web analytics

In Defence of the Nanny State

Written By: - Date published: 3:41 pm, February 8th, 2011 - 63 comments
Categories: Social issues - Tags:

I get frustrated with the right claiming “Nanny State” on everything (except when it’s them banning cell-phones when driving etc).  So it was with interest I read famous philosopher Alain de Botton‘s piece on the BBC yesterday: In defence of the nanny state.

As he puts it:

A key assumption of modern politics is that we should be left alone to live as we like without being nagged, without fear of moral judgement. Freedom has become our supreme political virtue.

Sections of the public grow more or less apoplectic at the idea that governments might want to teach us anything. Even modest measures like trying to get people to eat less fatty food or drive less petrol-guzzling cars tends to provoke howls of protest that this is going simply too far.

He makes an interesting point with:

We don’t currently live in a “free” society in the true sense of the term. Every day, our minds are assaulted by commercial messages that reach us from all sides. The whole billion-pound-a-year advertising industry runs counter to any assertion that we’re currently free and un-nudged as it stands.

A libertarian state truly worthy of the name would accept that our freedom is best guaranteed by an entirely neutral public space. It would judge that it was no assault on liberty to deprive us of all advertisements in fields, city streets, taxis, websites, phone booths, tube stations, dentists waiting rooms, airport concourses or Hollywood films.

and:

The true risks to us turn out to be different from those conceived of by libertarians. It is not always or even primarily the case that we find ourselves at the mercy of some external, paternalistic authority whose claims we resent and want to be free of. Only too often, the danger runs in an opposite direction. We face temptations and compulsions which we revile, but which we lack the strength and encouragement to resist, much to our eventual self-disgust and disappointment.

But read the whole thing, as your dose of daily philosophy.  De Botton has actually been doing a whole series of pieces for the Beeb – oh that we should get such high quality content as top philosophers to be in our public broadcasting…

63 comments on “In Defence of the Nanny State”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    oh that we should get such high quality content as top philosophers to be in our public broadcasting…

    That would be nice but it ain’t gonna happen as then the populace will start questioning just what and who is behind the curtain.

    • Zorr 1.1

      His BBC series on Status Anxiety is a good watch.

      • M 1.1.1

        Agree – this series amply demonstrated how people get caught in the ‘more’ trap.

        Thanks Bunji for this article – now, do I have the courage to put it on the wall at work?

  2. TightyRighty 2

    umm, so he states we aren’t we free to make our own choices regarding whether or not to listen to advertising as a reason for more state interference? how patronising

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      We aren’t free and that is simply reality Tighty. If you do not acknowledge that you are simply part of the problem.

      Example. Drive down the motorway into central AKL and see if you can avoid crashing when you look away from every advertisment, billboard and marketing logo there is out there.

      Go into your local supermarket or Warehouse and see if you can do your shopping without hearing a single ad over the PA system.

      We aren’t free.

    • Bunji 2.2

      I’d put it more that with any company with its own agenda being allowed to influence you, why shouldn’t a benign state with you & your community’s interests at heart be allowed to?

      • TightyRighty 2.2.1

        Bunji this is a big concept, but legislation and advertising are two different things.

        Viper, you pathetic excuse for a person, I can choose to not buy something advertised. It’s not difficult. You rail on about consumer capitalism, its the choices that consumers make that are the problem, not the fact people can buy things that other people sell. I never shop at the warehouse. Why buy junk that isn’t even produced locally? This is probably to advanced for you though. Choice, a heady concept I know. Fucking peasant.

        [lprent: And people wonder why I don’t like flamewars – they’re intensely boring to read. ]

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1

          Hey Tighty, don’t get upset mate, you can CHOOSE not to read my comments after all

          😀

          But bet you can’t help yourself

          😀 😀

          Choice, such an interesting phenomenon, eh, why do people choose so badly, so often.

          😀 😀 😀

        • prism 2.2.1.2

          Tighty Righty – I think you made a typing error, I hope. Did you mean to say plucking pheasant, or fucking pleasant?

      • Colonial Viper 2.2.2

        That is correct. Because in most things a starting default position is required anyway. (e.g. Sign up as an organ donor or don’t sign up as an organ donor).

        So might as well make this starting position one which is expertly considered, commercially unbiased and helpful for most people, as opposed to one which is profit driven and helpful for corporate interests.

        • TightyRighty 2.2.2.1

          i repeat, fucking peasant. why would we do anything if it doesn’t increase our utility in some manner. your model is dead. face it.

          • Colonial Viper 2.2.2.1.1

            Still CHOOSING to read my comments I see (in fact according to you, reading MY comments must increase YOUR utility in some manner lol)

            😀

            I CHOOSE to see my model of choice (libertarian paternalism) as being very much alive, thanks. I believe according to you, its my RIGHT to CHOOSE to keep explaining it to people as well.

            😀

          • Zorr 2.2.2.1.2

            Ad hominem attack. A perfect reason to agree with you.

            Oh wait, no it isn’t.

            Why is chocolate icecream so successful if it is just sugar and fat in a tasty package? It provides no necessary nutrition that is not otherwise available. It doesn’t “increase our utility” at all. This isn’t an argument against chocolate icecream, I love the stuff, but it does show the limitations of your argument.

