Nanny state wants to take your lifestyle liberty away

CS LEWIS warned that "tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. The robber baron’s cruelty (and) cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience".

The Beverley Sisters sang: "If there’s something you enjoy you can be certain that it’s illegal or immoral or makes you fat". This is the Department of Health’s new theme song.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is on a roll. He wants new policies to make us the world’s healthiest country, starting with graphic tobacco package warnings (cancerous body parts); plain packaging (no pretty colours or logos); forbidden displays (out of reach, sight and temptation); no smoking in so-called public places; and a tobacco-free planet by 2040.

Ensuing measures that follow logically include prohibition of liquor ads, warnings and images of diseases on liquor bottles and limits on salt, sugar and caffeine allowed in food. New York’s prohibition of large sweet drinks and the UK’s prohibition of sweet sales to fat children may follow. The logic of plain-package cigarettes may be extended to junk-food outlets: no appealing colours or logos for McDonald’s, Wimpy or KFC. Images of burgers and ice cream will be replaced by photos of surgeons cutting fat from obese bellies and junk-food sales to underage children will be banned. Road carnage measures include e-tag governors to make it impossible to speed, run red lights or drive without seat belts. Cars will be adorned with health warnings and images of mangled bodies.

Departmental spokeswoman Precious Mzimbela points out that improved public health will supplant the need to fix dysfunctional public healthcare. "We won’t need better hospitals if people are healthy. Prohibition of preventable problems is a win-win solution. Since coercion is accepted for drug prohibition and tobacco control, there’s no rational argument against taking the principle to its logical conclusion." She regards critics concerned about health authoritarianism as "merchants of death" and "fronts for big business", dismissing as "irrelevant" the fact that the government collects more sin tax and revenue from road users than it spends on victims.

According to an unreleased discussion document, liquor is "worse than tobacco because it causes road carnage, family abuse, disease, gambling, occupational dysfunction and promiscuity". It suggests "natural policy evolution" towards comparable measures for "contact sport and caffeine and chocolate".

Motsoaledi wants tobacco prohibition by 2040 because "tobacco has no known benefits". He doesn’t regard enhanced satisfaction, stimulation and concentration; or reduced inhibition, stress, obesity, fatigue and alcohol consumption; or the tobacco industry’s jobs and taxes, as benefits.

According to Wits family health professor, Helvetia Pleasánt, there is scientific consensus that junk food, dangerous activities, sweets, fizzy drinks, obesity, premarital and extramarital sex and public cycling or walking need stricter regulation. "Most alcohol-related road carnage isn’t people in cars — it’s drunk cyclists and pedestrians."

All this flows naturally from the supposed "success of antitobacco controls". For conspiracy theorists, there’s nothing sexier than health activism. "Success" doesn’t mean tobacco and liquor control reduce consumption, but that there are higher taxes, less liberty, and court victories. US law forces the tobacco industry to fund antismoker fanaticism directly. Here, there’s funding via tobacco taxes. Most countries have similar symbiotic relationships between professional nicotine Nazis and sustained smoking. Such contradictions characterise most nanny state activism, especially liquor puritanism.

Of course, not all of this is true, but more is than is generally realised, and all of it is the logical conclusion of what is true. Condoning the loss of some lifestyle liberty condones losing all liberty. If we do not stop the march of antifreedom activists, they will not stop until all lifestyle and liberty is lost.

Source:This article was first published in Business Day, 07 November 2012 and may be republished without prior consent but with acknowledgement to the author. The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.

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