Saturday, 1 May 2010

We Are Not Alone

Do you want the good news first, or the bad?

On the plus side, this article, which deserves reproduction in full, describing the astonishingly illiberal nature of newly-passed anti-tobacco legislation in New Zealand, shows that we libertarian Brits are not alone in resisting quite astonishingly mendacious politicians.

So, the New Zealand government has voted 118-4 to increase the sin tax on tobacco. The funny thing is, the move was led by the Maori party, whose supporters contain a disproportionate number of smokers who probably don’t want a tax increase, and supported by the centre-right National party, who campaigned on an anti-nanny state platform. I’m with Eric on this:

You know who I really feel bad for? The folks who voted National thinking they’d get less nanny-state as consequence. And, worse, the folks who campaigned for them on that basis. Think harder about it next time, guys.
While I know most politicians don’t feel the need to justify the passing of laws, surely there must be some among those 118 who think that there should be some sort of reason.

Do we need to increase tobacco taxes to pay for the costs of smoking on the health system? Nope: smokers pay more than their share. On that basis, we’d decrease the excise tax considerably.

Does ignorance among smokers as to the true health costs of smoking undermine the welfare-maximising tendency of free choice, meaning we need to force people to do what they’d do given full information. Nope. Even if you think ignorance justifies coercion, the fact is that people radically overestimate the health risks of smoking. If we wanted to encourage people to make the decisions they’d make if they were fully informed, we’d subsidize tobacco.

The real reason for increasing the excise tax on tobacco is a combination of arrogant paternalism and bigotry. Turia and Key think they know what’s best for you better than you do yourself and see smokers as disgusting deviants who must be punished. As Joseph Gusfield (writing about alcohol) says:

As his own claim to social respect and honor are diminished, the sober, abstaining citizen seeks for public acts through which he may reaffirm the dominance and prestige of his way of life. Converting the sinner to virtue is one way; law is another.
Anyone in favour of the increase care to offer another explanation?
Unfortunately, while we aren't alone in objecting, so does this prove that other countries aren't alone in being bullied by the same alliance of mendacious politicians and their rent-seeking allies.

It's going to be quite a task to get our elected representatives to stop lying to us and actually act on their promises. On this issue alone, Labour UK in 2005 reneged on their manifesto commitment to a partial smoking ban but have gone far, far further without any recognisable mandate. For a party to gain electoral success in New Zealand on a specifically anti-nanny state agenda, only to then kick their voters and workers in the teeth, surely has to be a damning and worrying development for any country which purports to embrace democracy.

Time to look outside the big parties for electoral inspiration, methinks.


Anonymous said...

New Zealand. ? Am I botherered
about some Antipodean atol, famed
only for farting sheep,bungee
jumping ,suicide and the locals sticking their festering tongues out in greeting.Give it to the Japs for a whaling station.
Wonder what the carbon footprint of a lamb chop is.?

Chuckles said...

I suspect a 5 min search would find the filthy grasping hand of the WHO and the UN co-ordinating all of this, and funded by our nicotine patch Pharma colleagues.

Must be some way we can nail them on an international conspiracy/racketeering rap?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon @ 13:10: You're right that we shouldn't be bothered about attacks on New Zealand smokers. Just as we were correct in not really caring much when California and New York enacted smoking bans, and why we should continue to not give a rat's arse whether Spain tighten up their smoking ban or not.

After all, it's nothing to do with us, is it?

Paul said...

New Zealand was sold to me as a land of lamb chop, mash and baked bean lunches, freedom from the state, a friendly populace, a general absence of authoritarian bigotry and a friendly climate.

I take it that picture I've just painted isn't true then?


Will S. said...

Canada's the same, regarding politicians doing exactly the opposite of what they ran on. Many years ago, when running for office, Pierre Trudeau campaigned against wage and price controls, then promptly instituted them once elected. When running for the Progressive Conservative leadership, Peter MacKay promised a rival who threw his support to him, that he wouldn't engage in merger talks with the Alliance, which he promptly did as soon as he became leader. There are many other examples, but those two leap to mind.

And in America, the last President, Bush, ran on an anti-interventionist foreign policy platform, taking Al Gore to task for what the Clinton administration had done, in getting America involved in Bosnia, the Sudan, etc. We all know how that turned out; as soon as 9/11 gave him the excuse, he got America into Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11.

They lie and backstab each other, and us. Hard to find a reason to bother voting for any of them; I certainly don't.

Anonymous said...

Yea it always makes me snigger when I see commenters banging on about leaving the UK because of the dreadfull control freakery etc.
However there is no where in the western world to run to.
This desease spread years ago.
We all know how.
The UN
The so called NWO.
This is no conspiracy theory anymore.
It is an observable fact.

Will S. said...

It doesn't matter what country in the West one considers; all are infected with nanny-statism and one-worldism, and nowhere is demonstrably far better than anywhere else, only slightly at best, and only for now; it will get worse everywhere before it gets better, if it does.