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Feb 08

The Nanny State

As a South African, I used to look for signs of the “Nanny State” creeping into our society. We all seemed to be aware of how the UK and US had much more rigorous and seemingly petty laws that seemed to make it impossible for people to act on anything without being forewarned.

These often manifest themselves in warning labels appearing at every single viewing angle of every single thing… mind the gap, caution hot coffee, watch your head, do not open while in motion… To me these have always indicated that the state has taken on the responsibility of thinking for their people. I mean, come on, you know the coffee is hot when you order it, watch out before you drink it and whatever you do, don’t spill it all over yourself (ok – the oft recited McDonalds hot coffee case is not as cut and dried as I always thought it was and there really was good reason to take the burger flipping giant to court). But all of these things are what I would consider as being symptomatic of a “Nanny State”

So what is my definition of a Nanny State?
Well, it’s fairly straight forward.
A Nanny State is an environ in which subjects/citizens do not have to worry about the consequences of their actions because they do not take action outside of what the State has mandated as permissible for them. The State makes this possible by advancing laws and regulation that forces purveyors of anything to anticipate all potential thoughts of their clientèle and map these out so that the individuals concerned need only raise an eye to read what they have to do next.

So that’s not maybe the most conventional definition, but it works for me.

Wikipedia says this: –

Nanny state is a pejorative used to reference a state of protectionism, economic interventionism, or regulatory policies (of economic, social or other nature), and the perception that these policies are becoming institutionalized as common practice. Opponents of such policies use the term in their advocacy against what they consider as uninvited and damaging state intervention.

I always thought that the failures of a nanny state were all centred around loss of freedom but boy was I wrong.

Having lived in the UK for almost a year and a half now, I have had on occasion the opportunity to use the nanny state provided health care systems on a few occasions and i have to say that it has left me pining for the smooth efficiency (albeit not the exorbitant cost) of the South African medical professionals…

No-one in the UK seems to want to actually make a decision for fear of being held accountable.

Doctors don’t prescribe medication until they have taken blood, sputum and whatever else samples they want to send off to a laboratory who will then determine what medicine is most suited for that sample…

Someone else does it, someone else is responsible, nobody takes responsibility.

Ok, maybe I am a bit jaded in my very few experiences at the doctors and definitely from having been a privileged South African, and I am just not seeing the wood for the trees.

I mean seriously, free medical, it may be slow, it may be inaccurate, but it is free and it does work. Maybe it is just my past experiences of having high powered doctors who are paid for the number of people they see and dealing with pharmacists who are qualified to treat any number of minor ailments… Maybe I should get off my high horse.

Who knows…

/soapbox rant/