Sorry? I should learn to “love” being nannied? By the state?

Tessa Jowell’s article in yesterday’s Times is disturbing. Not because I didn’t think people actually held views like this, but it is disturbing that this lady is the Culture Secretary (no, I don’t know what that is either) and a senior member of the goverment of my country – a cabinet minister. Her entire article is an argument designed to justify government intervention in unprecedented areas. It is unsurprising that those areas are high on the political agenda in this country right now. Let me show you what I mean.

She starts this excercise by trying to make the point that the limitations to government intervention into private affairs are already blurred – a license for more intervention of course. She says, “It is not easy to define precisely the line between where government interference in private conduct is legitimate and where it isn’t.” I entirely, unequivocally disagree. If my personal actions do not infringe on the equal freedoms of another individual, how/why can it be moral for anyone, including government, to forceably interfere? This is the libertarian principal, which gives the only moral basis for the government of a truly free nation; the line that Tessa Jowell feels is difficult to define. Of course the REAL reason she must prove that it is difficult to define such a line is that she is attempting to justify more government interference. There would be no issue if she was attempting to make an argument for LESS. So lets examine the examples she gives in the light of a libertarian solution rather than her complicated answer.

“It’s not hard to recognise what falls either side: preventing child abuse, domestic violence and drink-driving are … seen as issues of public interest in the realm of private conduct. But where do the following fall: eating habits, smoking, the content of television advertising and physical fitness?” But under a libertarian system, those that fall under the first list would be illegal anyway! Child abuse because abuse would infringe on the rights of a child to freedom from such abuse, domestic violence for the same reason and drink-driving because driving while intoxicated is a direct threat to the equal freedoms of someone else to drive in safety.

Her second list – without ANY principals informing policies (except what is decided pragmatically on an issue-by-issue basis) – are open for any level of government interference, as are an unlimited number of issues relating to private conduct. But her second list – when informed by the libertarian principal above (the principal she found so difficult to define) – are more easy to deal with. No matter what someone’s eating habits are, they are not infringing on the equal freedoms of another individual by having those eating habits. So the government (sorry Tessa) cannot interfere. Similarly if someone smokes, as long as they are not forcing others to breathe their smoke (which can be harmful to their health and therefore is impinging their right to breathe clean air), they are making a decision regarding their own bodies, and the government (sorry, love) has no rights in the realm of something that is not theirs to govern (same goes for physical fitness). Similarly the government does not own a television company, so should have no legislation on the content of their advertising. They want to control commericals? They should start their own station.

Ms Jowell goes on to say, “There are many who consider it ridiculous for the government to take a position on these issues, or most of them.” Count me in on that category, lady.

“I believe we have to treat grown ups as adults, and everyone has to be free to make his or her own choices.” But of course she would be unwilling to say which choices her government will ‘allow’ us to make and which ones she doesn’t think we SHOULD be free to make. The hypocrisy inherent in this statement is astounding.

And I have several problems with this sentence:

“At the same time, however, the government would be failing in its general responsibility to promote the welfare of the country where it can, if it did not give warning and, sometimes, wield the legislative stick.”

1) The government’s general responsibility is NOT to “promote the welfare of the country”; it is to protect by principal the freedom of the individual from coercion by force of others.

2) She doesn’t define “where it can” and where it can’t. In the absence of this clarification we must assume that the government can do whatever it likes, using force to get what it wants.

3) What is this entity that she wishes to promote the welfare of? “The country” is not an individual entity with one communal welfare to promote! It is made up of millions of individuals; it is many, it is NOT one. Each individual is born with a human will and the ability to make for themselves decisions which reflect their natural rationality. This single sentence from Tessa Fricking Jowell undermines completely the rationality of the individual to think for themselves in one fell swoop.

4) The language of wielding “the legislative stick” is an appalling insight to the mind of this government. It genuinely does seem to see the nation as a bunch of unruly schoolkids who are eating too many burgers, emitting too much CO2, not excercising enough, etc. How arrogant, that she delegates the authority that rightly belongs to the individual to make their own choices to herself and her cronies in government.

A disgrace.

I could go on with the rest of this sorry article, but I won’t – to save myself from throwing something in anger, AND because I do not feel this complete tripe deserves any more of my precious time.

(Please feel free to email me on this or any other posts at john-wright@ntlworld.com.)