Australia nanny state: Have we become a nation of idiots?
Interesting article by Ben Groundwater
Here’s the thing I’ve come to realise: Australia has too many idiots. We don’t have a lot of idiots; we don’t even have a middling number of idiots. But we still have enough idiots to reach a tipping point where things are being ruined for the rest of us.
This realisation came to me recently in Europe. Now, I don’t want to be one of those people who goes to Europe for the summer and comes home saying everything is better over there – but I’ve just been to Europe for the summer and everything’s better over there.
It feels freer. It feels more fun, more relaxed in places like Italy and Spain and France and the Netherlands. It feels like you’re given the right to make your own decisions there, and you’re given the trust to not stuff those decisions up.
You can ride a bike without a helmet in Europe, and you are trusted not to fall off (similarly, drivers are trusted not to run into you). You can wander freely onto public transport, and you are trusted to buy a ticket. You can drink a beer in the park, or on the pavement outside a bar, and you’re trusted not to act like a drunken fool.
You can’t do those things in Australia because we live in a nanny state with a lot of rules, and we live in a nanny state with a lot of rules because there are some people out there who really need to be nannied. We don’t all need it. But we have to put up with it because others do.
No one can stand around in a town square in Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane and sip drinks in the afternoon sun. Compare this to the scene in Seville, or Rome, or Berlin, where people of all ages gather in plazas and piazzas to drink a few beers and eat a few snacks. It’s peaceful; it’s fun. There are no idiots.
Australia, unfortunately, has idiots. It has enough people who will abuse the system, who will make drunken fools of themselves out on the street, who will get violent, who will be too noisy, who will steal things, to warrant ruining the fun for the vast majority who wouldn’t dream of doing any of that.
It’s not just the drunks, of course, who ruin the fun. There are other, lesser idiots around.
Consider those who move to trendy, lively neighbourhoods and start making complaints about the noise. It seems to happen constantly – music venues shut down; bars close early.
There are those here, too, who complain about any daring or contentious public artwork, things like the rainbow pedestrian crossing we once had on Oxford Street in Sydney. Those complaints are inevitably heard and acted upon, rendering our cities free of the weird and interesting and amazing sculptures and murals you see all over almost every Western European city.
There’s a danger in Australia now of everything becoming too bland with overregulation. In catering for the idiots, in stopping them from doing any harm or anything that could offend, we’re ending up with cookie-cutter neighbourhoods and soulless suburbs, places that lack a sense of individuality and a sense of community within.
We have so many rules here that seem to stifle creativity and spontaneity and fun. And unfortunately we can only blame that on the few. The idiots.