            • TightyRighty 2.2.2.1.2.1

              did you gain pleasure from eating it? your utility increases, utility is not strictly measured by money or goods. simpletons on here today.

              • Colonial Viper

                You’re not so smart yourself 😀

              • Zorr

                Would have hoped (captcha) that life didn’t break down in to an even more farcical version of The Sims… x_x

                I’m done with fighting at your level because I can’t be bothered being dragged down there. Have fun.

    • tighty Righty,

      Not sure if you have heard of Isaiah Berlin? He wrote a famous essay called ‘Two Concepts of Freedom’. It is well-loved by right wing libertarians as it clarifies the notion of negative freedom.

      Interestingly, Isaiah Berlin recognised how deliberate decisions to manipulate preferences and values amounts to a loss of liberty. Notice the examples – highlighted – he provides in that famous essay):

      This makes it clear why the definition of negative liberty as the ability to do what one wishes – which is, in effect, the definition adopted by Mill – will not do. If I find that I am able to do little or nothing of what I wish, I need only contract or extinguish my wishes, and I am made free. If the tyrant (or ‘hidden persuader’) manages to condition his subjects (or customers) into losing their original wishes and embracing (‘internalising’) the form of life he has invented for them, he will, on this definition, have succeeded in liberating them. He will, no doubt, have made them feel free – as Epictetus feels freer than his master (and the proverbial good man is said to feel happy on the rack). But what he has created is the very antithesis of political freedom.

      Isaiah was a smart guy who normally would be counted amongst the ‘friends of freedom’ by the right.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Its pretty clear that people make shit choices on a minute by minute basis. Choices which disadvantage themselves or which are clearly irrational. Occasionally they make good ones but they are relative rarities. Free marketers, financial whizzes and marketing professionals know all of this full well and make good use of it.

    Example. People will happily pay more for anti-terrorist insurance than they will for comprehensive insurance which includes the same anti-terrorist protections.

    Example. People are more likely to vote for the name at the start of a list. If you juggle the names around randomly, they are still more likely to vote for the name at the start of a list.

    Example. If you say to people that shifting power companies will save them $20/month they are less likely to change then if you say to them that staying with their current power company will cost them $20/month extra.

    • Blondie 3.1

      “Its pretty clear that people make shit choices on a minute by minute basis.”

      Like the moron who keeps choosing to read and comment on your comments, in spite of himself?
      Then again, he seems the sort who gains great pleasure (read: utility) in arguing.

      And yes, you’re completely right that one has little choice in one’s exposure to advertising – unless one chooses to join the Amish.

      • Lanthanide 3.1.1

        You can choose to drastically decrease the amount of advertising you see, by doing outdoors activities instead of watching TV, listening to National Radio instead of other stations, putting ‘no junkmail’ sign on your letter box and skipping past ads in magazines/newspapers.

        Unfortunately when you go shopping you’ll most likely be confronted by advertising, either in-store or on-line.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.2

        Thanks Blondie. I don’t think its that controversial. The evidence that people make bad decisions all the time, decisions which hurts their own interests (as well as costing society shed loads of money), literally surrounds us on a daily basis.

        Yeah Lanth, hardly ever watch TV these days. It just hurts the brain.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3

        Don’t watch TV, don’t listen to radio or read the newspaper and ignore the billboards. I use Adblock+ to minimise advertising from the internet. It is possible to get away from advertising – interestingly enough, the amount I was spending also decreased once I did so.

  4. Anthony C 4

    Adam Curtis has a good doco that deals with a similar issue, can’t remember which one it is exactly although it might be The Trap.

  5. I always thought that most nanny state policies could be equated with civility.

    I am also going to go out on a limb here …

    There should be standards for light bulbs so that we only use the efficient sort that last three times as long and only use a fifth of the energy of ordinary light bulbs. For our kids future we have to do this and anyone who jumps up and down and says “nanny state” is an idiot.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      micky, over this kind of thing and shower heads, LAB were simply shit at selling their vision.

      The Left have this awful trait of thinking “this is common sense, therefore people will see it for what it is and will like us for it”.

      Nope.

      If you cannot get the public to buy your vision of an energy efficient, cost saving, power saving, sustainable future within which light bulbs, shower heads and incentives for small cars and public transport are merely the detail within a powerful and common sense larger context its easy to be made vulnerable on each aspect of finicky apparently over-controlling “nanny state” detail.

      Which is what NAT and their advisors exploited extremely successfully, and LAB face planted on.

      Come to think of it, who in the last LAB govt was actually championing to the public an advanced vision for a sustainable future for NZ, her people and our economy?

      • mickysavage 5.1.1

        I agree with you Viper.

        With some policies, especially the really obvious ones Labour should just say “don’t be so stupid. There is a huge benefit here. It is not a matter of choice, it is a matter of what is good for all of us. Bulbs last much longer, are much cheaper to run and save energy.”

        Regrettably a lot of the time our message is not that simple.

    • higherstandard 5.2

      Yes the light bulbs………….. won’t anyone think of the children…….. (wrings hands)

      • mickysavage 5.2.1

        Well hs, efficient light bulbs last longer, use much less power than ordinary bulbs and allow us to use hydro rather than coal fired power. So why should not the state say that we will use them?

