can be implemented as part of industrial design, testing, engineering and production, and introduced as a standard. They also provide tangible benefits without intruding on other things. And if such things as sugar really is an issue, why not simply mandate that foods can contain only so much sugar/gm etc, why a tax that ostensibly changes nothing? But initiatives that involve personal values, significant variables, uncertainty, potential for failure or rorting, or cannot be standardised, are very poor initiatives and should be never be introduced. Worst of all, very little thought is ever given to the potential unintended consequences before implementing these often flawed ideas. Additionally, no Australian government has the spine to withdraw a failed policy because, inevitably, the ‘experts’ and do-gooder supporters, aided and abetted by the main stream media, will do everything in their power to vilify the government should it try to do so.

The Nanny State - (Source: Centre for Independent Studies)

The Nanny State – (Source: Centre for Independent Studies)

So why are we subject to so many Nanny State initiatives? I truly suspect it’s because on the one hand there is a plethora of government (taxpayer) funded organisations that may once have had a valid existence, but over time the significant issues have been addressed and they are now basically fighting to remain relevant and stay employed. They have to find causes and in doing so elevate anything and everything into a crisis. It’s a case of self-preservation and damn the consequences. On the other side, there are always those who have a personal cause and constantly seek attention, and those government (taxpayer) funded organisations are only too happy to provide them with a platform and wholehearted support to justify their existence. And, given the lack of a spine, governments are always looking for an excuse for more taxes and these ever vocal taxpayer funded organisations, populated with self-serving ‘experts’, are a safe means by which to justify more taxes.

Update 0. I’ve put this one at the very top, as I came across it well after writing this story and felt that it reflected everything that’s wrong with today’s governments (around the world). The words were written by Thomas Paine, an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States:

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

Update 1. I came across this article while researching another story and it indicates once again where ‘experts’ often have no idea of the actual issues or of the unintended consequences of their actions:

We had previously reported that, “EVSC (Electronic Vehicle Speed Control) was back with a vengeance through the re-introduction of the Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) – or – speed control system in a European Union (EU) Commission funded project called “Saferider”.

Of the five warning systems being developed in the project, the Force Feedback Throttle was the most dangerous.

Right To Ride’s, Trevor Baird, said, “From my experience of having ridden an ISA equipped motorcycle in trials conducted in Great Britain, I can only condemn the force feedback throttle as dangerous because of the propensity of the system to de-stabilize the bike.”

Update 2. And another interesting article about organic foods, which is something that is constantly being pushed as an answer to our so-called health problems.

What we eat is seen as more important than ever. And everywhere we are urged to go organic: we are told it is more nutritious, it improves animal welfare and helps the environment. In reality, that is mostly marketing hype.

Update 3. No doubt the ‘experts’ will be hotly contesting these assertions:

The surprising health benefits of drinking beer

Update 4. Western Australia certainly does do things differently:

Aldi’s application to sell alcohol was rejected

Update 5. And I really like this:

Half a courgette instead of a plate of pasta – where’s the energy in that?’ – Ruby Tandoh on self-doubt, misogyny and carbs

We can assume she’s no advocate of Jamie Oliver’s sugar tax, then? “It feels like we’re demonising the diets of working class people. We’re asking, ‘Why the hell are you feeding your kids KFC and fizzy drinks?’ but then offering expensive alternatives like coconut water in return.

Update 6. And I don’t think that this can be beaten:

German discounter Lidl is removing its brand of fruit yoghurts and honey peanuts from the shelves because it fails to tell customers they might contain milk and peanuts.

Update 7. Just when you though things couldn’t get any more stupid, it does:

Animal rights group PETA has taken issue with the name of southern Tasmania’s Eggs and Bacon Bay and is lobbying for it to be changed to a vegan alternative.

PETA Australia campaign coordinator Claire Fryer said the group had written to the Huon Valley Council requesting the location be known as Apple and Cherry Bay.

Update 8. And this simply has to be included as a perfect example of the ‘unintended consequences’ resulting from (taxpayer funded) well-meaning people being allowed to embark on activities that have no scientific basis:

The use of life-like dolls that cry to be fed and changed and ‘wake up’ in the night for feeding (infant simulators) have been widely used in developed countries to deter teenage girls from getting pregnant. It was thought that experiencing first-hand the responsibility of caring for a baby and the 24-hour commitment it requires would encourage girls to enjoy teenage life before starting a family.

