Choice is an Illusion

In The Australian today, an excellent dissection of the lunatic over-reaching of the Australian public health industry:

THE cigarette companies, public health activists believe, will slowly bleed to death thanks to tobacco plain packaging. Now they are going in search of other beasts to slay. But threats may not be as fearsome as they say …

Why do the activists play this game? There is considerable public funding and academic prestige at stake. Small and often overlapping teams of researchers at the University of Sydney received well over $2 million for projects beginning between 2009 and last year looking at smoking, “What is influential public health research” and “Corporate influences on media reporting of health”.

Sydney and two other unnamed institutions were awarded just under $2m for a project not only aiming to improve “media literacy” but also “the potency of policy advocacy among health professionals”. Industry also charges an ideological element is involved.

“The Australian preventative health industry regards itself as the medical wing of the progressive left movement,” one long-serving industry figure says.

“The most high-profile members are open about regarding their goal to be advocates for social justice and policies for greater equity in incomes, housing and education — the so-called social determinants of health.

“The more radical loathe what they regard as unchecked markets and neo-liberalism. They take a hard line on trade agreements. And they white-ant the careers of anyone in health research who does not take the same hardcore line. Preventative health is a movement, almost a calling.”

The industry figure says the activists’ ideological starting position is a belief that individuals are helpless in the face of corporations and so individuals’ decision-making must be disregarded.

Read the whole thing.

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2 Responses to Choice is an Illusion

  1. Eric says:

    Here is a quote by C.S. Lewis I am sure you are familiar with it.

    “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good
    of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live
    under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.
    The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may
    at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good
    will torment us without end for they do so with the approval
    of their own conscience.”

  2. TimT says:

    Interesting. I wonder how much this attitude in the preventative health industry suits – and can be attributed to – Nicola Roxon. She has a rather ‘you are with us or against us’ approach to these matters.

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