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

  • Upper Hauraki to move to Alert Level 2
    Upper Hauraki will move to Alert Level 2 from 11:59pm tomorrow, 25 September, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. After positive cases were detected in the Upper Hauraki area on Sunday, extra Alert Level restrictions were put in place to immediately prevent any wider transmission of the virus.  “We’ve ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Report into Aotearoa New Zealand’s export controls system released
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today welcomed the findings of an independent review into Aotearoa New Zealand’s export controls system, which regulates the export of goods to foreign militaries, police forces or paramilitaries. Produced by David Smol, a former Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • New District Court Judge appointed
    Attorney-General David Parker has announced the appointment of Brett Crowley of Wellington as a District Court Judge.  He is currently the Wellington Public Defender and started his career as a staff solicitor working in a range of litigation including criminal defence work. He went to the bar in 1999 specialising ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Mental health stocktake shows strong progress
    The first report of the Government’s Implementation Unit has found strong progress has been made since the Mental Health and Addictions Package was announced in 2019. “The report notes most initiatives funded in the Budget 2019 package are on track to deliver what is expected by 2023/24,” Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Working together to grow the West Coast
    A project that has been crucial in allowing businesses to continue during the tourism downturn is among a number of initiatives to receive a boost from the Government’s Jobs For Nature programme, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. Sustaining South Westland is an extension of an initiative set up last year ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Next steps to improve safety in wake of Whakaari White Island tragedy
    The Government is moving to improve safety in light of the Whakaari White Island tragedy and has released proposals to reinforce safety standards in registered adventure activities. The package of proposals includes: Strengthening requirements for how operators, landowners and the regulator manage natural hazard risks Improving how risks are monitored, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • New Zealand donates more COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX and the Pacific
    Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta and Associate Health Minister Aupito William Sio announced today that New Zealand is donating additional Pfizer vaccines to the Pacific and AstraZeneca vaccines to the COVAX Facility, to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. “New Zealand is donating 708,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Speech to the Property Council of New Zealand
    Kia ora koutou katoa   Is it a pleasure to be able to speak with you today, and to be able to answer some questions you may have. I would like to acknowledge the organisers of this event, the Property Council. The theme of this year’s conference is City Shapers. Together ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Additional MIQ for Christchurch
    An additional hotel will be added to our network of managed isolation and quarantine facilities, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “I have approved and Cabinet is in the final stages of signing off The Quality Hotel Elms in Christchurch as a new managed isolation facility,” Chris Hipkins said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • NZ COVID-19 response earns another major digital investment
    Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications Dr David Clark welcomes Amazon’s Web Services’ (AWS) decision to establish a Cloud Region on New Zealand shores, further boosting New Zealand’s growing digital sector, and providing a vote of confidence in the direction of New Zealand’s economic recovery. “Amazon is the second ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand invests in cutting edge cancer R&D
    Scaling up the manufacture of CAR T-cell cancer therapy for clinical trials Advancing New Zealand’s biomedical manufacturing capability Supporting future international scientific collaborations Transforming cancer care with targeted, affordable solutions Research, Science and Innovation Minister Hon Dr Megan Woods has announced that the fight against COVID-19 will not stop the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Expert group appointed to lead New Zealand’s future health system
    An outstanding group of people with extensive and wide-ranging governance and health experience have been appointed to lead the Māori Health Authority and Health New Zealand, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “This Government is building a truly national health system to provide consistent, high-quality health services right across the country. This ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Funding to help clean up contaminated sites
    The Government is supporting the clean-up of contaminated sites in Northland, Dunedin and Southland to reduce risk to people’s health and protect the environment. Environment Minister David Parker said the funding announced today, through the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund, will help us turn previously hazardous sites into safe, usable public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Predator Free apprenticeships open up new job opportunities