The results of the first randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of using infant simulators as a pregnancy deterrent have just been published and indicate that they may not effectively deter teenage girls from becoming pregnant. In fact the data show that the girls who cared for an infant simulator were more likely to become pregnant than those who did not.

Update 9. Sticky Date puddings in the firing line:

At a private meeting of 100 food industry executives on Thursday – it may even have been over dessert, for all I know – he decided to read them the riot act: either cut the sugar content of restaurant puddings or else reduce portion sizes. If you don’t, he warned, the Government will sneak in a bill to force you to do so.

Update 10. They just can’t leave things alone:

Sugar-sweetened drinks should be taxed and obesity renamed a chronic disease, according to a coalition of Australia’s most influential doctors groups.

The Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges, representing bodies including the Royal Australian College of GPs, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, has developed a six-point obesity action plan to tackle what it calls the most pressing public health issue.

Update 11. And for those whose jobs depend on taxpayer handouts, they will never ease up, nor ever comprehend that they are the pot calling the kettle black.

Update 12. And if any benefits to forbidden fruit are found, they tend not to be widely publicised.

Update 13. For what it’s worth, this just keeps becoming more ridiculous every year and it’s always a priority to tax and then supposedly subsidise:

A sugar tax could add more than two years to the lives of Australians if introduced with other measures encouraging healthier eating, researchers at the University of Melbourne say.

In an article to be published in the PLOS (Public Library of Science) Magazine, modelling by the university’s Centre for Public Health Policy concludes that taxing foods that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fats — as well as subsidising fruit and vegetables…

If that worked, he added, then “we can widen it out and then have a system of taxes and subsidies that benefits more people, saves more money.”

Update 14. More taxes:

Owners who leave properties vacant will be slugged with a new tax under a Victorian government push to free up more housing for sale and reduce rents.

The new vacant residential property tax is expected to raise about $80 million over four years, coming into force on January 1.

Update 15. And one more for good measure (might as well ban the sale of these as well):

SCHOOLS have been told to stop using butter in the latest NSW government crackdown on the food sold at ­canteens.

Banning or severely restricting fairy bread, Vegemite, schnitzels, pies and cream is also part of a dreary new regimen for kids.

Under a blanket regimen starting next year, public schools are being told they must not buy hundreds and thousands, butter, cream, salt, Nutella, icing and chocolate chips.

Update 16. You can’t keep a good EU down:

The European commission has been accused of a crime against the people of Belgium for what local politicians say amounts to an attempt to ban the national dish, the frite – or frieten, as they say in the Flemish-speaking north of the country.

Update 17. While evidence keeps coming in that e-cigarettes do reduce smoking, Australia and it’s health experts ban e-cigarettes:

Conclusion The substantial increase in e-cigarette use among US adult smokers was associated with a statistically significant increase in the smoking cessation rate at the population level. These findings need to be weighed carefully in regulatory policy making regarding e-cigarettes and in planning tobacco control interventions.

Update 18. Our health experts should watch this, but I suspect that they wouldn’t see the irony or the funny side:

Update 19. This is a pretty good article on The Nanny State of affairs in the US:

You’re Stupid, So We Are Going to Take Away Your Freedom

In a country based on the principle of liberty, should we really contemplate depriving people of freedom because they sometimes don’t make choices experts think are best for them? My title really understates the liberty-depriving philosophy of the nanny state. More accurately, it is: Some people make what we think are bad choices, so we are going to deprive everyone of liberty.

Freedom has no meaning if people are only free to make the choices government experts think are rational.

Update 20. So, fat is bad for you? I await the rebuttal, which is sure to come:

New research published in the Lancet shows that low fat diets could increase your risk of death.

…higher fat consumption was associated with lower mortality; this was seen for all major types of fats (saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and mono unsaturated fats), with saturated fats being associated with lower stroke risk.

Update 21. And this is what has killed off many 4WD club activities, with the extremely onerous requirements for even the most simplest of trips. The Adventure Activity Standards were designed for commercial operators and are slowly being forced onto just about anyone conducting any sort of outdoor activity. The requirements are more onerous than a military exercise:

Bushwalking groups fear new safety standards will create so much red tape they’ll be forced to quit the pastime.

The proposed Australian Adventure Activity Standards will assess bushwalking group leaders for their competency in a long list of outdoor skills, such as first aid, running a camp site, and even interpreting weather conditions in the field.

Update 22. While bicycle riding is in decline, more and more cyclists are injured on the roads. So what’s the solution, make the roads less and less amenable to motorists, who are the ones that actually pay for the roads:

The 2017 results showed the proportion of people who had cycled in the past month declined from 27 per cent in 2011 to 22 per cent in 2017.

