Speaking as something of a pontificator myself, whenever I hear some bunch of pontificators described as ‘well-respected” I generally expect the worse. Britain’s “well-respected” Nuffield Council of Bioethics does not disappoint:
The council, which considers ethical questions raised by advances in medical research, looked at alcohol, obesity, smoking, infectious disease and fluoridation of water. It identified alcohol consumption as a huge public health problem and said that the Government could do more. “Increasing tax on alcohol and restricting hours of sale have been shown to be effective in reducing alcohol consumption,” its report states. “Yet the Government’s alcohol strategy has focused on public information campaigns and voluntary labelling schemes, measures that have been shown not to be effective. Lord Krebs, who chaired the report committee, said yesterday: “People often reject the idea of a nanny state but the Government has a duty to look after the health of everyone and sometimes that means guiding or restricting our choices. The central concept of stewardship differed from the nanny state by being “more sensitive to the balances between public good and individual freedom,” he said. The report concludes: “The stewardship model provides justification for the UK Government to introduce measures that are more coercive than those which currently feature in the National Alcohol Strategy.
Ah, “stewardship”: that’s the weasel word now. Expect to hear it over here (used in this way; I believe that theologically inclined environmentalists are already using it in a slightly different, if no less irritating, manner) from the Huckabees and Rodhams of this world very, very