We don’t need a nanny state

2013-03-17 10:00

What is a caring state? In many ways, South Africa has a caring state. The extension of social grants to 16?million people shows profound care.

Good public teaching, as recognised by last week’s national teaching awards, is care. Obstructing learning to attend endless union meetings is not care.

Taking forever to replace mud schools with decent structures is not care. Replacing policing (good detective work, skilled public order policing, arrest, fair trial, conviction) with torture and intimidation is not care. Failing to deal substantively with a rape culture, despite having the money and policies in place, is not caring.

Mostly, our public hospitals are not places of care as endless tales of horror reveal. This week, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital had a blackout for hours. The Star reported this as a fairly common occurrence at a place where a lack of power is deadly. We need a caring state, not a nanny state.

So why doesn’t the public sector butt out of the private sphere and focus on the areas where real care is needed. Subscribing to porn on television is a choice for adults to make and for parents to regulate.

Drinking on Sunday is, similarly, a personal choice. We know Mzansi is a Phuza Nation, as we have chronicled, but campaigns on public health and road safety are the state’s domain and choosing when to drink is the responsibility of adults.

Outlawing drinking is a jackboot response to a social problem.

We need a caring state, not a nanny state.

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