Readers of the NBR may have seen my column last week, “The great Brexit delusion”. For reasons that may not appear obvious, I comment in the column on proposals from the British government to curb the number of calories in restaurant meals and takeaway food. Apparently, Britain’s bureaucrats seized on the idea of regulating ready-to-go meals as a weapon in the battle against obesity.
The proposals provoked such a backlash they have had to be scrapped. But it got me thinking. What could our own government helpfully police to improve the quality of our lives?
Here is my attempt at a top 10.
- Banning parents from encouraging their children to support the Auckland Blues. It only ends in anguish. Well-being would be vastly improved by ensuring everyone supported teams that do not perennially dash their fans’ hopes.
- Ditto for the Warriors.
- Watching reality TV. It invariably leads to self-loathing. And we now know it can cause serious mental health issues for the participants.
- The sale of white chocolate (and other forms of confectionary, like Licorice Allsorts, that are irresistible even to otherwise strong-willed people).
- Eating cake. There are other, healthier forms of nutrition. Let us eat bread.
- Selling convertible cars. They promote resentment. And they pose an unacceptable risk of skin cancer for the (invariably bald) men who drive them.
- Mountain-climbing – among the riskiest of outdoor pursuits and surely one of the most self-indulgent. It is not just the risk of personal harm but also the cost to rescue services, ACC and, ultimately, the taxpayer. And we already regulate all other ways of getting high.
- Wearing budgie smugglers. Enough said.
- Attending the gym. We all know we should exercise at least three times a week. Yet many of us have gym memberships that sit idle all year. The Ministry of Health could easily develop a GPS-enabled app that monitors weekly gym-going. The Ministry could enforce attendance by fining us if we don’t meet our weekly targets.
- Tall, fit and especially good-looking people who pose an unfair reminder to the rest of us about our physical shortcomings.
Or perhaps there’s a better way to improve our well-being: ban bureaucrats who spend too much of their time – and our money – concocting ways to make decisions we can make for ourselves.