        • Herodotus 5.2.1.1

          Becasue at the time one cost $ and the other $5. For many as you and others have commented do not have the disposable income to replace these bulbs.
          This is one of the signs of pioverty- that to keep within a budget some decisions are not fo rthe long term best interests. Same as buying a Kg of weetbixs may be better use on $ but then bulk buying is not within everyones budget.
          then we have the costs of disposal. technically broken and dead mercury bulbs are to be disposed sepreately and within land fills contaminated material is to be isolated and contained. Over million people (guess 15+ million bulbs in Jafaland alone). Do you really think that the majority will be disposed off correctly. If not then we have major mercury contamination on land fills-that are used in later dates as recrecation areas. Just look at the cost to clean up Victoria Park. So what appears as a solution is not always the case. refer Bio fuels and the unintended consequence on food prices. But Micky keep on smiling and fighting the fight 😉

          • Lanthanide 5.2.1.1.1

            The amount of mercury in these bulbs has actually been extremely exaggerated. Yes, they’re supposed to be disposed of properly, but they’re honestly the least of our worries for what goes into land fills.

          • mickysavage 5.2.1.1.2

            Agreed Herototus.

            That is why for the benefit of the planet we need to improve the plight of the poor. Improves society AND saves the environment. What more reason do you need?

            • Colonial Viper 5.2.1.1.2.1

              That is why for the benefit of the planet we need to improve the plight of the poor.

              But where’s the guts to do it.

              Where are the advanced industries which will be offering the $20-30/hr jobs to our kids (and I don’t mean Australia).

              Where are the measures to reintroduce penal rates for overtime and stat days, and tilt the balance of power towards capable unions and hard workers.

              Where is the new understanding of social democracy/democratic socialism coming from in NZ culture.

              Where are the measures to deflate the property asset bubble and convince businesses to shift capital and technology into their operations.

              Where are the generous carrots for beneficiaries to get qualifications, find part time jobs, or better still full time employment.

              Where are the measures to bring basic utilities required for living back under full Government control and pricing regulation. Power, water, basic internet, basic banking, basic phones/txt.

              Where’s the willingness to increase the tax base to cover assets using a CGT and an Estate Tax, and to use that money to build a common wealth accessible to all NZ’ers.

              Where are the courageous measures to reform our failing, high recidivist corrections system.

              Where’s the proposals to revise our entire monetary system and get us off the interest bearing, infinite growth demanding, debt based mill that modern banking institutions have placed every economy of the world.

              There’s enough work here for 40 years at the rate we’ve been going but we don’t have 40 years to get all this done, unless we are willing to sacrifice another couple of generations of NZ’ers on the scrap heap.

              • Wow CV

                Very good. Dare I say it but it sounds like a visit back to the 1970s …

                • Colonial Viper

                  Heh dude, chur. I mean, knocking the minimum wage up to $15/hr is an OK start but not really the ‘brave new world’ (ahem) we are looking for.

                  Serious question – why not develop a Social Democracy which has the likes of Sweden and Norway looking at us going – how the hell did New Zealand do that.

    • Herodotus 5.3

      You forgot that these same bulbs cost 5-10x as much. For many this is a condesending attitude that yo have expressed Especially with NZ being a low wage economy and this been such for over a generation, even the wealthy (families on $100k) are not swinning in luxury.
      Sure if we can afford to keep this fine country “clean and green” fine. But many have limits on what they earn and as a consequenceon whatthey spend spend, and paying more for power and less than a $ on bulbs makes survival almost attainable, instead of the $5 for an eco bulb.
      Being clean and green is easier for the wealthly who can afford such. For many it is cheep food that maynot be nutritinist but keeps the children quiet, happy and fed.

    • KJT 5.4

      State restricting freedom.

      Search and surveillance bill.
      Loss of the right to silence.
      Star chamber evidence rules.
      Arming police.

      OK when the right does it!

    • Drakula 5.5

      Micky I would agree with you from an environmental perspective but I would not like to see the complete end of the flouro candescent filament lights for a number of reasons;-

      The very economical philips lights that you are talking about (which I use except for reading) are really miniature neon lights that work with gas; so they tend to pulse.

      I have known people who get very bad, blinding headaches and people going into epileptic seizures with such lighting, but not with the filament lighting and the old filament lighting is much better for reading.

      Should the filament lights be banned; well what would these poor sods do?

  6. Sections of the public grow more or less apoplectic at the idea that governments might want to teach us anything. Even modest measures like trying to get people to eat less fatty food or drive less petrol-guzzling cars tends to provoke howls of protest that this is going simply too far (my emphasis)

    What sickening arrogance. I’m given to regular bouts of apoplexy about everything from being told what lightbulbs I can and cannot buy to being told I no longer have a right to silence; it matters not one whit to me whether the hectoring know-all is wearing a red ribbon or a blue one.

    If, on the other hand, a politician feels passionately that I should buy long life lightbulbs I’m more than happy to have him or her teach me why that’s a good idea. Why, if I find myself in agreement I might even agree to help him or her implement the idea in a non-dictatorial way… like the scheme I recall reading about decades ago in which a small legislature bought up enough energy efficient items to go round and then allowed people to get them from the local power retailer and amortise the cost, interest free, over as many power bills as they wanted.

