Daily Mail journalist Simon Heffer considers the idea of ‘state-nannying’ outrageous, as it not only ‘endangers our liberties, [but] undermines our self-respect.’
Governments are becoming increasingly more intrusive into our personal behaviour, particularly when it comes to our health. This intrusion has manifested itself in many ways, seen particularly in the attempts to set national standards for eating, drinking, smoking, driving, exercising and even going on school trips.
These paternalistic measures and initiatives are not what governments should be elected for, Heffer argues. Their job is to keep the country running, ‘preferably as cheaply and as efficiently as possible,’ rather than impose its views on how people should be living their live.
The entire article is available here.
Regional news network HR-fernsehen (Hesse) ran their own small-scale study in a local shop that stuck shoppers with a (fictional) 2 Euro ‘tax’ on ‘unhealthy’ foods.
The journalists found that the tax provoked extremely adverse reactions from the consumers, who were explained to afterwards that the tax was fictitious. Consumers pushed back against the possibility of the government prescribing what responsible citizens should eat and deciding what is ‘healthy’ and ‘not healthy’. One pensioner even returned her goods as she claimed that on her income the tax would make shopping on a budget even harder.
The article references Dr Thomas Danne, from the Diabetes Centre of Children and Adolescents, Hannover Medical School. Danne argues that ‘paternalistic’ policies exist in many places already, such as speed limits around schools. However, speed limits are of course there to protect others from harm.
If the consumer reactions from this small candid-camera study are anything to go by, the German government – and Dr. Danne – will have a hard time selling a tax on foods they deem unhealthy.
You can read the whole article on HR-online here.