There was a programme on ABC Radio National this morning, about farmers in Queesland are selling raw milk (ie unpasteurised) labelled “Bath Milk”. In that state it’s legal to sell raw milk, but only for cosmetic purposes. Well, Cleopatra bathed in asses’ milk, so why not the ladies of the Sunshine State?
But of course it’s a ruse. People are apparently willing to pay a premium of 100% or more to drink unprocessed milk that might make them sick. “OK,” you may say, “it’s their risk, so why not let ’em?” In fact, that’s what one of the interviewees on the programme did say.
That’s also the view of the anti-vaxxers and the many people who have chosen to go onto the street to demonstrate in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, flouting* the rules about social distancing. They draw a parallel between what’s happening in the USA and what happens here when indigenous Australians run foul of the law. Understandably perhaps, they consider this to be an important enough issue to justify breaking the odd rule.
But it makes me stroppy. Why? Because the cost of your risky behaviour will be borne in part by the wider community, therefore the community has a right to restrict your risk-taking. Even if you have top-shelf private health insurance the cost of hospitalising you, treating you and perhaps cremating you will fall on your fellow policy-holders.
I suppose I’m a socialist at heart. I want my freedom, but I acknowledge that I cannot succeed at anything without a measure of security, rule of law, health and welfare safety nets, subsidised education (for which I have the taxpayers of Lancashire to thank) and a robust functioning economy. To enjoy all of that I must accept certain responsibilities, and they include looking after my own health, maintaining my productivity and obeying democratically enacted laws.
* I have noticed that substituting the word “flaunt” for “flout” has moved from being an occasional slip of the tongue towards becoming the norm. It’s joining the ranks of “A bacteria”, “Between you and I, me and Jim are going steady” and “You can’t underestimate the importance of climate change”. Is this happening only in Australia, or it is a verbal pandemic? If so, is anyone working on a vaccine?