Be afraid. Be very afraid. Your government is trying to help you.
Usually, that’s a good thing, but sometimes bureaucrats will spin out of control without strong political guidance.
In our era, the experts are dominating their elected masters, intimidating them with bafflegab and statistics supporting dumb agendas.
Some of our health police are shifting away from battling diseases and injury to attempting to manipulate public behaviour in oddball, paranoid ways.
I was reminded of this after the tragic death of an Okanogan child infected with hantavirus. This nasty disease also once killed an acquaintance of mine. Still, it’s so rare you have a greater chance of being killed by lightning than hantavirus.
The unfortunate child’s death had a side effect. It unleashed the fearsome Ministry of Health, which issued a string of hilarious guidelines, including recommending that campers not sleep on the ground, or that people not enter houses inhabited by mice.
Well, I can just picture all those elderly campers sleeping in trees. Is your house mouse free? Are you sure? Better flee quick (but don’t sleep on the ground)!
Other health experts recently forced figure skaters in Newfoundland to wear helmets. Hell, we all know that figure skating can be as dangerous as Baghdad. Full hockey padding and body armour should be required.
Because every skater would have to wear the same gear, there’d be no unfair advantages — they’d all be equally graceful.
There’s also a safety helmet campaign occurring at a famous skateboarding park, although more than 30,000 skateboarding hours have been logged at this public institution without a single head injury.
The big problem with this regulation is that children who haven’t a helmet, or forget it, will use the roads instead, where it’s far more unsafe.
Safety regulations can be dangerous. Head injuries in skiing have escalated at ski hills with a mandatory helmet rule. Nobody has figured out why.
There’s speculation the near-useless helmets on hi-speed skiers cause a false sense of security, leading to more extreme skiing.
The health police are everywhere these days. After they stormed a church social and busted a pile of grannies for a pie sale (Who knows what bacteria grows in granny’s kitchen!), they moved on to eggs from free-range chickens.
Horrified at the thought of an organic free-range egg from a happy chicken foraging on a small farm, our health inspectors prefer the ‘inspected’ eggs from the factory farms — mother ships of salmonella and various other interesting bacteria.
So they attempted to bust our local organic farmers.
This led to the now-legendary Salt Spring Egg War — a showdown between the police-accompanied inspector and the enraged public at Salt Spring Island’s popular Saturday market.
Farmers and customers linked arms in front of the dangerous eggs, and prevented the blustering inspector from seizing them.
He left, muttering dire warnings about returning with more police officers. Fortunately, calmer voices prevailed and the beleaguered farmers were granted a temporary reprieve, allowing the sale of eggs marked ‘uninspected.’
An intrepid local farmer immediately devised this label: “These eggs have definitely not been inspected by any government bureaucrat.”
It became a major selling feature.
Recently, the health Gestapo have engaged in more devious tactics. Hand in hand with Agricultural Canada, a subsidiary of the factory farming industry, they’re putting the big squeeze on all traditional farming.
Armed by public panics over the BSE and avian flu, they are instigating regulations that will make it very difficult to raise livestock normally.
Playing on the avian flu panic, a plague that doesn’t yet exist, our health officials are working towards instituting regulations that will ban all poultry from sunlight and open air.
So much for free range, the local hen house, the ducks in the pond, the small farm, and the vast treasure of genetic heritage as the non-factory birds are either exterminated or die off.
They are also banning traditional slaughter — the right to butcher your own livestock for your neighbours.
Traditional slaughter has been practised since the beginning of human history. Regulations already ban this meat from going into stores or restaurants, which allows for a direct trail to the grower if there are problems.
That’s not good enough. All hand-raised livestock will soon have to be trucked to industrial slaughterhouses.
Most self-respecting organic farmers wouldn’t let their truck tires touch the property of these abattoirs — houses of cruelty with a vast potential for poisonous bacteria and contamination.
However, these notorious disease vectors are easier to ‘inspect’ compared to a multitude of small, organic farms.
The world famous Salt Spring lamb flocks are already disappearing. It will cost the island’s average small farmer more to slaughter a lamb than it would sell for.
The problem with health science is that it is scientific, reducing complex problems to single issues. It doesn’t see the world in holistic terms. It can see the bacteria but it can’t see the farm.
Every one of these regulations and rules was devised for a good reason. Whether it’s a disease or a statistic. The problem is trying to decide where to draw the line.
Seat belt laws make sense, but what about the Workman’s Compensation Board insisting (as they once did) that emergency room nurses take a first aid course in case one of them needs a Band-Aid?
Imagine a world where food-safe teachers warn against using manure on gardens (because it’s full of bacteria), and that water is not as safe to drink as soda pop.
It’s already here. Avian flu does not exist. It could. A figure skater or skateboarder could crack her head (several already have).
BSE does surface spontaneously in cattle.
We can’t blame the bureaucrats for their concerns, but we can blame them for their solutions and their potential damage to our diet and environment.
It’s a dangerous world out there, and our health regulators can make it even more dangerous when they run amok. They’ve got me so afraid that tonight, I think I’ll wear my hard hat to bed … just in case.