Term ‘nanny state’ used to reject potential solutions to problems

It can be seen that some relief from the pressures of both income and environment do not lead to indolence

Mr. Fletcher wields the term “nanny state” as an epithet, where he lets his ideology override facts readily available with a soupçon of research.

There are two excellent articles “out there” that just may help bring some light into the dark corner Mr. Fletcher apparently wallows in.  One is by Dr. Evelyn L. Forget, University of Manitoba, who analyzed the results of a guaranteed income experiment (dubbed “mincome”) conducted in the town of Dauphin, Man. in the 1970s.

Her conclusion found in part “… that only new mothers and teenagers worked substantially less. Mothers with newborns stopped working because they wanted to stay at home longer with their babies, and teenagers worked less because they weren’t under as much pressure to support their families, which resulted in more teenagers graduating. In addition, those who continued to work were given more opportunities to choose what type of work they did. (Dr.) Forget found that in the period that Mincome was administered, hospital visits dropped 8.5 per cent, with fewer incidents of work-related injuries, and fewer emergency room visits from accidents and injuries.”

A second study, this one about drug use and addictions, was conducted by Bruce Alexander a psychologist (retired) from Simon Fraser University, who “…ran a series of …… experiments he calls Rat Park, which led him to conclude that drugs — even such hard drugs as heroin and cocaine — do not cause addiction; the user’s environment does.”

His research revealed, among many other things that “…there are the thousands of American soldiers who became heroin addicts during the Vietnam War. In an unrivalled demonstration of the effect of setting, a 1975 survey found that 88 per cent of them simply stopped using the drug when they left the war zone.”  They left a dangerous environment for the relatively far safer one of home – and quit being dependent on the drug.

In putting these two findings together, it can be seen that some relief from the pressures of both income and environment do not lead to indolence in the vast majority of instances, but to greater productivity and decreased drain on support services, such as detox programs and hospital visits.

It would do Mr. Fletcher a world of good (not unlike the Grinch at Christmas) to see that his so-called “nanny state”, and the efforts of the B.C. government to address homelessness by providing at least part of what the above research has shown that works, is a step in the right direction.

Richard Weatherill



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