Sunday, October 12, 2008

The problem with government

As someone who has worked in government for many years (note: Rachel, Sarah's sister, is writing this. Don't go thinking that Sarah has a secret bureaucratic life.), and as most of the work I have done lately has involved procuring regulatory approvals for construction projects, I have spent far too much time trying to explain to project staff and contractors why they should comply with what often seem like silly or arbitrary measures imposed on them by regulatory or assessment bodies. Alternatively, I have spent a lot of time arguing with said regulatory or assessment bodies that the imposed measures are uncalled for or otherwise an offence to reality and common sense. What does this have to do with Food and Stuff you ask? See this link to a BBC article about a ban on Marmite in a Welsh school due to Marmite's high salt content. This is a perfect example of the difficult balance between good intentions and responsible government, and a realistic and sensible application of said good intentions and responsible government. Yes, it is great to ban processed foods; however, anyone who has ever eaten Marmite will know that a person who can consume enough it in one sitting to be negatively affected by the salt content probably has something wrong with them anyways and we should let natural selection take its course. The same goes for ketchup, which has also been banned. I am not someone who believes that government has no role in regulating such things; anyone who thinks that people always behave rationally and in thier own best interest has not looked up from their first year economics text book in a while. There are limits and trouble with implementation however, and this is a good example.


Blogger spughy said...

Oh my goodness don't even get me started on the stupidity that is food-related govenment regulations. Part of the reason I buy most of my food directly from farms is that the regulations either don't apply to farmgate sales or are happily ignored.

But banning marmite??? That's sacriledge. Anti-british, even.

2:24 PM  

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