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Where is this leading?

Filed under: General — Rob Case @ 3:16 pm Fri 16th March 2007

To get to the thinking behind the anti-smacking legislation, it’s useful to look back at the last census, in particular three questions. The questions asked if you cooked your own meals, gardened or cared for children. There may be many reasons why the state wants to know this, but what these three occupations have in common is that, done by you, they are untaxed, and probably not done in “an expert and safe” manner. Answering these questions truthfully gives a measure of the last significant freedoms we have that are not yet subject to supervision and regulation. An active progressive government, like ours and all other western administrations, is distinctly uncomfortable with such omissions of control. The state’s intrusion upon citizens isn’t driven by an Orwellian craving for power for its own sake, however, but by a sincere belief that it is acting in a reasoned and compassionate way to benefit a significant majority. The method is to deliver a steady flow of legislative changes that deprive individuals of influence in all but their chosen field of expertise. A beautiful future for humanity is one in which every decison of consequence to any person is made by experts for the benefit of all. Nothing could be more unsurprising after a century of political rivalry between capitalists and socialists than an orthodoxy that owes as much to Adam Smith as to Marx.

Returning to the contemporary issue, Sue Bradford’s aim is to promote better parenting by legislating in favour of better practice according to current expert wisdom. Better yet would be the mandatory care of all children by qualified child-rearers, but one day at a time. There are, however, other considerations that counter Bradford’s single-mided enthusiasm for legislation, as evidenced by the unusually heated public reaction. Bradford’s failure to read the pace at which a captive public will allow itself to be driven may very well make these other issues moot, but let’s regard three of them.

Firstly, most of us were smacked as children. For some unaddressed reason, we are not outraged or shamed by the memory. If anyone were to claim they were, the rest of us would immediately suspect abuse. This is a watershed distinction not lost on the public. Bradford’s labelling of smacking as criminal violence grates because our personal experience won’t admit it into the same company as assault, rape or murder. We cannot believe criminal what we cannot seriously believe to have been a crime against us.

Secondly, the state enforces its very authority on the threat of violence. None of us is under any illusion that we can ignore this bill, if it becomes law, without the resources of the state being brought to bear until we comply. Depending on the manner and extent in which we resist, the state is prepared to financially ruin us, subject us to public humiliation, deprive us of liberty and confine us with people who respect no laws or person. The state will do this even though we act according to our consciences rather than to caprice. How can it be maintained that children can be effectively persuaded to behave without the threat of physical force, but the adult remains correctable only by far harsher violence?

Finally, the progressive vision of the future, that of experts without meaningful lives, logically leads to something nobody can want – namely, that your average joe or jane isn’t entitled to an opinion of any influence. Opinion will become yet another realm for a class of experts. We got a whiff of this from Helen Clark a few days ago when she stated that she was weary of seeing New Zealand’s name in the bottom half of child abuse statistics. The context was the smacking bill and the fact that Labour MPs had no vote of conscience. A public overwhelmingly against this bill was to be ignored in favour of a PM confident of her own judgement. What need we of representative democracy then?

Oddly though, I am hopeful that this vision of everyone as expert in some small way and helpless in all others will soon run its course. Legislation that intrudes into people’s lives, depriving them of exercising judgement for themselves, can only lead to more problems than solutions finding their way back to the legislator’s desk. Increasing regulation, ageing populations,dropping birth rates and high expectations of living standards are already placing enormous pressure on labour. Getting anything done by anyone, let alone an expert, will get harder. Services will deteriorate. Regulations will be ignored, and prosecutors will be overloaded. The growing numbers of people taking up simpler lives of gardening, cooking and raising their children themselves is already evident in the explosion of life-style blocks and home-steading. Global warming and public concern for the environment is forcing, throughout the world, a re-evaluation of what makes living worthwhile. The obvious conclusion is, to me anyway, that life without the power to make one’s own life decisions is no life at all. A dysfunctional society brought about by the Bradfords of the world who would direct our lives for us may well be more effective in freeing us than the ballot box.


  1. Sue Bradford’s aim is to promote better parenting by legislating in favour of better practice according to current expert wisdom.

    Unfortunately the expert wisdom (Dundedin and CHCH logitudunal studies) dont support Aunty Sue’s position.

    The alternate outcome you miss is the move to facisim that this legislation and other peices of social engineering legislation produce.