    But teaching isn’t what de Botton’s excusing, despite his clumsy attempt at obfuscation. As the third paragraph quoted reveals, he’s justifying politicians – people who’ve shown themselves to be liars, thieves, wankers (literally and figuratively), fruadsters, identity thieves and worse – interfering in our lives to protect us from being overwhelmed by, amongst other things, the very temptations in which they indulge themselves.

    As for his argument that a truly libertarian state would be bereft of advertising, that’s an even greater nonsense, unless he thinks it would also be free of philosophers spouting their thoughts. Information is power, and sometimes information is delivered via a commercial and sometimes via a BBC talk.

    Arm the populace with as much information as is possible so as to enable educated decisions; encourage and incentivise behaviour you feel is positive; but don’t restrict liberty in the name of protecting us from our worst selves, unless you have truly achieved perfection and omniscience. Otherwise you’re simply paternalistic and narcissistic. As de Botton seems to be both, it’s easy to see why he’s happy to stand aside and allow his fellow narcissists in the legislature erode our freedoms.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      Oh shove your ‘sickening arrogance’ Rex Almost none of us have had an original thought in all our lives. Everything most of us know we learned of someone else… ergo… someone else taught it to us either via directly in a pedagogical sense, or we absorbed it indirectly from the current discourse in the public sphere.

      If you actually think about it the modern idea of ‘choice’ is mostly a complete illusion. We cannot choose our parents, our gender, our genetic or cultural heritage, the nation of our birth, most of us have little choice about around how wealthy or successful we will be. Almost nothing about our lives is anything like ‘free choice’. In a materialistic sense there are always influences and limitations to one degree or another.

      It is only in an ethical or moral sense that we have true sovereignty over our choices… but that is far from what most people have in mind when they think of the word ‘freedom’.

      • mickysavage 6.1.1

        Rex sums up the counter argument well. It does not have to be rational, just heart felt.

        People do not want to be told what to do. Even if their planet’s and their kids’ future depends on it. It does not matter how stupid we think this is, they do not like it.

        They prefer to be educated, but because of current commitments they are not able to spend any time being educated until October 2013.

        This may appear to be something out of Alice and the Wonderland but it does reflect the current perceived reality.

        • Rex Widerstrom 6.1.1.1

          They prefer to be educated, but because of current commitments they are not able to spend any time being educated until October 2013.

          Actually, if you asked them to schedule time for it they’d tell you they were busy till way past then, micky.

          That’s why I regularly seethe about our media and our politicians. Either could slip in some education amongst the stuf they pump out.

          The media, alas, are a lost cause both because of their race to the bottom and the increasing fragmentation of the media space.

          But our politicians have a unique access to a certain percentage of the evening news and the column centimetres of our newspapers and even the apps on our iPads.

          And what do they choose to do? Talk about how they’d like to bone Liz Hurley and dye their hair so everyone talks about that.

          • KJT 6.1.1.1.1

            The root of the problem is that politicians of all types act as though they have the right to tell us what to do. Politicians are our employees and should be responding to our wishes.
            Their duty is to educate and inform the public. Honestly! Not coerce.

            Agreed the so called journalists do not help now they have decided to be interpreters instead of reporters of news.

            This is supposed to be a democracy., not a three yearly revolving dictatorship.

          • mickysavage 6.1.1.1.2

            So Rex

            I think we agree that energy efficient bulbs are a good idea but there are all sorts of impediments to persuading people to use them.

            I also agree that our politicians tend to concentrate on the banal, rather than the important.

            Help, I agree completely with Rex. Does he want to become a member of the Labour Party??

            • Rex Widerstrom 6.1.1.1.2.1

              Heh, don’t feel there’s a tear in the fabric of reality micky 😉

              It was admiration for Norman Kirk… and particularly the huge impression that public reaction to his death made on me (here was a man who truly mattered to people) that drew me to politics as a youngster.

              And when Winston and I parted ways, Michael Hirschfled (another whom I hugely admired and whose loss was all but irreplaceable) asked me to join but my feeling was it was too soon… I wasn’t about to mimic Peter Dunne.

              Alas since then just about everything they’ve done, and a lot of the people they brought on board, made me think I’d escaped a fate worse than death.

              Bit like NZF really… if they ever stop admiring themselves in the mirror and look back at the principles they’re supposed to be espousing… you never know.

              And incidentally RedLogix, de Botton’s “the peasants are so fucking dumb and have such a lack of self control they need to be slapped about the head with fines and restrictions… but purely for their own good” wasnt, I think, a founding precept of the NZ Labour Party as it was the bloody peasants what did the founding!

              • Ha Rex

                Capcha: should, how much reason do you need??

                About Norman Kirk, good comment. What really fecked me off about Key and McGehan Close was that he was stealing a bit of big Norm’s legacy and pretending that he was the same. He was not. The last week’s return to McGehan Close publicity shows that Key was just out for a photo opportunity, not meaningful change …

      • I’m in agreement with what you’ve written, RL. I’ve probably been imprecise in my original comment… I don’t think it arrogant to attempt to teach us – read on and you’ll see that’s what I’m advocating – but that it’s arrogant to characterise as “teaching” the banning / fining / punishing and all the other tools of nanny statists, left and right, like to use to impose their view of what we ought to be doing.

