We love the Nanny State!


If you want to see something depressing, have a look here. This blog shows that a lot of Australians want more government intervention in the their lives. Put simply, according to the surveys that are referenced in the blog, we love the nanny state.

One of the saddest surveys relates to special assistance for the manufacturing industry. Over 60% of Australians believe that rustbelt industries such as car manufacturing deserve a special handout. I can only assume that the people responding to the survey do not understand ‘opportunity cost’. Do people really think that a $100 million or so hand out to a failing private sector company is worth more than hospital beds, state schools, better public transport, and so on. Because that is the choice. The government doesn’t have a bottomless pit of resources to give out to self-serving industry. And giving out these handouts and puts the rest of its.

So what can we do? Perhaps revise school curricula. Perhaps every year 7 or 8 student should be taught about opportunity cost. Because I cannot believe that an educated populace would back self-serving business handouts above schools, hospitals, roads and so on.

10 Responses to "We love the Nanny State!"
  1. Well, I guess just wanting to have cake and eat it. I wonder what the poll results would show if the respondents were required to trade things off? The job of (good) government to explain the choices need to me made. Imagine that. The other fascinating thing about this poll is how close the Greens and Labor supports were aligned on almost every issue. Makes one wonder who will be the winner at the next election.

  2. Oh, Stephen, did you mean to imply the populace is not educated? What about all that good money being poured into non-government schools?
    I agree, those results suggest people are being “educated” by something other than the Socratic method.
    So, which way will the masses move when confronted by the next overwhelming, external worry? Like, a decent pandemic, a sequence of ferocious storms, a cruel drought, not to mention international conflict? Will they move as one, at the call of the shock jocks, run around like headless chooks or pull their heads into their McMansion fortresses?
    Do you trust the apparatus of government to plan sensibly for those kinds of dislocating exigencies, and to involve the public in the planning and execution?
    I do not, and think I will have one pretty good example after reading the report on ‘Resilience in the Australian food supply chain’.

  3. Trevor3130, can I suggest you have a read of “The rational optimist” by Matt Ridley. A good antidote to shock jocks and doomsayers!

  4. You are surprised?

    only 35% of Australians realise interest rates are lower, much lower, now then when the government won the election in 207.

    We appear to worry about keeping our jobs a Yanks despite the huge discrepancy in the economies and the Spanish are more optimisticthan we are.
    I am surprised you are surprised.
    Every survey I have ever seen has shown Aussies support protection.

  5. There is a primal need in many humans to make things – see hobbies, etc. Many people pursue this vocariously through purchasing things made by a process they can relate to – see the popularity of handmade things, origin labelling etc. The car makers are benefitting from the angst in the public that Australia will end up as a nation of useless people who can’t make anything – see service industries, finance etc. It might not be rational to you but try to understand the preferences that are revealed with such surveys.

  6. One argument in favour of subsidizing the car industry is military. You can’t fight a serious war without an industrial base.

    Japan uses the same reasoning for subsidizing its rice farmers. How could they feed their people if an enemy blocked imports?

  7. Continuing on from my previous point, if you wanted to reduce sudsidies to the car industry then you could pick a manufacturing sector that was more viable and less costly to subsidise and promote it as a totem of making things. At the moment car manufacturing is a high profile industry that is tide up with national pride.

  8. Stephen,

    This post and the one linked to is silly.

    So ’60% of Australians believe that rustbelt industries such as car manufacturing deserve a special handout’. So what?

    The question didn’t ask whether people support subsidies to car manufacturers at the expense of govt. funding on schools, hospitals etc. Even if the survey did ask you can’t rule out framing effects. Those are the two problems I can think but I’m sure there’re others.

    Suppose your conclusion is right, your solution to the ‘nanny state’ is to impose your world views through a revised education curriculum?

    The post on crickey is a joke trying to draw conclusions about social policy choices. While we’re at it we should add Arrow’s theorem to the new curriculum.

  9. Gee, it just confirms what everyone knows – we all want massive tax cuts (especially of any taxes I personally might pay), much more government spending (especially on any services I personally might use) and of course a balanced budget.

    Many a politician has won on that platform only to find once in office that the electorate will not accept the laws of arithmetic as a sufficient excuse for broken promises.

  10. Not as much as the French like their cows….etc

    And two wrongs do not make a right!

    15% of people do not know what a “%” is!!!

    How about we also “educate” and change the incentives of politicians that make these fairytale promises – independent policy adivsors giving good advice in an open and transparent way, longer terms in office etc etc…..we can improve the policy and democratic processes

    didn’t hear the independent RBA gov say ,,,,,the productivity commission has a job to do

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