The nanny-state provides such rich material for satire. Take these three examples, all courtesy of Blue Crab Boulevard:
In Britain, local councils clearly have their priorities straight: potholes? Nope. Dilapidated neighborhoods? Nah. Improved local services? Don’t be silly! Focusing on what the British people need most, these local pols are set to regulate the number of holes in a salt-shaker:
Research has suggested that slashing the holes from the traditional 17 to five could cut the amount people sprinkle on their food by more than half.
And so at least six councils have ordered five-hole shakers – at taxpayers’ expense – and begun giving them away to chip shops and takeaways in their areas.
Leading the way has been Gateshead Council, which spent 15 days researching the subject of salty takeaways before declaring the new five-hole cellars the solution.
Officers collected information from businesses, obtained samples of fish and chips, measured salt content and ‘carried out experiments to determine how the problem of excessive salt being dispensed could be overcome by design’.
They decided that the five-hole pots would reduce the amount of salt being used by more than 60 per cent yet give a ‘visually acceptable sprinkling’ that would satisfy the customer.
The council commissioned Drywite Ltd – a catering equipment company based in the West Midlands – to make five-hole shakers and bought 1,000 of them at a cost of £2,000, giving them away to fast-food outlets in their areas.
Whew! I was afraid they were wasting public money….
Also from the Motherland, a shipment of Chilean kiwi fruit was rejected because it didn’t meet European Union standards: they were one millimeter too small.
Tim Down, a market trader for 25 years, said he was not permitted even to give away the 5,000 Chilean fruits, each of which is about the size of a small hen’s egg and weighs about 60g.
Mr Down said his family run firm would lose several hundred pounds in sales because of the ban.
“It is bureaucratic nonsense, they are perfectly fit to eat,” Mr Down said at his stall at the Wholesale Fruit Centre in Bristol. Inspectors from the Rural Payments Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), made a random check on his stall, and found a number of his kiwis weighed 58g, four grams below the required minimum of 62g.
Mr Down said that 4g in weight was the equivalent of about one millimeter in diameter.
He said: “They (the inspectors) went through a lot of my stock using their own little scales.
Monty Python, where are you when we need you?
Finally, the topper comes from Sweden: a local school confiscated the birthday party invitations a young student was distributing because he didn’t invite two of his classmates, and now the matter has become a subject of parliamentary inquiry:
The boy’s school says he has violated the children’s rights and has complained to the Swedish Parliament.
The school, in Lund, southern Sweden, argues that if invitations are handed out on school premises then it must ensure there is no discrimination.
The boy’s father has lodged a complaint with the parliamentary ombudsman.
And if that fails, there’s always the European Court of Human Rights. You laugh — just wait.
(Hat-tip also to reader John of Shikoku)