While we need to invest more in cycling-specific infrastructure (like bike lanes and bike paths) it is often not feasible to have this across an entire road network.

So, we need a multi-faceted approach to improving safety for cyclists.

Reducing the speed limit in residential streets to 30 kilometres per hour has been proposed as a way to improve safety for vulnerable road users, and a trial has recently been announced in inner Melbourne.

We also need to improve the culture around cyclists as legitimate road users, through changes in legislation, education and training for all road users.

Given the rising injury rates in cyclists, we need government and road safety organisations to act now to provide a safer environment for cyclists.

Update 23. I love it when someone asks a simple question and the respondent has to immediately start moralising. I came across this in this Good Food (1) article, where a reader asked question about adding too much salt to their cooking. Certainly the question could have been phrased better, but the initial response wasn’t necessary, especially when salt may not be bad for you (2):

(1) If you mean that you are consistently cooking and eating very salty food then you will probably die, most likely from cardiovascular disease. See your doctor.

(2) Salt contains sodium and chloride, which regulate muscle contractions, nerve function, blood pressure and fluid balance. Some people may be more sensitive to the effects of a high-salt diet than others.

Salt is an important part of the diet and its components play essential roles in your body.

However, for some people, too much salt may be associated with conditions like an increased risk of stomach cancer and high blood pressure.

Nevertheless, salt affects people differently and may not lead to adverse health effects for everyone.

Update 24. Health workers attacked and abused over hospital smoking ban doesn’t surprise me at all. When patient and family have to attend a hospital, many are smokers and when hospitals make is extremely difficult for a smoker to have a smoke, tensions will naturally erupt. Traralgon Hospital, as an example, has a ban on smoking anywhere on the hospital grounds which, if enforced, would mean patients would have to walk a great distance onto main roads and through traffic to have a smoke, an utterly stupid and dangerous situation (who has the duty of care?). A bit of common sense never goes astray, as long as you can find some:

Rules banning smoking outside Victoria’s public hospitals could be reviewed because health workers are being attacked and abused while trying to police the policy.

Calls for an audit of the ban are being led by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, which is concerned nurses are being put in danger.

“We’re hearing that the policing of the ban actually leads to violence and aggression against our members,” union state secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said.

Update 25. And we now have 34 high-profile Nanny State adherents fat shaming Australians. After all the effort being put into not stigmatising people by their body shape and size, these abhorrent groups are perpetuating a stereotype that is as bad as racism and perpetuates white privilege:

Fat shaming is pervasive in society today in the form of anti-obesity campaigns that perpetuate fat stigma, and the discrimination obese individuals experience in the workplace and the health care system.

While promoting the voices of fat people, we must also recognise fat people are not a homogeneous group.

Fat people of colour have different experiences than fat people with white privilege.

Update 26. Good luck with changing bicycle helmet laws, the Nanny State adherents will fight any proposed changes to their last taxpayer funded pay cheque:

Bicycle Network reviews its policy on mandatory helmet laws

Brought in more than a quarter-century ago, the laws have long fuelled arguments: yes, helmets prevent injuries, but how many people are discouraged from cycling by making them compulsory? What is the net effect of the laws on population health?

Nevertheless, government agencies and health and safety organisations remain firmly committed to the status quo, with Professor Rebecca Ivers of the George Institute this week warning against any change to the laws.

Update 27. This is something that I absolutely do not understand. Why is something that could stop smoking being objected to by the Public Health Association of Australia? British e-cigarette advocate urges Australian government to lift ban and save lives. These objectors should be sued by every single person that wants to give up smoking, but is banned from trying a method that is recommended and proven to work overseas. You simply have to question the motives.

Legalising e-cigarettes in Australia could make smoking obsolete and save lives, a British electronic cigarette advocate is poised to tell a parliamentary inquiry in Canberra this week.

“England’s official ‘Stoptober’ quit-smoking campaign even recommends switching to e-cigarettes in TV ads currently on air,” he said.

“Banning e-cigarettes is sometimes dressed up in the language of the ‘precautionary principle’, but when you have almost 3 million Australians doing something we are certain is very harmful, then banning an alternative is more reckless than it is cautious.”

…the Public Health Association of Australia warned that if the ban was lifted, smoking behaviour may become “re-normalised”. It said the best way to quit was to go “cold turkey”.

