Something I noticed a day or two back:
‘Lecturing people about smoking and drinking doesn’t work’ – warns Cumbria health boss
Colin Cox, director of Cumbria County Council, said that putting pressure on people to change their lifestyles could do the reverse.
Mr Cox was updating Cumbria County Council’s health scrutiny committee meeting in Kendal.
He said: “If it was about telling people what to do, all our health problems would be sorted out by now. Everyone has known for many, many years about the dangers of smoking and what they should be eating. Telling people what to do, doesn’t work, it’s about empowering people and giving them the power they need to make the right decision.”
Health officials are working up far-reaching plans to tackle the county’s major health challenges over the next decade.
But committee member Phil Dew, from Kirkby Stephen said any push to “change behaviours” in people carried a danger of being “Orwellian”.
Cllr Dew said: “It’s a bit Clockwork Orange to be trying to manipulate people’s behaviour,”
He said some people stopped visiting GPs because they were “fed-up” of lectured about their lifestyles.
It almost sounds like common sense might be making a small comeback in Cumbria. But only almost.
I’m one of those people who do the reverse when pressure is put on me to change. I dig my heels in, and push in the opposite direction. So rather than, say, following any diet advice, I’m reverting to the kind of food my parents used to eat. Stuff like grilled lamb chops and boiled carrots and butter-laden mashed potato. And it’s surprising how much butter can be absorbed by mashed potato.
I’m also one of those people who stopped visiting GPs. I haven’t been to one for 12 years. I even wrote my last GP a letter to explain why. I still have a copy of it somewhere. She was a perfectly nice doctor, but she was being slowly converted into an agent of the state, tasked with intervening in patients’ lives even when they weren’t unwell, telling them what they should and shouldn’t do.
I never had any real need to visit a doctor anyway. The only thing I ever wanted was sleeping tablets, and since I stopped using them 12 years ago I’ve been using whisky instead. And whisky is much, much nicer than any sleeping tablet. So Big Pharma has lost a customer here, and Scottish Distilleries have gained one.
But this Cumbrian Mr Cox could still improve further. He says:
“Everyone has known for many, many years about the dangers of smoking and what they should be eating.”
That’s one of those “Everybody Knows” assertions which are almost invariably untrue. What he should have said was:
“Everyone has been told for many, many years about the dangers of smoking and what they should be eating…”
And he might have added:
“… and they still don’t believe a word of it.”
But it’s the last sentence that gives the game away:
“It’s about empowering people and giving them the power they need to make the right decision.”
!!/<<__ EMPOWERING __>>\!! is a word that should be written in bold red capital letters, and hedged around with health warnings. It’s Orwellian Newspeak. It’s a word that needs to be given a very wide berth, because it means the exact opposite to what it seems to mean. So:
“It’s about !!/<<__ EMPOWERING __>>\!! people and giving them the power they need to make the right decision.”
Because you always know that when people talk about “empowering” people, they don’t actually mean giving them the power to do something: they mean taking away the power, disempowering them. And when they’re telling them “to make the right decision”, they’re saying that they know what all the right decisions are, and the people who’ve been making those decisions don’t. They want to make other people’s decisions for them – and they usually also want to use other people’s money to do it.
Following on from yesterday, it’s the state in place of the parent, the state as Daddy. But while you could escape from Daddy when you finally left home, you can never escape the Daddy state. There’s no opt-out clause. There’s no EU Article 50.