        It’s also arrogant to characterise people as “fac[ing] temptations and compulsions which we revile, but which we lack the strength and encouragement to resist, much to our eventual self-disgust and disappointment”.

        The only people I’ve ever met who fit that descriptions are addicts of various kinds… and even they don’t respond to nanny state banning their addiction of choice. Indeed the only help for them comes from the teaching de Botton claims to see as the answer, but then goes on to advocate the heavy hand of the state grasping us tightly to save us from ourselves.

        [As an aside, so what that we can’t choose our geetic or cultural heritage etc. No one can grant us those choices so they are not freedoms which can be curtailed. Basking in the warmth of an incandescent lighbulb, however, is].

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.1

          Well if high efficiency light bulbs are such a great idea simply make it easy to choose them. It can all be done by guiding people in the ‘correct’ direction but without unduly restricting or eliminating the free choice to use bad old incandescent bulbs.

          Put a 50c tariff on all the “bad bulbs” and use it to subsidise the “good bulbs” reducing the price differential.

          Then require that all the bad bulbs have plain non-descript packaging and take up only half the shelf space on a lower shelf than the “good bulbs”.

          Make it so that supermarkets (where most people buy their bulbs) cannot sell old fashioned incandescents with power ratings over 100W (this will affect the 150W and 200W varieties).

          People can still make a separate trip to hardware and electrical stores to get the big ones though, but of course its a tad less convenient to do that.

          To complicate matters I see that Philips have a range of better “bad bulbs” which are 30% more energy efficient.

          • Rex Widerstrom 6.1.2.1.1

            I’m wracking my brains now to recall any detail about the experiment I mentioned above. I was a small place, I think an island (Rhode Isand??!) where the legislature decided that hot water cylinder blankets, energy effiicient lightbulbs and the like should be encouraged.

            So they not only used advertising to say why, but they laid on enough for everyone (I seem to recall ~3,000 households) and said “order whatever you want, pay it off on your power bill over a choice of periods, with no interest”. The uptake rate was in excess of 90%, I clearly remember that much.

            I could have it wrong but I think it cost them next to nothing overall because the state owned the power company and it had to buy in less power.

            I went running excitedely round the NZF office waving the thing because that’s exactly how I think legislatures should implement change and was told “Meh, that’s Greens stuff”. I threw it away. Damn, I wish I hadn’t 🙁

            • Draco T Bastard 6.1.2.1.1.1

              Depend upon the situation. Different policies require different methods of implementation.

              You’re example above suits the state buying the blankets initially but what about new homes? There you would need regulation saying that the blankets are compulsory and/or that hot water cylinders meet some sort of energy loss specification.

              Light bulbs are better using the pure regulatory approach. Purchasing a few million light bulbs and distributing them would actually be inefficient as it produces a large amount of unnecessary waste as the still working incandescent bulbs are thrown out.

              Then there’s the other advantage that regulation can bring in in the form of entrepreneurship. Standards can encourage research and development. The regulation on the light bulbs was efficiency standards. Incandescent weren’t specifically illegal under it but they didn’t match efficiency standards required. If there was enough demand for such light bulbs then someone may have actually gone out and developed them. This can certainly be seen in car development: European cars, developed for a strict energy efficiency regime are now the most efficient cars in the world. US developed cars that don’t need to meet those standards aren’t.

              • You’re example above suits the state buying the blankets initially but what about new homes? There you would need regulation saying that the blankets are compulsory and/or that hot water cylinders meet some sort of energy loss specification.

                Surely the same formula would apply? You’re building a new house in that area and you see all the advertising that says “Hey, energy efficient products will save you $X on your power bill! Come get some and pay them off over X years so, with the savings you’ll make, you’re getting them for free”. You respond the same way as a person with an existing house.

                And/or they allow builders to fit out their new houses, sell them as “energy efficient and cheap to run” and amortise the payback the same way.

                Incandescent weren’t specifically illegal under it but they didn’t match efficiency standards required.

                With dissembling ability like that, you have a great career in politics ahead of you: “Sorry Hone, we’re not actually throwing you out of the party, you just haven’t met the ‘kowtowing to John Key’ standards required” 😛 😉

                • Draco T Bastard

                  With dissembling ability like that,…

                  😛

                  Context is everything. If somebody developed incandescent light bulbs that met the standards then they could be used.

      • Puddleglum 6.1.3

        Exactly (RL, above).

        One of the greatest conceits (as well as one of the most liberating political ideas) is that we are our own creations. We are all creations of this world even to the point that our chance of some personal, individual autonomy (something I would encourage) is, itself, created by this world – not ‘chosen’ by us individually.

  7. OleOlebiscuitBarrell 7

    I was in the gulag.I faced meagre food rations, inadequate clothing, overcrowding, poorly insulated housing, poor hygiene, and inadequate health care and was compelled to perform harsh physical labour.

    On the plus side, I had to endure no advertisements.

