Friday, August 10, 2007

Destroying Civil Society

Extremely dangerous gardening
Big Government destroys civil society.

Until quite recently most of us had never even thought about that. We'd sort of bought the myth that before Big Government and its all encompassing cradle to grave care, we lived in a perpetual state of nasty brutishness. Big G might be costly and inefficient, but at least it kept us safe. It was the mark of an advanced civilised society.

Now we know different. We know that far from keeping us safe and secure, Big Government corrodes and destroys the very fabric of our social cohesion (and if you haven't, do read James Bartholomew's excellent Welfare State We're In for some history).

Once you start looking at the world that way, you find dozens of everyday examples of the process in action. This morning it comes from Urchfont in Wiltshire:

"She has needed little more than a trowel and a dedicated green thumb to turn her village flowerbed into a work of art.

Unfortunately for June Turnbull, council officials say she also needs a few other accessories - namely, three warning signs, a "lookout" and a fluorescent safety jacket - before she so much as pulls another weed.

The 79-year-old, whose voluntary work on the public flowerbed has produced a much-admired blaze of colour, has been told she poses a health and safety risk. Council officials have ordered her to stay away from the flowers until she complies with their safety regulations."

Never mind that June is doing this voluntarily, using her own pension to buy plants and compost. Never mind that her neighbours all love her work, she's helped Urchfont win the award for best kept village in Wiltshire, and there's never been a health or safety issue. Never mind that we're the customers and those council bureaucrats are supposed to be our servants.

The health and safety police may not have prevented the disastrous Buncefield explosion (see here), nor the current escape of foot and mouth virus from a government facility. But, by God, they do a great job stamping out the last vestiges of Miss Marple's England.

PS Tyler recently heard from another blogger who is putting together a local history website. It will document how, over the years, the growth of government crushed the life out of one particular local community. We look forward to seeing it.

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