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U.K. Spiraling Into 'Nanny State' -- Is U.S. Next?

Marypoppins What in the name of Mary Poppins is going on in the U.K., which according to its own local press appears to be spiraling into an unrecognizable "nanny state?"

I don't know that I, as an American, can get completely high and mighty about this topic (considering that I recently received a can of peanuts from Williamsburg, Va. with the warning "CONTAINS PEANUTS" on the label), but things really seem to be getting particularly crazy in the U.K.

This post on the UsefulArts.us blog lists some of the bizarre measures that have been reported from the U.K. Recently, the British food chain Asda began printing the warning “contains milk” on its jugs of milk. In London, a restaurant called High Timbers now requires its diners to sign a release before "festive meals" that include plum pudding: ancient custom (and the plum pudding recipe) require the pudding to be "prepared with the odd silver coin or lucky charm thrown into the mix." As a result, to avoid chipped tooth lawsuits, "each portion arrives with both a jug of brandy sauce and a legal disclaimer."

London-based author Michael Simkins writes in The National that "what began as a noble initiative to protect the general public from unnecessary harm has now mutated into something that threatens to turn us all into hapless toddlers." He writes that, judging by the crush of health and safety legislation now being proposed, it appears that "the principal role of government is to remove all hazards from daily existence -- even if you die from boredom as a result." Fittingly, he says, even at Whitehall, the seat of government, someone has placed an official sign in front of the horses who stand guard that “these horses may kick or bite.”

Simkins writes that the "nanny state" issue has grown so big that it has become a hot topic in the coming general election. In a speech last week, Conservative party leader David Cameron stated that the government had allowed a “blanket of bureaucracy, suspicion and fear” to descend on the country. He promised that if he was elected, he’d order a review into how the nanny culture could be curbed.

Is this the direction the U.S. is headed as well, or are we already there?

Posted by Bruce Carton on January 15, 2010 at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

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