Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why the nanny state is destructive and should be rolled back

Never before have we had such an array of nanny state legislation to "guide" us and tell us whats good for us. From how we drive cars, ride bikes, what we can eat, what substances are restricted down to how we advertise and market products and the content and classification of entertainment, the almighty government has the final word.

In Victoria, Steve Bracks managed to first ban smoking in restaurants, then public places and sporting events, then at workplaces and even within 10 metres of exits, and finally in gaming venues, bars and nightclubs. The dangers of smoking have been well understood for a long time. People have always been free to choose if they smoke or not. This should be the end of the issue.

But the subtle difference between smoking and lets say, alcohol, is the externality of 2nd hand smoke. You see, according to anti-smoking activists, people are mindless sheep held captive and they must sit still as 2nd hand smoke reaches their lungs. Therefore, they say that it is a violation of your rights if somebody lights a cigarette in a venue, even if they have the approval of the venue's management. I am sympathetic to this argument, but it doesn't hold much merit, especially if you agree to enter a venue which has a policy that allows smoking.

And what of cigar bars and pubs and clubs where a majority of people want to smoke ? Or perhaps everybody wants to smoke ?

Tough luck.

When the nanny state bans something, they do not moderate their approach or judge on a case by case basis. Its written into law, with venues facing massive fines and prison sentences for defying the regulations. The result - Fidel's cigar bar at Crown Casino is out of business. A fine venue where people could enjoy the finest cigars and drinks in the most opulent setting - all set to go out of business.

And the amount of revenue lost by clubs and bars and hotels is hard to measure. The problem with the nanny state is that eventually, if something isn't considered good for you, it will be banned. Letting people decide for themselves is so out of fashion these days.