Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the nanny state « Previous | |Next »
October 21, 2009

The Nanny State refers to state protectionism, economic interventionism, or regulatory policies (of economic, social or other nature), and the perception that these policies are becoming institutionalized as common practice. It is used to refer to the Rudd Government and it is argued that we liberal citizens should boldly resist this attempt to strangle our basic freedom.


Thus Julie Novak, a research fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs, says that the National Health Preventative Taskforce is proposing to use 'nudge' social arrangements to ensure that 2020 Australians should be beer-refusing, meat pie-avoiding non-smokers.

The 'nudging' is designed to stop us from eating, drinking and smoking anything the government disapproves of. The Rudd Government desires to control what we put into our bodies, and this statism stands for a "coercive utopia".

Novak acknowledges that preventative health arises because of the blowout of future health care costs to save lives and reduce health costs:

It is argued that governments need to get involved in people's consumption choices because of potential health problems that are borne by taxpayers through the health system....This argument runs the risk of degenerating into slippery slope arguments for even more prescriptive controls over individual choices. For example, should individuals not drive cars any more so that public hospitals do not bear the costs of treatment if car accidents befall them? The health system exists for people to use, and should be separated as far as possible from questions of individual choice.

This is misleading. The issue is about drinking and driving and causing harm to others. Secondly, it is liberals, horrified by the blowout of the health budget, who have proposed that individuals take responsibility for their ill health---eg., obesity. This self discipline is done to counter what they call an "entitlement mentality", by which is meant that individuals expect that governments will step in to fix any and all problems that may arise.

Novak's position is that our precious liberties (negative freedom) have to be left intact. So how does she propose to improve our health? She says that:

it can also be argued that there are more effective research paths to help improve our health and life expectancy.Think of the serious, cutting edge research and development into new drugs by pharmaceutical companies that often require billions of dollars but promise massive payoffs.

So she is effectively speaking for the drug companies and for a pharmaceutical approach to preventive health care. This approach to health care is not argued for.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:11 PM | | Comments (6)


entrepreneurs as rugged individualists would protest over most government intervention as stifling creativity.From their perspective excessive controls are placed on us constantly by government.

A very suitable response to this simplistic reductionism is the recent book by Sharon Beder titled This Little Kiddie Went To Market.

Needless to say Sharon Beder is not much liked at the IPA.

Indeed Sharon points out that it is the right wing "free" market think tanks that have largely helped to create the situation(s) described in the book.

A situation where children are bombarded by 24/7 consumerist messages, and corporate logos from day one.

So, according to the illogic from Novak, governments making kiddies at school do phys ed is restricting their freedoms, and waste money on school footballs, basketballs, and sell off the useless playgrounds for development, when all we've gotta do is bend over for drug companies. (I wonder if the illogic of Novak extends to the PBS that hands over oodles of cash to drug companies).

Every drug has side effects, needing drugs to fight em,
but those drugs too have side effects,
and so ad infinitum.

That circle must be bliss for Novak's sponsors.

I have a different take. To me, it is clear that the ALP government remains totally committed to neo-liberal economic thinking. It does not see the public as a nation of people, but as units of production and consumtion. It therefore wishes to impose rules and regulations which damage us and impede our ability to perform our vital (to the economic overlord class) tasks as serfs and consumers.

The notion that we should have a good time from time to time and that life can be worth living totally escapes these types.

Miranda Devine on the nanny state in Fairfax's National Times:

The phrase nanny state is a cliche but that is because government intrusion in our lives is so pervasive we barely protest. ...The worst thing about nanny statism is that even in the most resourceful person it induces a state of learned helplessness and complacency, in which, for instance, a mother no longer keeps alert to dangers in her child's environment because she thinks ''they'' will do it for her..... Lulling people into a false sense of security potentially endangers more lives as parents and carers lose the commonsense skills needed to monitor and identify potential dangers.

So that's why I cannot do things for myself--it's not because I'm sick. It's the nanny state caring for me to help me get better.

My brain has gone because of my dependence on the public health system!

I'm sure the rugged, clever, resourceful individuals who head Bear Stearns, General Motors, Freddie Mac, Merrill Lynch, AIG and Citigroup would find the "nanny state" truly distasteful.