Nanny State Nonsense

Most people would have heard of the term ‘nanny state’ which suggests that government is trying to influence too many aspects of our lives.

The increase in intervention is a response to the almost constant call from activists demanding rules surrounding what we eat, drink, wear and do.

Most recently, the Labor Party have agreed to a deal with the independents to introduce a ‘pre-commitment’ scheme for those who play gaming machines in pubs and clubs.

Such a scheme would require anyone who wanted to play a ‘pokie’ to be registered and have every dollar spent tracked through a central computer. When the ‘authorised’ play limit was reached, the player would be frozen out for a defined period of time – most likely 24 hours.

There are many problems with such a scheme.

Firstly, the mere suggestion that an individual cannot put even a single dollar in a gaming machine without being registered offends the most basic of freedoms that we enjoy in this country.

Surely we should be free to choose how we spend our own money?

It also sets incredible double standards in relation to gambling. One can lose tens of thousands of dollars on a horse race or at the casino tables without restriction, yet a pastime enjoyed by millions is risked due to the problems of a few.

This strikes me as neither fair nor prudent.

Advocates for such a scheme maintain that the social cost of problem gambling warrants such intervention – citing reports of the numbers of people struggling with gambling addiction.

But the same argument could be extended to any number of other areas.

There is little doubt that rising obesity levels are impacted by the increased consumption of fast food. Why then isn’t anyone suggesting a monitoring system that limits the number of fast food meals we are allowed to consume every week?

What about having a register of smokers that tracks and limits the number of packets of cigarettes people can buy?

Why stop there? Imagine the benefits of introducing a registered drinker’s card so we can prevent over-purchase and irresponsible consumption of alcohol.

The reason we don’t have such policies is because they are dumb.

Individuals have freedom of choice in this country and one shouldn’t be penalising the millions who do the right thing simply because some struggle to control their own impulses.

The mere suggestion that the government should track and limit what legal goods and services a person may purchase with their own hard-earned money is ludicrous. Yet that is exactly what is being proposed by the government.

Some individuals will always struggle with compulsion and addiction. The answer to their problems is not to treat all Australians as being unable to control themselves.

To do so would be to further devolve personal responsibility in favour of the State, a circumstance that should be resisted at almost any cost.

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