I’ve been having fun in recent months by comparing some of the foolish decisions of politicians and bureaucrats in the United States and United Kingdom. Here’s part of what I wrote in early January.
In June of last year, I posted several examples of idiotic government policy from both the United States and United Kingdom and asked which nation had the dumbest bureaucrats and politicians.
Since then, we have found new examples of brain-dead government and jaw-dropping political correctness from England, including an effort to stop children from watching Olympic shooting events and (what must be) the most pointless sign in the history of the world.
But American politicians have been busy as well in recent months, with impressive displays of incompetence and stupidity such as preventing a girl from boarding a plane because her purse had an image of a gun and a local school calling the police because a little girl kissed a little boy in gym class.
These examples are so absurd that one hopes the reporters somehow screwed up and get their stories wrong.
But now, thanks to a story sent by a friend, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no limit to stupid and clueless behavior by government. Here are some of the mind-bogglingly unbelievable details from an English-language Greek news site.
It took 10 months, a fat bundle of paperwork, countless certificates, long hours of haggling with bureaucrats and overcoming myriad other inconceivable obstacles for one group of young entrepreneurs to open an online store. …opening an online store based in Greece is no job for the fainthearted. …Antonopoulos and his partners spent hours collecting papers from tax offices, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the municipal service where the company is based, the health inspector’s office, the fire department and banks. At the health department, they were told that all the shareholders of the company would have to provide chest X-rays, and, in the most surreal demand of all, stool samples.
As you can imagine, I think it’s ridiculous that a business has to take 10 months to get permission to operate. You also can guess that I’m shaking my head with dismay at all the regulatory hurdles. And I am utterly dumbfounded that you need to submit chest X-rays to open an online store.
But I can’t even begin to describe my reaction to the requirement for stool samples. I was tempted to write the previous sentence in ALL CAPS. I also thought about unleashing my inner teenager and writing WTF, OMG, and LMAO.
New Symbol of the Greek Government?
I confess, though, that I’m not quite sure what to write. It’s as if we’ve passed into a parallel dimension where parody and satire have become superfluous.
The only thing that rivals this is the story about the Greek government deciding that pedophiles deserve disability payments.
And to add insult to injury, the politicians from Europe and elsewhere are processing yet another bailout for this wasteful and spendthrift government.
Some people thought I was being a bit over-the-top when I did an interview and said the Greeks shouldn’t be allowed to “loot and mooch their way through life.”
But I think I understated the problem. Brainless policy choices are probably the inevitable result of having so many bureaucrats that they resort to asking for stool samples to justify their pointless and empty lives.
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