    The expansion of a predator free apprenticeship programme is an opportunity for more people to kick-start a conservation career, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “The Predator Free Apprenticeship Programme is focused on increasing the number of skilled predator control operators in New Zealand through a two-year training programme. “The Trust ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Further NCEA support confirmed for Auckland students
    The number of Learning Recognition Credits for senior secondary school students will be increased for Auckland students, Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. This recognises the extended time these students will spend in Alert Levels 3 and 4. “It means students in Auckland will have a fair opportunity to attain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Long-term pathway next step to better mental wellbeing for New Zealanders
    The Government is taking a new approach to support people who experience mental distress, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “Kia Manawanui Aotearoa – Long-term pathway to mental wellbeing (Kia Manawanui) is the first 10-year plan of its kind that targets the cause of mental distress and also sets out how ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Keeping our Police safe to keep our communities safe
    The Government is committed to keeping our frontline police officers safe, so they in turn can keep New Zealanders safe – with one of the largest investments in frontline safety announced by Police Minister Poto Williams at the Police College today.   The $45 million investment includes $15.496 million in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Clean Vehicles Bill passes first checkpoint
    The Land Transport (Clean Vehicles) Amendment Bill will help New Zealand drive down transport emissions by cleaning up the light vehicle fleet, Transport Minister Michael Wood says. The Bill passed its first reading today and will establish the legislative framework for key parts of the Government’s Clean Car Package, including ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Funding boost supports ongoing Māori COVID-19 response
    The Government is responding to the need by whānau Māori and Māori Health providers to support their ongoing work responding to COVID-19 and to continue increasing rates of Māori vaccination, Associate Minister for Health (Māori Health), Peeni Henare and Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson announced today.   This increased ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Significant increase to COVID-19 penalties
    Penalties for breaches of COVID-19 orders are set to significantly increase from early November 2021 to better reflect the seriousness of any behaviour that threatens New Zealand’s response to the virus, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Throughout this Delta outbreak we’ve seen the overwhelming majority of people doing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill returns to Parliament
    The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill has returned to Parliament for its second reading in an important step towards giving enforcement agencies greater power to protect New Zealanders from terrorist activity. “The Bill addresses longstanding gaps in our counter terrorism legislation that seek to protect New Zealanders and make us safer,” Justice ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Joint Statement: New Zealand and Australian Trade Ministers
    Hon Damien O'Connor MP, New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth, and Hon Dan Tehan MP, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, met virtually on Monday 20 September to advance trans-Tasman cooperation under the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (CER). CER is one of the most ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s Post Cabinet Press Conference/COVID-19 Update opening statement
    ***Please check against delivery***   E te tī, e te tā, nau mai rā [To all, I bid you welcome]   As you will have seen earlier, today there are 22 new community cases to report; three of which are in Whakatiwai in the Hauraki area, and the remainder in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Major milestones for Māori COVID-19 vaccine rollout as new campaign launches
    Whānau Ora and Associate Health (Māori Health) Minister Peeni Henare acknowledges two major milestones in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme for Māori. “I am very pleased to announce more than 50 percent of eligible Māori have received their first dose and 25 per cent are now fully vaccinated,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government funding to fight infectious diseases
    $36 million for research into Covid-19 and other infectious diseases The investment will improve our readiness for future pandemics Research will focus on prevention, control, and management of infectious diseases The Government’s investing in a new Infectious Diseases Research Platform to boost Aotearoa New Zealand’s Covid-19 response and preparedness for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Quarantine-free travel with Australia to remain suspended for a further 8 weeks
    Suspension to be reviewed again mid to late November Decision brought forward to enable access from Australia to first tranche of around 3000 rooms in MIQ Air New Zealand working at pace to put on more flights from Australia from October    The suspension of quarantine-free travel (QFT) with Australia has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Extra support for Ethnic Communities to share vaccination information
