Nanny strikes again

Australia is a free country. That means you can do whatever you like, so long as it’s peaceful and voluntary. If you want to buy a pencil, no problem. If you want to play monopoly with your family, that’s OK too. You can even go for a walk in the park, phone your mum, brush your teeth or wear an Hawaiian shirt. You can do all of this and the government won’t get involved at all.

But of course, we don’t want to get carried away with freedom. So Australia isn’t totally free. To protect us from ourselves, the government has banned various forms of drugs, various forms of marriage, various things you can say, various types of sports, various types of home renovations, various types of food, opening various sorts of business and plenty more.

Yeah, yeah… I can hear the cynics saying that freedom means the freedom to ‘make mistakes’ and that even under teh most totalitarian regimes people were ‘free’ to do as they were told.

Fine. But we can still say that Australians are mostly free, and are still allowed to make some mistakes. Indeed, we are free to set our watches to the wrong time, free to wear ugly clothes, free to get questions wrong at trivia night and various other mistakes. So really, our government is still quite tolerant of us silly humans.

But not too tolerant. Even if we allow people to make mistakes, the government is still there to tell us how to live.

Don’t eat too much. Especially the wrong food. More veges. Exercise more. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. OK, you can have one or two. But not three! Put on sunscreen. Put on a condom. Put on your seatbelt. Put on a helmet. Use a different sort of lightbulb. Don’t cut down that tree. Stop using plastic bags. Do your civic duty and have a kid. Make sure you vote. Take the stimulus and spend. But also save more. Or something.

And in the spirit of our modified, controlled, bureaucratic, semi-“freedom”, the government has sent me a lovely little pamphlet telling me (with my own money) that I should really buy some better boots if I’m going to ride my motorbike. I would have bought them, but unfortunately I gave my ‘boot money’ to the government so that they could tell me to buy boots.

It’s not fair to say that the government sounds like my mum. My mum is much more tolerant of my choices and doesn’t spend billions of dollars pestering me every day. Thanks mum.

I’m not going to get carried away. I recognise that I still have important freedoms, like the right to make (officially approved) spaghetti in my (officially approved) kitchen. They still let me play some (approved) computer games, hang out with my friends (as long as they don’t belong to a bike gang) and they don’t yet pester me with their opinion about which aftershave to use (as long as it has been approved).

And unlike those poor guys in Nth Korea, I am allowed to turn off the radio. Even the government broadcaster.

But still, I object.

I understand that some people want to be told how to live. That’s fine. Join a religion, join a club, marry somebody who is bossy. Outsource your own decisions all you like, but please leave me alone.

10 thoughts on “Nanny strikes again

  1. “Don’t eat too much. Especially the wrong food. More veges. Exercise more. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. OK, you can have one or two. But not three! Put on sunscreen. Put on a condom. Put on your seatbelt. Put on a helmet. Use a different sort of lightbulb. Don’t cut down that tree. Stop using plastic bags. Do your civic duty and have a kid. Make sure you vote. Take the stimulus and spend. But also save more. Or something.”
    Lol… I’m glad you emphasised the fact that this is a cultural issue where the majority of people really do want to be told how to live (or more precisely, have everyone else be told how to live).
    Still don’t get what you guys think going into politics is going to achieve though.
    In any case, I take solace in the fact that the more productive and aspirational people this stupid welfare state needs to leach off to survive also happen to be the most supportive of free minds and free markets. What we need is for people to be more mobile, which I happening more and more. Nothing else will achieve much in my opinion.

  2. You’re still free to complain about being controlled. Although perhaps letting people wear Hawaiian shirts is a sign of a bit too much freedom. 😉

    Speaking of mistakes* if you really want your lifestyle restricted then have kids. The claims that governments make on your time and finances are nothing compared to children. People with children look to the government with hopes of liberation. Your mum doesn’t boss you around because she is just so damn pleased you left home. She loves you though, so she probably isn’t going to tell you directly. But every minute you’re out and about making a mess of the world (and experimenting with lightbulbs and dodgy black market shaving products) is one less minute you’re messing up the house.

    As an aside my wife thinks the term “Nanny State” is sexist and an insult to the fine profession of nannies.

    _______
    *before anybody tells DOCS it is just a joke okay!!

  3. p.s. My wife has suggested the alternate term of “Daddy State” however I think that’s an insult to fathers. Sure we boss the kids around and tell them what to do however we really are benevolent dictators. When we give the kids stuff it isn’t merely stuff we stole off them earlier.

  4. TerjeP, I will stick to the Nanny-State, because I hope for a nano-state, and the contrast between the two similar-sounding words is pure poetry. Daddy-state has no good poetic contrast. (Daddo-state? rule by Cameron Daddo?)

  5. Speaking of nanny states, there was an amusing story in yesterday’s paper about a green nutjob choosing to live in a cave. A stupid idea perhaps, but it was on his own land, so he wasn’t exactly hurting anyone.

    But then the council investigated, and decided the cave didn’t have enough fire exits – and so got an injunction banning him from entering it. The man is now appealing to a higher left-wing authority – the European Court of Human Rights.

    Banning someone from a cave on their own property is pretty extreme nanny-statism… but maybe he was a serial pest? According to “authorities”, he was:

    Authorities tried to evict Mr Purbrick in 1999 after they claimed he was running an illegal vegetable shop.

    But he defeated the attempt by arguing he only had one customer, a pregnant woman who bought his sprouts, the Daily Mail said.

    Authorities had also claimed he was keeping chickens and bees without permission.

    However bad the nanny state is in Australia, the UK is many, many times worse.

  6. I thought this was amusing, Michael, from the article you linked to re; Rudd’s “crackdown” on home births:

    ” Inconsistencies of SA Posted at 11:09pm June 19, 2009

    Women have the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy but they don’t have the right to choose to deliver at home? How inconsistent is this???”

  7. While’s it’s a great ctachphrase, I’m not sure ‘nanny state’ goes far enough to describe some of the idiotic rules the government imposes ‘for the public good’.

    A competent Nanny will take into account each child’s strengths and weaknesses, let them take risks, and give them as much independence as they can handle in order to develop their confidence.

    I don’t know of any government that operates this way. The current lot are more like the infamous ‘helicopter parents’ – always hovering by their childs side in case they get into trouble,

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