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Politically Incorrect Editorial, Wed, May 25
The fact is that the collectivist beast here is advancing relentlessly. Over and above the areas in which it inherited ownership of its citizens, current government has nationalised personal relationships & pre-school children; it has renationalised accident insurance, banking & air travel, & it's about to renationalise the railways. It confiscates more of the earnings of its high achievers than the previous government.
It also harangues us constantly about our lifestyles. It scolds us about eating fat, smoking cigarettes & drinking alcohol. It even admonishes us to go to bed early--the Prime Minister recently chided a fellow-politician for being out too late & getting into trouble; late-night carousing, she said, was "not a good look for MPs." Nanny State under this government is not so much a nanny as a frigid maiden aunt, intent on making sure the young folk don't get to enjoy themselves.
Now, there is a cross-party clamour, spearheaded, ironically, by the party led by the late-night carouser, to raise the legal drinking age back to 20, in the face of mass hysteria to the effect that since the age was lowered to 18 in 1999, lots of youngsters UNDER 18 have taken up drinking. (With Aunty Helen nagging & wagging her finger at them every day, who can blame them?) The Minister of Justice, who thankfully is not part of the feminist/Christian/puritan/political correctness axis that dominates Parliament, does not intend to let it come to a vote--but there's no doubt that if he did, the age would be raised. Furthermore, he may have no choice--New Zealand First are seeking to introduce a private member's bill on the matter.
It's a funny thing--countries as diverse as Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Holland, Poland & Sweden specify no legal age below which one may not drink, yet none has a youth alcoholism problem conspicuously greater than, say, the United States, where most states have the highest legal age in the world: 21. In France & Italy, where the civilised savouring of fine wines is part of their gourmet way of life, the minimum age at which one may publicly consume or purchase alcohol is 16 (in France one may do both if accompanied by a parent or guardian). I venture to suggest that New Freeland, mindful of issues of individual freedom & responsibility & parental prerogatives, would not legislate on this matter at all. In the absence of the hectoring maiden aunties, & the presence of an ethos of rational self-interest, I don't imagine the results would be too disastrous.
As should be clear from the foregoing, however, the advent of New Freeland seems light years away right now. We're going in the wrong direction.
Anyone headed in New Zealand's direction needs to know that.
And come anyway!
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