Thursday, 1 June 2023

It's a wide world

I've written something for The Critic about how parochial you have to be to think that nanny state policies are essential. 

Policies that are assumed to be indispensable for protecting public health in some countries are regarded as almost preposterous in others. Freedoms that are so mundane as to go unnoticed in some parts of Europe would be portrayed as recklessly anarchic if they were proposed in others. Remember the outrage when it was rumoured that Liz Truss would repeal the sugar tax? People reacted as if it would turn the United Kingdom into some sort of pariah state. In fact, it would have brought us in line with Sweden, Italy, Denmark and countless other countries that function perfectly well without such paternalistic interventions. Norway had repealed its own sugar tax without any fanfare the previous year. 

Imagine if the UK repealed plain packaging for tobacco, relaxed its smoking ban, got rid of its marketing restrictions on so-called junk food and halved its taxes on alcohol. Would it become a Hogarthian nightmare, or would it simply be a bit more like Germany and Luxembourg where none of these restrictions are in force?

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