We are all Idiots who Have to be Saved from Themselves

 

“Forced by the verdict of a German court, a long-established fishmonger in Hamburg had to attach a sign above his shop’s counter recently, which informs his customers that “fish may contain fish bones”. Packs of peanuts meanwhile contain, as requested by law, the hint that they “may contain traces of nuts”. For the same reason, irons nowadays often bear the request to please not iron things while one is wearing them. Who would have thought?”

 

The above is from a recent report in the Austrian press. German best-seller author and journalist at “Der Spiegel”, Alexander Neubacher notes in his new book “Total Beschränkt” (“totally restricted”) that this “over-protective policy” actually creates the very helplessness which it ascribes to citizens. He asserts: “Prohibitions are triumphing over reason – the more restrictions, the more morons” (in the German language, the sentence lends itself to word play: “je mehr Beschränkungen, desto mehr Beschränkte”).

He points out that “the State wants to wean us from thinking with ever more regulations, and makes us into idiot citizens who have to be saved from themselves”. The paternalistic infantilization of citizens by the Nanny State is nothing new, but it has become such a scourge in Europe that it has actually spawned an entire literary genre of complaints by now, one that is apparently selling extremely well.

 

wmiccjCitizen, you clearly need help: the image Europe’s bureaucrats have of their fellow men

(Photo via taringa.net / Author unknown)

 

According to the article, Mr. Neubacher’s book should be regarded as the new “standard work” on the topic. The bureaucratic nannies in the EU have provided him with a formidable wealth of material.

Thus the reader learns e.g. that on German territory, bicyclists using an electric bicycle that “only supports pedaling” may have a blood alcohol level of up to 1.6 per mil without being in danger of losing their driver’s license, whereas drunkards using an electric bicycle that “also works while idling” may not exceed a 0.5 per mil threshold. In parts of Berlin, no second bathrooms, no open chimneys and no elevators may be added in apartment renovations; on drilling platforms and wind farms in the North Sea there not only have to be medical supplies and cookies in storage in case of emergencies, but also a “pack of cards”. Prohibitions, says Neubacher, are generally overrunning our daily lives like “knotweed on a cemetery wall”.

 

knotweedBeware the giant knotweed

(Photo via phyllophilus.blogspot.co.at)

 

Responsible Parties

Montesquieu, who died in 1755, formulated a general rule for a well-run state that has been long forgotten: “If it is not necessary to make a law, it is necessary not to make a law”.

Neubacher not only provides an extensive encyclopedia of the protective siege, he also names those responsible and their motives: politicians, he says, believe they need to be seen to “do something” – and it is easier to pass rules and regulations concerning completely unimportant details of life, than actually doing something substantive. So these regulations are in a way decoys, designed to distract from the politicians’ ineptitude.

 

portrait-of-charlesmontesquieuCharles de Montesquieu: purveyor of good advice that has been ignored

(Image © Bridgeman Art Library / Versailles)

 

With regard to this, we would however note that we are even more worried that they might actually do something “substantive”, so our concerns certainly differ from Mr. Neubacher’s in this particular respect.

Neubacher also points out that an entire industry has sprung up under the guise of supposed “consumer protection”, with numerous influential industry lobbies benefiting greatly from regulations and paternalism, which have created “profitable, crisis-resistant business segments, that make a lot of money on the back of Nanny State regulations”.

This is e.g. immediately obvious when considering the ban prohibiting the use of incandescent light bulbs in the EU: allegedly introduced to “save the planet”, the ban’s man aim has always been to “increase the profits of Osram”, which along with other lighting producers lobbied heavily for its introduction. Ever since, Europe’s citizens have been forced to sit in lighting reminiscent of a morgue. As Lord Christopher Monckton remarked to this, given that this morgue-like lighting is highly likely to discourage reading, the continued dumbing down of the population has probably been given a major shot in the arm by the light bulb ban.

Among the many examples for connoisseurs of the prohibitions and regulations created by the “preventative-bureaucratic complex” in Neubacher’s book, we also find the recent establishment of a cemetery for lesbian women in Berlin – where men, you guessed it, are prohibited from being buried. Thus the bureaucrats have ensured peace of mind for members of Berlin’s lesbian community even after they have shuffled off this mortal coil. One cannot even escape the nannies by dying anymore.

 

Germany-opens-lesbian-only-cemetery.-Photo-SMHInauguration ceremony of the new “lesbians only” cemetery in Berlin.

(Photo source:  AFP)

 

 
 

 
 

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3 Responses to “Europe’s Nanny State is Running Wild”

  • vpnbear:

    Although I usually wholeheartedly agree with any and all criticism on the EU nanny state, I feel that in this particular case they seem to simply follow the USA example. I clearly remember when I hired a car in the USA and was surprised by lettering engraved in the rearview mirror: “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. Wow. Or to see a large message “Caution! Hot!” on a pizza box. Which was cold, by the way.

    There really seems to be an endless variety of idiot warning messages around. See: http://www.rinkworks.com/said/warnings.shtml

    Obviously rulemaking bureaucrats everywhere are convinced that a significant part of the population is brain-dead.

  • Kreditanstalt:

    It goes much further than that…but it adds to “GDP”!

    What about driving schools? Seatbelt manufacturers? Fire extinguisher manufacturers? And people who install aluminum doodads inside chimneys (at hundreds of dollars a shot) to satisfy regulations…and notaries and lawyers who deal directly with pages and pages of regulations but produce NOTHING…even the lowly printers charged with printing “business licenses” under government contract.

    Makes one wonder how much “productivity” is genuine and how much is folderol and make-work…do away with the fake, cheap money and manipulated “interest rates” and eliminate most of the legalese and other regulation and 10% of those employed today may actually be found to have been swimming WITH clothes on…!

  • zerobs:

    People have been sold the idea of conveniences for so long that is only logical that they can easily be sold on the idea that they will be freed of the burden of planning for one’s self if they let the government do all the planning for them. They buy this based on the sales pitch because few people stop to ask about the track record of the planners. No different than buying a washing machine.

    So you wind up with a population consisting of an ever-growing proportion of people who become incapable of planning for themselves. Of course, this inevitably leads to a greater proportion of government workers and elected officials who are incapable of planning for themselves and are therefore incapable of planning even though their job is to do exactly that.

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