    Jim N

    Comment by Jim Nicolle — Fri 16th March 2007 @ 3:47 pm

  2. I think the ballot box is still superior to anarchy, but like those societies of the past suffering excess, they also have suffered decline. To me it is more a choice between participation and responsibility, or isolation and desperation. Even at 80 — 90 percent opinion is not defence to subjugation, you actually have to fight, not for freedom, but for that part of freedom you are not willing to sacrifice.

    Comment by Bevan Berg — Fri 16th March 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  3. what NZ needs is a vote of no confidence in the current gorvenment and legislation in place.

    Comment by starr — Fri 16th March 2007 @ 5:26 pm

  4. Hi Rob,

    Awesome of you to post. Unfortunately, i am not going away, so let’s make friends. LOL. This is my fight as it is any single mother of boys. Yet when you take control I will gladly step back. Until then, I am just a vioce.

    Comment by julie — Fri 16th March 2007 @ 6:37 pm

  5. Star,
    A vote of no confidence… that’s an interesting thought.
    Can any one enlighten us on this process, and the probabilities?
    I have not heard the people of our nation so drawn together and sharing one voice for many years. And the buzz is not just about smacking, but ignoring the voice of our nation…..”dictatorship”. I for one have no confidence in this motley crew.

    Comment by xsryder — Fri 16th March 2007 @ 8:43 pm

  6. Rob-C,

    You be onto it

    However getting free of the tons of legislation created to bring in Femi-Fascist-Socialism will affect NZ and other parts of the world for many generations

    LABOUR has steadily shaped legislation and Social Policy to CONTROL us no matter what government is in power.

    The tenticals of Femi-Fascist-Socialism are deeply imbedded and will take REVOLUTION to rid of

    Just a thought

    Onward – Jim

    Comment by JimBWarrior - HandsOnEqualParent — Sat 17th March 2007 @ 2:22 am

  7. xsryder,

    “A vote of no confidence”

    Harking back a “couple” of years when I attended University, the Students Association were elected by the student body in what was basically a “first past the post” system.

    For each position, the candidates would stand just like our political “system”.

    But, when you got to the ballot box, there were always two additional options:

    1. No vote
    2. No confidence

    So, you could exercise your right to not vote by selecting “no vote”.

    You could also assert that you had no confidence in any of the candidates standing for the position.

    My recollection (I may be wrong here) is that, if the winning candidate did not win by a margin greater than the “no confidence” vote, the election failed and was re-held. I recall two or three instances where this occurred during my tenure as a student.

    I’m not sure how this would translate into our current political environment, but there must be some form of parallel that can be drawn – perhaps only for the “party vote” component?

    Hope this helps,

    Mark Shipman

    Comment by Mark Shipman — Mon 26th March 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  8. Nice post Rob. Sadly, I doubt your prediction that excessive State control of the population will lead us to opt out and thereby gain greater freedom, but it’s an interesting idea.

    Your comments on the State’s authority being enforced by violence are welcome, and I’m surprised this has not been more widely argued. Bradford and her lot continue to parrot the ridiculous claim that “we’re not allowed to hit other adults and children deserve the same protection”. In fact, adults are seen as capable of being responsible for their own behaviour and there is no need for them to be subject to discipline from other citizens. Instead, various State agents are given the right to discipline adults, and those agents are entitled to use severe (even lethal) force to ensure behavioural limits are maintained and State-imposed discipline applied. After Bradford’s bill becomes law, only agents of the State will be legally allowed to use force against children. This gives enormously greater power to the State over the population. Of course, there will not be enough State agents to provide required discipline to children, and we can expect increased taxes to pay for armies of new State agents as children’s behaviour becomes increasingly unruly.

    Comment by Hans Laven — Wed 28th March 2007 @ 6:12 pm

  9. I’m surprised that State violence hasn’t played a bigger part in the campaign against Bradford and Clark’s anti-smacking law. It’s as if we don’t expect the state to be capable of the same level of decency as ourselves, so we’ve stopped being shocked by it.

    Consider how the state deals with unruly people:
    1) it sets vicious dogs on them
    2) it sprays them with pepper spray
    3) it bashes them with truncheons
    4) it electrocutes them with tazers
    5) it chains them up in prison vans to be strangled by violent psychopaths
    6) it locks them up in grim, wet, draughty and overcrowded prisons where they could be: a) physically assaulted
    b) indecently assaulted
    c) sexually violated
    d) made witness to all of the above on others
    7) it reduces people to living on the street and relying on charity for being obstinate
    8) it ritualises public humiliation

    My father smacked me maybe half a dozen times in my life, but he would have been horrified by any of the state’s methods.

    Comment by Rob Case — Fri 30th March 2007 @ 12:50 pm

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