Monday, July 20, 2009

The nanny state

Whilst watching an episode of the new series of "Top Gear", this game of 'car sauna' popped up.

The last part of the clip is what I want to emphasize about. Nearly every part of our lives requires pampering from the government. Every summer in Hong Kong there are alerts issued by the Hong Kong Observatory warning us that the weather is really hot. I can tell it is really hot by the sweat running down my face and my need for a cold drink. I don't need the weather girl to tell me go into the shade and get out of the sun.

I think 99% of the population comes under the category of "competent enough to know what 'hot' is". I understand the alerts and warnings are mainly for the elderly and other people who are generally incapable of thermoregulation. Yet if really cannot tell that the temperature is rising, should you really be living at all? What gets me are the people who know it is hot and do nothing about it. These are the really stupid hikers who trouble the ambulance services by not bringing enough water or shade with them.

The other area which really miffs me is hygiene. Since Hong Kong has been greatly affected by SARS, avian influenza and human swine flu, there has been great emphasis on washing our hands after doing anything dirty. I know this is supposed to prevent the spread of infection amongst the community but there is a downside to all this handwashing. We won't challenge our immune system enough if you don't give it enough virus and bacteria to fight. This leads to an inability to handle minor infections plus increase rates of allergic diseases such as food allergies, asthma and eczema. It is true the more hygienic a community becomes, there is a decrease in infectious diseases but there is an increase in allergic diseases. I also believe it might lead an increase to cancers, as the immune system handles those as well but I have no evidence to support this - it is my own personal opinion.

What I want to state is that we don't need a Big Brother to make decisions for us - we just need to get the information ourselves and make the choices ourselves.

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