    I felt so free. Good times, good times.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Government-funded security system in dairies foils robbery
    A dairy owner in St Kilda, Dunedin was delighted to hear that an attempted robbery of his establishment was foiled by a government-funded security system. Sean Lee was delighted at how well the anti-theft smoke system worked. When a knife-wielding man entered the store, the shop assistant immediately pressed a ...
    22 mins ago
  • Customs nabs more than 3 tonnes of drugs bound for New Zealand in 2019
    Customs says it stopped more than three tonnes of illegal drugs coming into New Zealand last year. This includes 1,180kg of methamphetamine, 329kg of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine precursors, which could have been converted into 246kg of methamphetamine, 739kg and 6469 pills of MDMA or Ecstasy and 60kg of cocaine. Offshore, ...
    22 mins ago
  • Provincial Growth Fund pays for temporary water supply in Northland
    Hon. Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development Up to $2 million will be allocated from the Provincial Growth Fund to set up temporary water supplies in Kaikohe and Kaitaia where drought is biting hard, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. Drought conditions in Northland have led to ...
    32 mins ago
  • Christchurch trial new defense against fleeing drivers
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Law and Order New Zealand First welcomes the deployment of an Eagle Police helicopter in Christchurch in what is a step towards fulfilling its long-standing goal to increase the use of police helicopters for the front line, particularly in addressing the scourge of fleeing drivers. Christchurch leads ...
    1 day ago
  • Week That Was: A Government of progress
    It may have been the first sitting week of 2020, but our Government is already in full-swing - managing a strong economy, investing in infrastructure, and working to break the cycle of homelessness. Read below for all that, and more... ...
    4 days ago
  • Winston Peters calls Opposition “lemon suckers” during debate on gang numbers
    In a heated debate in Parliament, National's Deputy Leader Paula Bennett claimed that “nearly 1600 patched gang members have been added” since the Coalition Government took power. To illustrate her point, she altered a chart used by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to show her government’s progress in housing to instead ...
    4 days ago
  • Speech by the Rt Hon Winston Peters at Parliament’s Opening 2020 ‘We all Need Insurance’
    Speech by the Rt Hon Winston Peters at Parliament’s Opening 2020 "We all need insurance" This year New Zealanders are going to have a clear choice to make That choice is between: Optimism versus pessimism; More progress versus back to the future; Investment versus divestment; Unity versus division. New Zealand ...
    6 days ago
  • 8 ways the Big New Zealand Upgrade will change New Zealand
    The Government has announced the biggest investment in New Zealand’s infrastructure in a generation with the New Zealand Upgrade Programme. ...
    1 week ago
  • Shane Jones slams Auckland Airport’s board over runway closures
    Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has slammed the Board of Auckland Airport following the airport's runway closing twice within two weeks due to maintenance. Around 2,000 passengers were affected by last week’s runway closures, according to 1NEWS. Another maintenance closure on January 24 saw two international flights and three domestic flights ...
    1 week ago
  • Public media business case a practical step
    Jenny Marcroft, Spokesperson for Broadcasting New Zealand First supports the commissioning of a business case to assess the viability of a new public media entity. “A strong media environment is critical for a healthy democracy. New Zealand First is a strong supporter of a diverse, independent media,” New Zealand First broadcasting spokesperson ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: Waitangi
    This week, the focus was on Waitangi - a great opportunity to reflect on who we are, and who we want to be as a nation. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • West Coast tech firms and iwi get Provincial Growth Fund cash boost
    Pounamou and technology industries in the West Coast region are set to receive more than $2 million in Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) funding. This was announced by the Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau during Waitangi Day commemorations in Hokitika. He said $800,000 would be given to Development West ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Unemployment down, wage growth up proof of strong labour market
    Clayton Mitchell MP, New Zealand First spokesperson for Labour and Industrial Relations Unemployment and wage growth numbers released by Stats NZ today demonstrate a labour market in good shape with unemployment falling to 4.0%, the underutilisation rate falling to an 11 year low, and wage growth at a 10-year high ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand First welcomes official opening of Te Rau Aroha Museum
    Hon. Ron Mark, New Zealand First Spokesperson for Defence New Zealand First Spokesperson for Defence Ron Mark, welcomes the official opening of Te Rau Aroha, a new museum at Waitangi Treaty Grounds as part of our Coalition Agreement. “It is a great honour to be part of an effective Government ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech: Opening of Waitangi Museum Te Rau Aroha
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister Good morning, Let us start with important acknowledgements. First, this special day, in remembrance of the 28th Maori Battalion, is also to honour all those men and women who have risked their lives in the service of our country. Second, special guest Robert ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters: “New Zealand will look to build on relationship with the UK”
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand will look to build on its relationship with the United Kingdom and recommit to the European Union, after the country officially left the continental union recently. The Minister said New Zealand already cooperates closely with Britain on defence and security issues and has ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Kiwis better off under Coalition Government
    New Zealanders are increasingly better off under this Government as wages rise and families have more disposable income, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. Stats NZ reported today that average household disposable incomes after housing costs rose 4.9% in 2019. This was the highest rise in four years and came as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • Another step towards restoring rights for screen production workers
    All New Zealanders need to have their voices heard at work to ensure we have an inclusive and productive economy. Today we introduce a Bill to do this for workers in the New Zealand screen industry, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. “The Screen Industry Workers Bill will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • Enhanced Taskforce Green for Southland and South Otago
    The Government has announced further help for the Southland and Otago regions to speed up recovery efforts from the floods.  “I’ve approved Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG), making $500,000 available to help with the clean-up in Fiordland, Southland, and the Clutha district in Otago,” Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said.  ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Employers and Industry take the lead to connect students to vocational education
