of property owners to decide whether they will allow guests
to smoke in their restaurants and other private business
establishments. Now, before the smoke has even had a chance
to clear, they are turning their attention to
what we choose to eat. Soon there will be no activity that
“free” Kiwi adults can engage in that will not
require the prior approval of nanny state bureaucrats.
“Junk” science infects much of the information reported
about the harmful effects of many things we do. Whether
it’s global warming, silicone breast implants, second-hand
smoke, or the types and amounts of fats we ingest, the fact
remains that much of the data is inconclusive. But that
doesn’t stop those with an agenda to micromanage the daily
lives of their fellow citizens.
Should we prohibit working as a convenience store clerk at
night? Or perhaps no one should be allowed to be a
firefighter. After all, these jobs are definitely more
dangerous than bartending in a smoke-filled lounge.
So now, from the people who would have you believe that
secondhand smoke is worse than ACTUAL smoking, comes the war
on trans-fats. What will be the next project of the junk
science crowd? Banning cell phones because of the risk of
brain cancer? Banning vaccinations of children because of
the risk of autism? Banning genetically modified food? There
is always some scientific “data” to justify any such
action—not necessarily credible data, but that hasn’t
stopped anyone so far.
In a free society, people should be able to make their own choices
regarding how much risk they are willing to take when
engaging in any activity. Independent organisations should
be free to make information available to the public
regarding risks and benefits—but they must not be allowed
to make the decisions for the people.
Each individual is unique. One person may judge the
risk/benefit ratio of a particular behavior to be more
favorable than might another person. And they both may be
right—for themselves, as individuals. In a free society,
people decide what risks they are willing to take—so long
as they do not infringe on the rights of others. And in a
free society, people accept the consequences of bad choices
that they make.
“Freedom” doesn’t mean you get to vote on who gets to
be your master. Freedom means you are your own master.
Freedom means autonomy and personal responsibility.
The “free” nations of the West continue down the
slippery slope to tyranny or the “Nanny State.” Whatever name you give it, the fact
remains that people are not free when their choices are
proscribed by committees of well-intended busybodies who
are, after all, no more omniscient than the people they
chose to control.
While our leaders sound the alarm about international
terrorism that threatens “our very way of life,” a more
stealthy threat to our way of life continues to eat at our
society from within. We must tell these dangerous busybodies
to mind their own business—before it’s too late.
Jeffrey A. Singer