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Nanny State

Entry 442, on 2006-12-12 at 17:37:22 (Rating 3, Politics)

I occasionally listen to commentary on political matters from people who might be broadly described as libertarians. They promote freedom for individuals and want to minimise the influence of the state. I generally point out that, while these ideas seem fine in principle, they fall down badly when the details are examined. For example, for every freedom we gain by lessening the influence of the government, we often lose one because of the increased power of corporations, employers, etc. But maybe I'm now beginning to see their point...

I have noticed that the government here in New Zealand seems to think it needs to legislate to protect citizens from all sorts of self-imposed hazards, and I have to agree with the libertarians that is is getting rather annoying. The latest is the suggestion that the government will legislate against using cell phones in cars. This follows some accidents where the driver has been using a cell phone while driving. Of course, you would expect a few accidents involving people using phones even if the phone didn't cause the crash, but an analysis of that degree of detail seems unnecessary.

Why do we need laws covering this? We all know that doing anything that reduces our attention to driving is potentially dangerous. Will we need laws to stop us loading the car's CD player, drinking coffee, talking to our passenger, etc while driving? I'm sure there have been more accidents caused by these than by cell phones.

The problem might be that many members of the older generation don't like cell phones and don't appreciate the way many people rely on them so heavily. I think its easier to criticises a technology which already has this bias against it. I know I get criticised by many of my more technically conservative friends and family for my apparently permanent attachment to my gadgets, including cell phone, iPod, laptop, and camera.

So another silly law will probably be passed and another restriction on our freedom will be put in place. I have to borrow a libertarian phrase here: "nanny state". Soon we won't need to think for ourselves because every possible decision will be covered by some law created by our overbearing leadership!


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