    Following the announcement that more than 340 schools will be funded to run events promoting vocational education, the Government has announced it will fund a further 257 events to be run by employers and industry. “These industry-run events will allow more than 30,000 students to connect with more than 2,000 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Rental reforms a step closer with the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill
    Today the Government is making progress on a fairer and more secure rental market for renters and landlords with the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill in Parliament.  “This Bill includes a series of reforms to improve the wellbeing of the 609,700 households that live in rented homes, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • Biosecurity Minister announces world first eradication of pea weevil
    A Government programme to wipe out pea weevil has achieved a world first, with Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor today announcing the successful eradication of the noxious pest from Wairarapa. This means the nearly four-year ban on pea plants and pea straw was lifted today. Commercial and home gardeners can again grow ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Temporary Accommodation Service activated for Southland flooding
    Southland residents hit by flooding caused by heavy rainfall can now access help finding temporary accommodation with the Government activating the Temporary Accommodation Service, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare announced today. “The Temporary Accommodation Service (TAS) has been activated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to help ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Bridges: Over-hyped and under-delivered
    “Is that it?” That’s Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s response to Simon Bridges’ much-hyped economic speech today. “Simon Bridges just gave the most over-hyped and under-delivered speech that I can remember during my time in politics,” Grant Robertson said. “It’s not surprising. Simon Bridges literally said on the radio this morning ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Police to trial eye in the sky in Christchurch
    A trial deployment of the Police Eagle helicopter in Christchurch will test whether the aircraft would make a significant difference to crime prevention and community safety. “The Bell 429 helicopter will be based in Christchurch for five weeks, from 17 February to 20 March,” said Police Minister Stuart Nash. “The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Momentum of trade talks continues with visits to promote Pacific and Middle East links
    The Government has kept up the pace of its work to promote New Zealand’s trade interests and diversify our export markets, with visits to Fiji and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker. Building momentum to bring the PACER Plus trade and development agreement ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Coalition Govt’s investment in Customs nets record drugs haul: 3 tonnes stopped at borders in 2019
    The Coalition Government’s investment in a strong border and disrupting transnational organised crime produced record results for stopping drugs in 2019, says Minister of Customs Jenny Salesa. The illegal drugs were seized at the New Zealand border by Customs, and overseas by Customs’ international border partners before the drugs could ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Separated scenic cycleway starts
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today kicked off construction of a separated cycleway alongside Tamaki Drive. A two-way separated cycleway will be built along the northern side of Tamaki Drive, between the Quay Street Cycleway extension and Ngapipi Road. There will be a separate walking path alongside. Phil Twyford said giving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Earthquake-Prone Building loan scheme: eligibility criteria announced
    Owner-occupiers of unit and apartments living in earthquake-prone buildings will have certainty about the financial support they’ll be eligible for with the release of criteria for an upcoming assistance scheme, Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa says. The Residential Earthquake-Prone Building Financial Assistance Scheme will help unit owners facing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Travel restrictions to remain in place as coronavirus precaution
    Temporary restrictions on travel from China will remain in place as a precautionary measure to protect against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The restrictions which prevent foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through, mainland China from entering New Zealand have been extended for a further 8 days. This position ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Over $1 million to help Tairāwhiti youth into employment
    Employment Minister Willie Jackson announced today that Tairāwhiti rangatahi will benefit from an investment made by the Government’s He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR) scheme. The funding will go to the Tautua Village, Kauneke programme and the Matapuna Supported Employment Programme which will fund 120 rangatahi over two years. “Both programmes work ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • School attendance has to improve
    All parents and caregivers need to ensure that their children go to school unless they are sick, Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin said today. “The school attendance results for 2019 show, across the board, a drop in the number of students going to school regularly,” the Minister says. “Apart from ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Crown and Moriori sign a Deed of Settlement
    A Deed of Settlement agreeing redress for historical Treaty claims has been signed by the Crown and Moriori at Kōpinga Marae on Rēkohu (Chatham Islands) today, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little has announced. Moriori have a tradition of peace that extends back over 600 years. This settlement ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Waikato Expressway driving towards completion
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today with Māori King Tuheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero VII officially opened the country’s newest road, the $384 million Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway. The 15km four-lane highway with side and central safety barriers takes State Highway 1 east of Huntly town, across lowlands and streams ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • 3400 New Zealanders treated in first year of new hepatitis C treatment
    The rapid uptake of life-saving new hepatitis C medicine Maviret since it was funded by PHARMAC a year ago means the elimination of the deadly disease from this country is a realistic goal, Health Minister David Clark says. Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which attacks the liver, proving fatal ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Kaupapa Māori approach for homelessness
      Kaupapa Māori will underpin the Government’s new plan to deal with homelessness announced by the Prime Minister in Auckland this morning. “Māori are massively overrepresented among people experiencing homelessness, so, to achieve different outcomes for Māori, we have to do things very differently,” says the Minister of Māori Development ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government steps up action to prevent homelessness
    1000 new transitional housing places delivered by end of year to reduce demand for emergency motel accommodation. Introduce 25% of income payment, after 7 days, for those in emergency motel accommodation to bring in line with other forms of accommodation support. Over $70m extra to programmes that prevents those at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Important step for new financial conduct regime
