Role of Government

Role of Government

This issue arose from the Sugar Tax discussion but is broad enough to warrant separate thread. A sugar tax (and hate speech etc) are behaviour modification sytems. In a democracy is behaviour modification a role of government? I thought Govts role is to enable its citizens. I want my govt to help me achieve whatever I want (providing it doesn't have negatives on others) rather than confining me to doing what it wants or prefers. Has our complacency turned our country into an elected dictatorship. Perhaps TOP should have a written overarching Constitution after all.

Showing 10 reactions

  • Bruce Thomas
    commented 2016-12-02 08:29:48 +1300
    I pretty much agree with Matt . I believe government does have a role here. Social attitudes towards smoking, drink driving , non-discrimination based on sexual preference in NZ all required a push from Govt, for the longer term benefit of all. Government
  • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
    tagged this with dislike 2016-12-02 07:04:42 +1300
  • Matt Walkington
    commented 2016-12-01 20:27:26 +1300
    I think there may well be a lot of grey between measures that can only be justified as protecting yourself from your own actions and measure which are protecting everyone else from them.

    Just the freedoms to incur dept or spend money are interesting ones.

    Consider problem gambling. Even if we don’t want the government to protect problem gamblers from themselves, do we want to protect problem gamblers from exploitation? Do we want to protect the families of problem gamblers from the ill effects of the gambling? Lots of overlap in those examples in the sense of it being very hard to provide protection from harm by another while allow complete freedom to harm oneself.

    Then also there’s the complication of protecting members of society who actually are “vulnerable” or “idiots” (however you want to define it) and would actually be much better off (by whatever measure) if we as a society lent them a helping hand.
  • Tim O’Donnell
    commented 2016-12-01 20:00:33 +1300
    I think you only see the sugar tax as a way of protecting public health where I see it as a way to reduce the cost to the public health system (a cost to every tax payer) and for those that wish to indulge to help pay for the effects they have themselves caused. They aren’t looking to ban sugar, just deter you and help pay for the results. It’s also a way to deter companies from unnessasary use of sugar.
  • Tim O’Donnell
    tagged this with low priority 2016-12-01 20:00:33 +1300
  • Robert Murray
    commented 2016-12-01 15:31:16 +1300
    Do we distinguish perhaps between providing a safe environment (which I accept is a role for Government) which justifies the Crimes Act and prisons (but only for those who pose a threat to the public ) and keeping people safe (which treats people as idiots who are unable to think for themselves.) Take Crossing the road. A Govt (or Council) can provide a pedestrian crossing and road rules (this provides a safe environment): however if I wish to cross the road somewhere else should that be allowed or should the Govt erect fences to prevent it. Currently it is but I can see a future where it isn’t (Jaywalking in the US). The fact that we (the govt) bear the cost of injuries (from jaywalking or sugar consumption ) seems to be the underlying rationale – we legislate to reduce our costs. So, if some people do not wish the govt to keep them safe from themselves should they be able to exercise that freedom. If I wish to indulge in excess sugar should I have to pay extra to be allowed to do so because there may be a risk to my health. I sense echoes of the anti smoking and euthanasia campaigns here. Do we want TOP to advocate for increased personal freedom – now thats a loaded question.
  • Matt Walkington
    commented 2016-12-01 14:21:07 +1300
    You open an interesting debate here.

    With government and behaviour modification, it’s just a questions of what and how much. There are a whole bunch of measures that are taken via legislation or regulation in the name of public health & safety (which extends to the health & safety of individuals). It’s such a list, I don’t even know where to begin.

    Anyone who is a happy to say that the effects of fat or sugar consumption are a matter of public health & safety is opening the door on a fat or sugar tax.

    Conversely, anyone who argues that behaviour modification is not a government role is arguing for no legislation or regulation done in the name of public health & safety. That’s a long list of reforms, including, at the extreme, repealing the Crimes Act and closing prisons.

    Is the Crimes Act a manifestation of a dictatorship?
  • Matt Walkington
    tagged this with interesting 2016-12-01 14:21:06 +1300
  • Robert Murray
    commented 2016-12-01 13:59:14 +1300
    Sorry, I meant TOP should advocate for NZ to have a written overarching constitution as a bottom line.
  • Robert Murray
    published this page in Suggestions 2016-12-01 13:56:43 +1300