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August 10, 2007



A 'yes, but': Surely the NHS argument could readily be extended from seatbelts to (for example) boxing or the use of recreational drugs? Since paternalistic laws generally protect people from injuries that would likely hit the public purse it is a near-universal answer (if accepted as valid). In fact, the NHS argument does not seem to be far from the case Hattersley is making: he points out (not unfairly) that 'almost everything we do for good or ill has an effect on the rest of society'. He cites the impacts of passive smoking and environmental damage as two examples of this effect, but NHS impacts would seem to fall under the same category.

Somewhat OT, I find it mildly ironic that Hattersley dismisses Mill's philosophy as 'great for the 19th century middle classes' in preferenence for 'a more positive view of liberty [that requires] the freedoms of the few to be constrained ... to protect the freedoms of the many'. The latter formulation sounds strangely Utilitarian - and I seem to remember Bentham relying on a similar argument to come up with a number of policies (like the new poor laws) which were proverbially 'great for the 19th century middle classes.'


Exactly - the NHS is an affront to liberty.

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