    Clear requirements for ensuring customers are treated fairly by banks, insurers and other financial service providers are included in new financial conduct legislation that passed its first reading today. “The recent reviews, by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and Reserve Bank of New Zealand, into the conduct of banks and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Applications invited for $7 million Regional Culture and Heritage Fund
    Applications are now open for the fifth round of the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Grant Robertson announced today.   “I am delighted to open this year’s fund which has some $7 million available to support performing arts venues, galleries, museums and whare ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Law Commission appointment celebrates Māori and women
    The Minister of Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta today congratulated Associate Professor Amokura Kawharu on her appointment as the next President of the Law Commission.  “Amokura Kawharu will be a standout in her new role, leading in an innovative and forward looking approach to the law reform process. She will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Associate Professor Amokura Kawharu Appointed Law Commission President
    Auckland University legal academic Amokura Kawharu has been appointed as the next President of the Law Commission, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today.    Associate Professor Kawharu will take up her new appointment on 11 May 2020.   “I would like to congratulate Associate Professor Kawharu on her appointment,” Andrew ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Minister of Employment launches Youth Ready Employer Programme
    A programme for employers to help them engage effectively with younger employees was launched today by Minister of Employment, Willie Jackson. The Youth Ready Employer Programme contains a range of on-line templates that employers can easily access to help with employing and retaining young people in their businesses. The programme ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Budget 2020 date announced
    Budget 2020 will be delivered on Thursday 14 May, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “This year’s Budget will continue the Coalition Government’s focus on tackling the long-term challenges facing New Zealand while also preparing the economy for the future. “Those challenges and opportunities cannot be resolved in one budget, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s tribute to former Prime Minister Mike Moore
    I move, That this House place on record its appreciation and thanks for the devoted and distinguished service to New Zealand by the late Rt Hon Michael Kenneth Moore, member of the Order of New Zealand, a member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, an Honorary Member of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Agriculture Minister declares adverse event in Northland
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has today classified the drought conditions in Northland as an adverse event for the primary sector, unlocking $80,000 in Government support. “This is recognition that the extreme and prolonged nature of this dry spell is taking its toll on our farmers and growers and additional support ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Police disrupt methamphetamine trade
    The Minister of Police says an operation to smash a trans national drug smuggling ring today will make a significant impact on the methamphetamine trade fuelling harm in our communities. Police have announced 10 arrests and the seizure of up to five million dollars’ worth of illicit drugs after an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Crown accounts in good shape to counter global challenges
    The Government’s books are in a strong position to withstand global headwinds, with the accounts in surplus and expenses close to forecast, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown accounts for the six months to December. The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) was above ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Racing Safety Development Fund open for applications
    Race courses can improve safety with this year’s second round of funding from the Racing Safety Development Fund. Minister for Racing Winston Peters has announced the second funding round of 2019/20 is open with $347,875 available for distribution. “The racing industry is integral to the economic and social fabric of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government to fund Aids research
    The Government is committing $300,000 to fund research to update behavioural information to make sure HIV and STI prevention services are targeted appropriately in New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson made the announcement at today’s Big Gay Out in Auckland. “There is much talk about ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Work to begin on a possible new public media entity
    The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media has announced work will begin on a business case to assess the viability of forming a new public media entity.   “The Government must ensure New Zealanders have a strong independent public media service for decades to come, which means ensuring public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government support for communities impacted by flooding
      Minister of Civil Defence Hon Peeni Henare announced today that the Government will contribute $100,000 to the Southland regional Mayoral Relief Fund, to support communities impacted by the recent flooding in Southland.  Mr Henare says this week’s flooding has caused significant disruption to communities in the lower South Island.  ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New grants for seismic strengthening of heritage buildings
    Heritage buildings throughout New Zealand will benefit from the $1.1 million in Heritage EQUIP funding grants announced today. “These grants for seismic strengthening projects help private building owners get the advice they need to start building work or to get the work completed,” Grant Robertson says. “Timaru’s Grosvenor Hotel has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Next level results for game development industry
    A new survey has found New Zealand’s game development sector has grown beyond expectations and is on track to becoming a billion dollar industry in 2025, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford says. “New Zealand’s interactive media sector grew by 42 per cent in last financial year to $203.4 million, according ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • More than 70 marae online through PGF
    Te Tii, the lower marae at Waitangi, is among more than 70 marae now connected to broadband internet thanks to the Provincial Growth Fund’s marae connectivity scheme, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said today. In February 2019, the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) allocated $21 million to connect rural towns ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • PGF supports West Coast connectivity
    The West Coast has had a funding injection of over $1.2 million from the Provincial Growth Fund, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced at Waitangi Day commemorations in Hokitika today.  The PGF projects announced are:  $800,000 to Development West Coast for a Grey District Regional Digital Hub ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Agriculture Minister declares adverse event in Southland
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has declared an adverse event for the Southland and Otago regions, unlocking Government support for farmers and growers. “Widespread flooding has resulted in severe disruption, with many people evacuated from their homes and many farms being affected by flood waters. It’s putting pressure on our farmers, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago