Nanny State 911
This just in from The Telegraph:
I HATE HTML
I’m not sure which part of this story scares me more – the idea that the British government feels entitled to micro-manage the lives of its subjects – or the idea that a frighteningly large number of pet owners appear to have become so far separated from the world of animal husbandry that they now need detailed instruction manuals to care for their pets.
But wait – maybe these aren’t really two different issues…
In a related, and even more alarming, note BBC Newsreports (note, the bolding is mine):
So now the goal of government is to prevent crimes before they occur? God Save our friends in the UK. And if these kinds of totalitarian ideals spread – God Save us all.
How on earth did we get here? I mean, I understand that avoiding risk is an adaptive trait. We’re hard-wired for it, but this current obsession to avoid allrisk is rapidly turning into a form of mass psychosis… and our governments have, quite literally, become world class enablers – not just encouraging, but now also legislating, the self-destructive spiral of decreasing personal irresponsibility and increasing bureaucratic control.
There is an increasing expectation that the government should must take care of us and protect us from all risk and danger. The government is now viewed by many as a necessary force to protect the value of our homes, prevent our corporations from going bankrupt and save us from buying, using, eating or even doing any thing that poses risk.
When we substitute governmental protection for personal responsibility, we become more and more willing to cede our personal freedoms as we seek the mythical dream of life without risk. Bit by bit we give up things we see as minor freedoms ‘to acheive a higher good’ – after all – who in their right mind objects to making the world a better safer place?
But where will this incremental process lead us? In a thoughful essay published at Strike the Root, Lee McCracken writes:
The thought that government will look after them has made too many people willing to give up on looking after themselves. People are tempted to use government to shift the costs of their own actions onto others, resulting in an increasingly irresponsible populace, and a riskier world. If someone else is picking up the tab, why not order the steak? When people are forced to bear the costs of their own behavior themselves, they tend to make more rational choices, which actually does result in a less risky world. The attempt to use government to stamp out risk is like dousing a fire with oil.
But the strongest argument against the omnipotent Nanny State is that it leads logically to totalitarianism. The only way to completely eliminate risk would be total control of every aspect of life. After all, virtually anything we do in any area of our lives could involve some potential risk, either to ourselves or to others. Eliminating all such risk would require surveillance and regulation beyond the dreams of all the tyrants in history. After all, this kind of control is for our own good. As C. S. Lewis once put it:
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”