Update 28. The Health Nazis never sleep, E-cigarette ban in smoke-free areas of NSW attracts Government support:

Calls to ban electronic cigarettes in smoke-free areas of New South Wales, as has already been done in five other states, have now been backed by the State’s Health Minister who is siding with the country’s top health organisations.

Several groups like the Cancer Council, Council on Smoking Health, and Heart Foundation urged the NSW Government to legislate the change.

“We don’t actually know what’s in the e-cigarette vapour, you could be sitting on a bus and the person sitting next to you using an e-cigarette could actually have nicotine in it and you’re breathing in that vapour,” said Wendy Oakes from the Heart Foundation.

“Also, if people are using e-cigarettes on buses, in offices, in trains, in cafes, in restaurants, that’s going to be really difficult for those people who have quit smoking to actually maintain that.”

Update 29. Once again the cry for more taxes arises and is heavily supported by the usual culprits. Seriously, if sugar was such a dangerous product, don’t tax it, regulate its use. But no, it’s always more tax (and the mountains of evidence is much like that for global warming, just cherry pick and fabricate the evidence):

Take the tax being proposed for sugary drinks. Despite the mountains of evidence pointing to the public health benefits of adopting this fiscal approach, powerful vested interests have muddied the waters and convinced politicians to go against the prevailing evidence.

According to the World Health Organisation, a sugary drinks tax would work much the same way as tobacco excises have — as a price signal designed to discourage a behaviour the WHO says is a leading cause of obesity and type-2 diabetes.

Update 30. A new year and a new assault by the dogooders commences. The first was the assault on sugar, with the usual cries to tax users until they bleed. Hot on it’s trail comes the usual cries about salt. I’m just waiting for the trifecta to roll in and fat to be added to the New Year’s moaning. But what gets me about all of this is that all these medical ‘experts’ etc push for all manner of controls over what are basically natural products that are essential to life and that have been used for millennia, yet on the other hand push for drug injecting centres. I’m just wondering when these centres will be issuing free drugs along with the free (aka taxpayer funded) needles, nurses, counsellors etc. Sugar, salt and fat should be made illegal and then maybe users can access such facilities themselves, they just have to bring along their illegally obtained salt, sugar and fat, along with their meat and potatoes. I just hope these centres provide the BBQs.

Update 31. I think we have reached Peak Stupid, ‘We banned cigarette ads – now we should ban car ads, too‘:

A ban on car advertising may seem far-fetched, but if you compare the automotive and the tobacco industries, the similarities may be closer than you think. Smoking and car use have comparable health costs, yet while we have the strictest tobacco promotion laws in the world, we allow car companies to promote themselves unbridled.

Arwen Birch is an environmental educator.

Update 32. Some may laugh at this, but it just shows how far the nanny state has gone in some countries, ‘Free range kids: Children can now play outside without adult supervision in Utah‘:

The Governor of Utah signed the country’s first measure to formally legalize allowing kids to do things on their own without adult supervision. It’s being referred to as free-range parenting.

Play at a park, bike to the store, walk to school — all activities children in Utah can now legally perform alone, without parental supervision.

Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, the House sponsor of the bill, told The Salt Lake Tribune this bill “is to prevent in Utah a problem that has happened in too many other states … where parents have been prosecuted, gotten in trouble for doing nothing more than allowing a child to play outside or go to the park.”

Update 33. Only in California, ‘Cancer experts say coffee is safe, despite California’s new warning label requirement‘:

A California court judge’s ruling ordering coffee companies to put cancer warning labels on their products is not changing the minds of scientists and health professionals who say there is no credible evidence to warrant the dramatic move.

Some say that despite any well-meaning intention that may have prompted the ruling by Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle on Wednesday, it could end up unnecessarily confusing and even frightening people.

Too many health warnings can also have the unintended effect of overwhelming people and confusing them, and causing them to tune out both important and less urgent information, he added.

“It could be counterproductive, people start to pay less attention.”

Update 34. You almost have to admire how the proponents of sugar etc tax find justification for these taxes. Now it’s a question of, ‘Will taxing sugary soft drinks, alcohol and tobacco help the poor?‘. And of course it will, as the poor will now be healthier and live longer by not being able to enjoy what the wealthy enjoy, but they’ll still be poor:

A major study examining ways of stemming the rising rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) worldwide has concluded that taxes on unhealthy products such as sugary soft drinks, alcohol and tobacco would produce major health gains for the poorest members of society. This is contrary to the common argument that these “lifestyle taxes” would unfairly harm low-income households.