    Extra support is being made available to Ethnic Communities to help them share COVID-19 vaccination information within their communities, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan said. “We know we need to get every eligible person in New Zealand vaccinated. A fund being launched today will allow for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • School holidays remain unchanged for Auckland region
    School holidays in Auckland will continue to be held at the same time as the rest of the country, starting from Saturday, 2 October, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “I’ve carefully considered advice on the implications of shifting the dates and concluded that on balance, maintaining the status quo ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government continues crackdown on gangs and organised crime
    Operation Tauwhiro extended until March 2022 Since it was launched in February, Operation Tauwhiro has resulted in:   987 firearms seized $4.99 million in cash seized 865 people charged with a firearms-related offence Gangs and organised crime groups will continue to be relentlessly targeted with the extension of Police’s successful ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Speech to Body Positive 'HIV Treatments Update Seminar 2021'
    E ngā mana E ngā reo E ngā iwi Tēnā koutou katoa Ka huri ki ngā mana whenua o te rohe nei. Tēnā koutou. He mihi hoki ki a tatou kua tau mai nei I raro I te kaupapa o te rā. Nō reira tēnā koutou katoa Acknowledgements It’s a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Power bill changes bring fairness to charges
    A key recommendation of an independent panel to make electricity charges fairer across all households will be put in place, the Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods has announced. “Phasing out the regulations on ‘low-use’ electricity plans will create a fairer playing field for all New Zealanders and encourage a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • NZ economy’s strong momentum will support rebound from Delta outbreak; COVID fund replenished
    The economy showed strong momentum in the period leading up to the recent Delta COVID-19 outbreak, which bodes well for a solid economic rebound, Grant Robertson said. GDP rose 2.8 percent in the June quarter, following on from a 1.4 percent increase in the previous March quarter. This was a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Projects create benefits into the future
    Making a well-known lake swimmable and helping to halt the decline of the endangered hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins are among a suite of new projects being supported by the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme across the southern South Island, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “It’s no secret that many of our most ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Opening statement for Whāriki Indigenous Small Business Roundtable
      Kei ngā tōpito e wha o te āo e rere ana te mihi maioha ki a koutou nō tawhiti, nō tata mai e tāpiri ana ki tēnei taumata kōrero mo te ao hokohoko arā mā ngā pākihi mo ngā iwi taketake Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa – Pai Mārire.  ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New members appointed to Kāpuia
    The Government is adding four additional members to Kāpuia, the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques. “I’m looking forward to having Pamela MacNeill, Huia Bramley, Melani Anae and Katherine Dedo  join Kāpuia and contribute to this group’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Timeline confirmed for Emissions Reductions Plan
    Cabinet has agreed to begin consulting on the Emissions Reduction Plan in early October and require that the final plan be released by the end of May next year in line with the 2022 Budget, the Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw confirmed today. “Cabinet’s decision allows organisations and communities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pay parity pathway for early learning teachers confirmed
    Pay parity conditions and higher funding rates for education and care services will come into force on 1 January, 2022, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins confirmed today. The Government signalled this work in Budget 2021. “From 1 January, 2022, centres opting into the scheme will receive government funding and be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Conference 2021
    Kia Ora tatau katoa.   Ka tuku mihi ki nga nēhi, He pou Hauora o Aotearoa, E ora ai tatou.   Whakatau mai  I runga i te kaupapa o te ra Te NZNO conference.   Tena koutou tena koutou Tena tatou katoa   Good morning, and thank you inviting me ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government investment in farmer-led catchment groups sweeps past 150 mark
    171 catchment groups have now been invested in by the Government 31 catchment groups in the Lower North Island are receiving new support More than 5,000 farmers are focussed on restoring freshwater within a generation through involvement in catchment groups  Government investment in on-the-ground efforts by farmers to improve land ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Fight to protect kauri on track
    The Government is pitching in to help vital work to protect nationally significant kauri forests in Auckland, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says. “Ensuring the survival of these iconic trees for future generations means doing everything we can to prevent the potential spread of kauri dieback disease,” Kiri Allan said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago