Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Health and Safety Be Damned!

After a 200-year-old tradition of rolling a cheese down a hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire (UK) was banned for "health and safety reasons," the local citizens subjects citizenry ignored the ban and rolled the cheese anyway.

Good for them. "Health and Safety" is nothing but a disguise for a jackboot, anyway.

Here they are, having their traditional fun, just as they have had for 200 years:

Seeing such defiance of over-reaching, officious bureaucratic authority by ordinary people is encouraging.


Anonymous said...

Well...once responsibility for your medical care has been relinquished to the government, you have yourself relinquished control of your "health and safety" because they impact the cost of the care that you've passed off onto someone else.

I'd say they have a leg to stand on as long as the consequences for their actions were solely theirs to bear. That is simply not the case in the UK. These people live in a socialist country of their own making. They have chosen to pass the costs of any injuries they suffer during this frivolity off to society (and would raise holy hell should they be expected to foot the bill). With responsibility, comes control. Since society has the responsibility, society has the power to determine that the risks are not worth the benefits.

The bed is made...now they must lie in it.

"whatever power you give the State to do things FOR you carries with it the equivalent power to do things TO you.
--Albert Jay Nock

Bob said...

@Sailorcurt: I hadn't considered that aspect of it, Curt. Thanks for bringing it up.

wally said...

Ah, the old Jackboot boogieman. Of course, if the event were held here and dozens of people were injured, who would pick up the cost of the emergency vehicles and personnel?

There are certainly excesses in our health and safety regulations. But our workplaces are a lot safer than they were a hundred years ago. Wouldn't it be more useful and grownup to talk about balance and not jackboots?

Bob said...

@wally: "Our?" You don't talk like a Briddisher, Walt. And we're not talking about the workplace, but an annual event that has occurred for 200 years.

I think that bureaucrats in UK are far to quick to invoke health and safety as a way to short-circuit debate. As Curt said above, when you relinquish autonomy to a government, you shouldn't be surprised when they grab more of it than you intended.

Anonymous said...

Aaah, the "balance" boogeyman.

You know, the one where citizens (or subjects) are required to sacrifice liberty as a balance to the faux sense of security they get by passing their responsibilities off onto others.

Personally, I prefer my liberty intact. You can keep your illusory security, thank you very much.

I outgrew needing a nanny by about age 12.

wally said...

I took your assertion that "health and safety" is nothing but a disguise for a jackboot as a more general statement than you apparently intended. If the scope of your concern is solely with British cheeserollers, then maybe I have been misreading your blog all along. I thought you were using UK anecdotes to make larger points about society in general. Silly me.

wally said...

And bravo to Sailorcurt, who I assume will be returning his Social Security checks when the time comes.

Bob said...

@wally: no, Walt, you're correct. I do use UK as a cautionary example. Having said that, I'll also say that I'm on record with you as supporting the safety net and the idea of universal health coverage, but I don't agree that we have to accept the same sort of beureaucratic rudeness and arrogance that is usually on display in UK, where they'll actually laugh in your face and say 'elf and safety, mate. Deal with it.'

I've outline my own preference for a quid pro quo system of service in exchange for benefits in the past. I don't favor a quid pro nil system in which people receive benefits without having given service or sacrificed.

Do you really want all government bureaucrats and employees to treat you with the same warmth displayed by DMV workers, Walt? That's what I want to avoid here, and why I'm likening elf and safety abuses to totalitarianism.

wally said...

Well, up until your last couple of sentences I was right with you, Bob. Your remarks illustrated my notion of balance that zipped right over Sailorcurt's head. But the DMV has never jackbooted me or totalitarianed me or waterboarded me or whatever it is you conservatives dream about feverishly in the night. They're just a bunch of bored bureaucrats, same as you would find at the city treasurer's office or the police station. I've never been treated heinously at my DMV, just wearily and sometimes incompetently. Maybe they're a more vicious breed down in NC, I don't know.

Bob said...

@wally: cautionary tale, Walt. Since you're a liberal, you believe in Utopias, not dystopias, right? Forgot I had to take that into account. Or you only believe in dystopias when Bushes, Cheneys or Palins are in charge?

wally said...

There you go again, Bob. People who believe in either utopias or dystopias believe in something that doesn't exist. In between those two polar opposites lies the real world and its wondrous variety of grey shades. Join us, won't you?

Bob said...

@wally: *starts singing Kumbaya.*

Anonymous said...

Why do "progressives" have such a hard time staying on-topic?

You do understand the concept that I've been forced to "pay into" Social Security for almost 30 years right?

But for you, if I don't just write the hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes I've paid over the years off and refuse the payments once I reach retirement age, I'm a hypocrite or something.

I'll be happy to eschew any Social Security checks, as soon as all the Social Security taxes I've paid over the past 28 years or so are refunded in full.

Heck...I'd even be willing to write 28 years of Social Security taxes off as a loss if you'd just stop taking them out of my checks TODAY. I don't need the government confiscating my income on the promise that they'll take care of me when I'm old.

That's my job. Not the government's.

And that exactly makes my point. The Nanny government decides that I'm not grown up enough to be responsible for myself, so they confiscate a portion of my liberty in the form of money, and promise to take care of me later.

I don't need it and I don't want it.

But I've never been given the choice.

May our chains rest lightly...

Bob said...

@Sailorcurt: Curt, Wally is definitely a liberal, true enough, but he's a good man and will debate honorably, he's not just a lefty troll. He blogs over at Crack Skull Bob, and is worth reading regularly. He's a bit sensitive to criticism, so play nicely, OK? I'm sure he'll do likewise.

Bob said...

@Sailorcurt: and since you both live in the Norfolk area, maybe you two could get together for a beer sometime.

wally said...

Sensitive to criticism? Me? How could you say such a thing?

*tears well up*

wally said...

Sailorcurt, if you don't willingly shoulder the burden of Social Security taxes, how about fire departments or interstate highways or public education, or other parts of the social contract, in which we agree to make sacrifices in the form of taxes for the public good? Now you may disagree with how we "agree" to do that, but this is a republic we live in, and I'm sure you don't need a lecture from me on how that works. For the record, I'm pretty unhappy with the way it's working right now myself, although undoubtedly for different reasons. But that's what elections are for.

Anonymous said...

"Social Contract?" What an interesting whitewash of stateism.

The only known contract where someone else gets to decide what I agreed to by virtue of having simply been born.

Be that as it may, I'm having a hard time seeing the similarities between the original subject of this post and your examples.

I suppose we could go down the list of every federal, state and local tax, what they are used to pay for and whether I agree that they are the proper role of government or not, but I simply don't see how that is relevant to the discussion at hand.

My point was that when we relinquish responsibilities to the government, we also grant them the power to regulate our behaviors (sometimes known as our "liberty") as they relate to that responsibility.

Do you disagree with that assessment? If not, why not?

And why do you keep trying to change the subject?

wally said...

With all due respect, Sailorcurt, the original topic was Bob's, not yours. And my responses have been pretty consistently (IMHO) oriented toward striking a balance between ceding responsibilities to government and maintaining a degree of independence (liberty).

"Social contract" is a philosophical term referring to the above. And yes, you enter into it by being born into this society. You don't actually sign an agreement on paper with the fire department or the school system. But by being a citizen you agree to cede to the schools the right to decide what subjects they will teach your children, when schools will be in session, and a host of other things. If you feel the social contract is intolerable, you can emigrate, or head for Montana and start your own country, I suppose. Otherwise, as a republic, we elect people to represent us, locally and nationally, who define the working minutiae of the social contract. Since they're not wired into the polls of the moment, and since, as fellow humans, they're susceptible to deceit and weakness, there will always be a tension between what they do and what we want them to do. As citizens, we have the responsibility of making our own risk/benefit assessments, and campaigning and voting based on our conclusions.

I think the system works best when we think not in terms of jackboots vs. freedom-lovers, or pure socialists vs. pure capitalists, but in recognizing that we're trying to find a balance between competing interests. That in order to function as a society, we MUST cede some responsibility to governmental entities. How much we do, where to strike the balance, is the proper subject for our debate, but there's no place for terms like 'jackboots' in such a debate, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

To clarify, I understand completely what you were TRYING to do with your changing of the subject. And I understand completely that you're a bit disgruntled about my calling you on it.

Basically you were attempting to get me to agree that there are Federal, state and local programs that are the proper role of government in order to imply that I am a hypocrite for supporting some government programs while not supporting others.

This is a false dichotomy. It is perfectly acceptable to admit that there are legitimate roles that government can play while insisting that there are other roles the government has no business in.

In the case of the Federal US government specifically, those roles are even pretty easy to define. All you have to do is look to the supreme law of the land...the US Constitution...and every permissible power of the federal government is spelled out; as well as the stern notification that any power that isn't specifically granted to the federal government is none of its business.

Notably, neither health care nor retirement benefits are included in that list of powers.

I do agree that any society's primary concern is in balancing competing interests, however I firmly believe that the best way they can do that in most instances is to stay the hell out of the way and let the people involved work it out.

The job of government is to provide services that are impossible or highly impractical to be provided by the private sector, defend the society from external threats, and defend the rights of individual citizens from usurpation.

That's pretty much it in my mind. And, in my humble opinion, as soon as the government steps beyond those bounds and attempts to take control of areas that should rightly be the province of an individual's sovereignty, the whole "jackboot" thing is entirely appropriate.

And as far as your oh-so-mature invitation for me to leave if I don't like the way YOU think things should be run: no thanks. Versus leaving the country that I was born in, served 21 years defending, and plan to die in, I think I'd prefer to exercise the rights guaranteed by the only "social contract" I recognize as legitimate and speak out about the things I disagree with and continue to work to get the local, state and federal governments back into their proper restraints as spelled out in the state and federal constitutions.

wally said...

Sailorcurt, I think we are discussing a vital topic, and I think it's exactly what we started out discussing. Why you keep claiming I'm changing the subject is puzzling to me.

I think you've articulated your position very well, and you have every right to do it. It's your interpretations of my position that I take issue with. First, I never suggested that you leave the country if you object to the way I think things should be run. I said that people who object to the way our constitutional republic has been set up have the option of living under another concept of government. Go back and read what I wrote and see if you disagree. Contrary to what you may think, I'm not at all in favor of stifling your opinion. My notion of balance requires the presence of a conservative point of view. Not only do you have a right to speak out, but as a responsible citizen you have a duty to, as I do. But one of my points was that the primary way to effect change in our system is to elect representatives who share our beliefs. And in my opinion the best way to ensure that we get halfway competent and decent people representing us is to have a reasonable public dialog instead of both sides throwing around misleading epithets.