Examining data from 13 countries, evidence was found to suggest that high-income households consume much more alcohol, soft drinks and snacks, compared to low-income households. This means that taxes on these products would generate significantly more revenue from high-income segments of society.

The data also suggested that rising the prices of products does in fact change the behavior of lower-income households. As a case study, a sugary soft-drink tax in Mexico was cited in depth. In 2014, the country instituted a 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. After one year, the results showed a 12 percent overall reduction in purchases of taxed beverages, with a 17 percent decrease in lower-income households.


11 thoughts on “The Nanny State

  1. David Ruether

    You have made an excellent argument here against the specific areas covered in the above – and such nonsense is just beginning here in the US with an increased tax on sugar-content in soft (non-alcoholic) beverages. But it did appear that in “The Good Old Days” that you were covering something quite different, and bemoaning the speed of social changes – which for you may seem “too rapid”, but for the affected “minorities” in our societies, these changes took FAR too long to be realized (as in, “several life-times”!) for people with racial, gender, gender-identity, ethnicity, disability, wealth, etc. differences to be treated equally under the law. What I “heard” from you is the complaint voiced here by many white, straight, males that “their rights” were being attacked as those of others were being enhanced, and that “things were moving too fast”, both of which are absurd from the point of view of the affected minorities (and from the point of view of those in the majority who can think beyond their own narrow interests).

    With limited time for accomplishing needed changes in our society, it was interesting to me to watch how Obama carefully worked toward effecting some difficult changes – and he did eventually succeed in achieving legal equality (including in marriage) for gays, and for people of different gender identity from that of their birth-condition. And, with the addition of women, he opened all services in the military to include those groups. For this (and other, similar efforts for racial minorities), he is hated by many who see this as an assault on “their” privileges(!), instead of what this represents in terms of societal advancement.

    Perhaps I misread “The Good Old Days”…?


    1. Ray Post author

      I understand what you are saying and that really wasn’t what I was talking about, though I am concerned with developments such as gender neutral toilets etc which, from my reading of what’s happening in the US, is kind of disconcerting and concerning. If what I read from news reports from the US is true, then it’s being taken advantage of by all manner of miscreants. That’s the sort of unintended consequences that are often not taken into account.

        1. Ray Post author

          I appreciate your concerns, but I’ve edited the majority of your post because I don’t really want to get into international politics and the like, as this blog is really about issues that apply to and affect Australia, especially Victoria and Gippsland.

  2. Pellicle

    Hey Ho … glad to see you posting still … its been a while since I’ve heard a word from you “over there” but I’m glad to see your still kikkin.

    Best Wishes

    1. Ray Post author

      Thanks. I’m finding photography combined with writing a lot more productive and enjoyable to boot.

        1. Ray Post author

          No arguments so far, but I’m always willing to have a reasoned debate over any issue. At no time in history has there been an opportunity like we have now to discuss things so easily and readily. Mind you, that can be a double edged sword.

  3. Nina Moreno

    I enjoy a lot your style of photography, you have a good eye to capture the beauty of nature … and i have to say you have great photo journalism technique too.

  4. Manfred

    ‘The Nanny State’ – exhaustive as it is depressing to read – thank you. Much of it I was aware of and useful to see it drawn together. It presents the relentless ogre of the ‘Ministry of We Know Best For Your Own Good’, and demonstrates the immoral use of taxation to modify behaviour, which is no place for elected government. Further it demonstrates the infinite capacity of ‘policy based evidence’ to encroach on an individuals’ liberty and choice.

    In recent years when visiting Australia I have been struck by the expanding array of ‘do not do …’ , seemingly a society wrapped in a litany of trivial rules micromanaging behaviour. It is similar though not quite as pervasive in New Zealand. I wonder whether this is because our wider society, parenting and education system has failed to develop considerate, well mannered adults, instead a stream of chronically angry and frustrated powerless people determined to express their declining ‘rights’ without consideration of others. So the government justifies ‘in loco parentis’ and further intervention in the positive feedback loop of declining individual autonomy. Time to reverse this! More than time. And I am also reminded by the alco-gatres of the various supranational goals promulgated by the UN and readily adopted by the EU and other UN designated anational World Trading Regions. It is evident that the UN has far removed itself from the core necessity of peace and aid. It must be returned to these. The self-appointed mandate of Global Administration seems little more than administration by totalitarian bureaucracy.

    UN General Assembly. August 2015
    Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
    Sustainable Development Goals and targets
    Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
    3.5 Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol
    3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
    3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination
    3.a Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries, as appropriate
    3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks

    Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
    12.1 Implement the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries

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