Kristen Gyles | What not to mandate in a democratic state » EntornoInteligente

Kristen Gyles | What not to mandate in a democratic state

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Entornointeligente.com / Many persons across the world suffer from the fear of democracy; the fear of allowing other people to voice opinions freely and to contribute to their country’s decision-making. What drives this is a smelly kind of arrogance that assumes that everyone else is an idiot and has no sense. In fact, it has become fashionable to think everyone else is an idiot and has no sense.

Anyway, this is fine. We each have the right to think we are the only voice of reason in a world of dimwits – so long as others get to live their dimwitted lives unmolested. If some people had their way, though, no one would ever have the right to think, say or live differently from themselves. And this sect of persons seems to be growing by the minute.

Recent developments and the corresponding public reactions have demonstrated that what in recent times was a decided caution against big government interference has now turned to cynicism towards what is considered superstitious conspiracy theories. The world is becoming more and more accepting of totalitarian leadership and many persons, even in a country like Jamaica, have started calling for the government to showcase its brawn and start shaking its fist.

In 1956, George Orwell’s book of the future, 1984 , was classified as science fiction. It was incredible for someone to have as wild an imagination as to conceive of a world in which a ‘big brother’ could be watching everyone everywhere. Today, if you manage to forget what you had planned to cook for dinner, just ask ‘Siri’. Chances are, she can remind you.

Twenty years ago, the expression ‘one world government’ would have immediately got you branded as a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Now, every year since 2013, the world sees a World Government Summit from which global targets are set.

All I’m saying by outlining the evolution of reality (as we perceive it) is that sometimes we are a little too dismissive of things we have never given considerable thought to. The real problem, though, is not so much that we never give consideration to unconventional ideas but the fervour with which we try to silence the people who do.

WHAT IS OUR OBSESSION? People today don’t seem to care a big deal whether or not governments wander across the caution lines that are there to keep them on the straight and narrow. We have bought into the idea that the rest of the dimwitted world is incapable of and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to govern themselves. They must be told what to eat and what not to eat, what plants to grow and what plants not to grow, and what day(s) of the week to close their businesses.

Of course, this kind of government parenting is necessary only for the dimwitted and never for ourselves who already know good from bad and safe from unsafe.

This is the rhetoric that has some government leaders across the globe running wild doing the unthinkable in the name of protecting their citizenry. But it is an issue that becomes deeply troubling every time a new bill is passed in Parliament on the matter of whether or not something else should be made ‘mandatory’. What is our obsession with making things mandatory?

I am intrigued and interested by the rationale that undergirds government decisions to mandate what they do mandate. Such a rationale, I would think, can be communicated to the people, whether in the form of a checklist or decision diagram or … something.

I’ve never seen or heard a clear rubric outlined as to how the government decides what to mandate from what not to, so I’ll throw my suggestion in the ring: If the decisions people make essentially affect only themselves, leave them to make their decisions. The food I eat affects me. Leave me to eat what I want. The weed I smoke drifts me into oblivion, not you. Leave me to smoke my lung-destructive herbs. And whether I vaccinate myself against polio, tetanus or COVID-19 affects me. Leave me to the mercy of COVID – especially if you can’t accept responsibility for my adverse reactions to the vaccine. Those who want protection from the virus can choose to get vaccinated. It’s for the most part a pretty individual issue.

People now argue that those who don’t choose to take care of themselves will become a drag on the state’s free healthcare, but from a principled standpoint, it is unreasonable for any government to expect that their offering free services can come at the expense of people’s liberties to choose how they live. Anything free and also forced is really not free but actually very expensive since it comes at the cost of individual freedoms. Where lifestyle choices are concerned, the government should encourage and empower. Not compel and coerce.

IT’S THEIR CHOICE It is heart-warming to see that the Government has withdrawn its attempt at passing a mandatory NIDS bill. Let the benefits of NIDS be contained to those who seek those benefits. The previous bill which sought to penalise persons with either a fine or imprisonment for lack of enrolment in NIDS was a scary April Fool’s joke, and the fact that the Supreme Court had to intervene to put a stop to the hasty efforts to pass the bill was a bit concerning. Nevertheless, it is good to see that the Government at the very least did not make an attempt to fight the court ruling in any way. Now NIDS will be available but not mandatory.

I hope the Government will, in like manner, make any of the approved COVID-19 vaccines available, but not mandatory as I hear some persons suggesting, which is pretty extreme. My choosing to become vaccinated means I will accrue the benefits of the vaccination and those who do not get vaccinated will lose out. It’s their choice, isn’t it?

– Kristen Gyles is a mathematics educator. Email feedback to [email protected] and [email protected] .

LINK ORIGINAL: Jamaica Gleaner

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