It’s time for an updated version of the U.S. vs U.K. government stupidity contest.
This ongoing series has featured amazing feats of inane government, including the world’s most pointless road markings, photo-ID requirements for drain cleaner purchases, and a government so incompetent that it couldn’t give money away.
Today’s contest, though, is going to focus on examples of wimpiness from both sides of the Atlantic.
Here’s an excerpt from a story out of the United Kingdom. Apparently, one neurotic mother thinks her son is some sort of incompetent misfit.
A mother was left horrified after her 10-year-old son returned form Tesco’s supermarket with a pumpkin carving kit which included a sharp serrated blade. Natalie Greaves from Sheffield in South Yorkshire described her reaction to Shay returning home with the one pound kit: ‘I went berserk when he came home with it. ‘I couldn’t believe that he could pick that sort of thing up as a child – there should have been an age restriction on it.’
“Horrified”? “Beserk”? You must be kidding. If there’s someone in that family who shouldn’t be allowed around sharp objects, it’s the mother.
It’s almost enough to make me think the kid would be better off in foster care, notwithstanding my libertarian instincts that even bad homes are oftentimes better than state control.
But I also wonder what this says about the entire nation. Back in 2012, I shared some laughably pathetic examples of anti-gun political correctness from the United Kingdom and wondered how such inane behavior could exist in a country that “once ruled half the world.”
Needless to say, this story doesn’t reflect well on our cousins across the ocean.
But Americans are in no position to make fun of others since there are plenty of examples of brain-dead political correctness in the United States.
After all, you don’t want to throw stones if you live in a glass house. And when it comes to absurd anti-gun hysteria, government schools make Americans look like infantile idiots.
Here are parts of a story from a local news outlet in Alabama.
A Mobile mother is not happy about a controversial Mobile County School contract her daughter signed without her consent. The contract promises that her daughter will not kill or injure herself and others. …She said E R Dickson school officials crossed the line when they had her daughter sign a Mobile County Public Safety Contract without her being present.
This sounds serious. Are we talking about a 16-yr old gang member? A 17-yr old with psychiatric issues? A 15-yr old with a history of violence.
The student, a 5-yr old girl named Elizabeth, was playing like a normal kid. Here are some of the details.
School officials told Rebecca they had to send Elizabeth home after an incident in class. “They told me she drew something that resembled a gun,” said Rebecca. “According to them she pointed a crayon at another student and said, ‘pew pew,” said Rebecca. She said her child was given a questionnaire to evaluate her for suicidal thoughts. “[They] Asked her if she was depressed now,” said Rebecca. Without her permission, Rebecca said her child was given the Mobile County Public School Safety Contract to sign stating she wouldn’t kill herself or others. “While I was in the lobby waiting they had my 5-year-old sign a contract about suicide and homicide,” said Rebecca. …Rebecca is pushing to have the incident removed from her child’s record. She said school officials have requested Elizabeth see a psychiatrist.
As I’ve argued before, in cases like this it’s the school bureaucrats who need counseling.
So which nation wins the prize for the worst example of P.C. wimpiness?
I’m ashamed to say that the United States probably deserves that dubious honor. After all, the story from the U.K. involves one weird parent while the U.S. story involves a deliberate decision by an arm of government.
Though I will point out that it’s not just one screwy parent in the United Kingdom. Wimpiness appears to be pervasive.
The mum-of-three checked online and found similar carving kits with restrictions allowing only people over-18 to buy it. A Tesco spokesperson responded to this mother’s anger… ‘We were concerned by this incident and acted immediately to ensure all pumpkin carving knives will trigger an age restriction till prompt.’
So maybe the U.K. story belongs in the U.K. vs. U.S. private sector political correctness contest.
P.S. Let’s shift to a different topic. I recently wrote that the jihad against tobacco at the U.N.’s World Health Organization was a classic (and tragic) case of resources being diverted from something that genuinely matters, such as fighting deadly infectious disease.
A column in the Wall Street Journal makes the same point, only it identifies the silly crusade against sugar as the main example of mission creep.
The WHO’s record of handling epidemics over 30 years reveals a health system that is getting worse, not better. On at least four occasions the U.N. organization has failed to deal with major outbreaks of communicable disease. …The list of internal problems that cause the WHO to fumble when faced with an epidemic is no secret. …an array of disparate programs within the WHO—such as the current crusade against processed sugar and sugar beverages—have diverted time, attention and money from higher priorities, such as tracking and responding to epidemic diseases.
And the Washington Examiner has opined on the same issue.
Years of dramatically overstaffed city agencies, over-generous retirement promises to public employee unions, and white-elephant development projects had left the city unable to police its streets, keep street lamps on, maintain parks, or provide other basic government services, no matter how much the city government raised taxes. The lesson of Detroit is one that governments everywhere can learn: In a world with finite resources, governments that try to do too much end up neglecting even the essential. Detroit’s case is a microcosm of what Americans are now experiencing nationwide in several different areas — the evident inability of public health officials to manage the Ebola scare competently is just one of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency that instructed a mildly symptomatic patient with known exposure to Ebola to board a commercial flight this week, spends millions annually on bonuses for top employees, bicycle paths, farmers markets, and other luxuries. …Even if they enjoy using the money the nation has for disease control and vaccine research to fund instead research on origami condoms and to appease politically active bicyclists, public health bureaucrats might do better in the future putting their massive budgets toward basic preparedness for precisely the kind of emergency the CDC was created to address.
The link between small government and effective government is something Calvin Coolidge understood. Needless to say, that’s not the attitude of the current occupant of the White House, which is why this bit of humor is worth sharing.
I think the unintentional video on Obama’s new Ebola Czar is even funnier, but whoever put this together gets high marks for cleverness.